December 8, 2011
Posted by Himani Sethi, HPP Senior Program Specialist
Shri Naveen Jindal (MP) addressing the Citizens' Alliance launch. Photo courtesy of the Citizens' Alliance.
DELHI, India—?Naveen Jindal, a Member of Parliament (MP), is leading efforts to form a Citizens’ Alliance for Reproductive Health and Rights, as a parliamentarians’ response to take collective action for improved reproductive health for the people of India. The Alliance launched at an event in Delhi on November 30, 2011. It aims to raise awareness and address reproductive health needs of the people, including the need for healthy mothers and children and planned families.
A unique leadership initiative, the Alliance has created a platform to bring together parliamentarians across party lines to combine their energies and strengthen efforts toward promoting reproductive health and population stabilization. This initiative focuses on creating a network of parliamentarians who, through their efforts, will spearhead awareness generation in their constituencies, thus creating a ripple effect to become a catalyst for change.
The mission of the Alliance is to promote "a goal-based, action-oriented, and inclusive approach ... to raise awareness and set examples that will enable parents, especially women, to exercise their rights and determine when to have a child.”
The call to action for parliamentarians was extremely well received. More than 15 MPs from the high focus states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Assam, Sikkim, Meghalaya, and Jharkhand came together across the political parties and showed solidarity and commitment for the Alliance. These MPs represent a young cadre of emerging leaders promoting social change in India, with maternal, infant, and child mortality chief among their concerns.
In addition to the MPs, experts, development professionals, social workers, and media also joined in the launch. A technical presentation by A. K. Shiva Kumar, Member, High-level Expert Group on Universal Health Coverage, highlighted the current status of maternal and child health and rights and the need to reposition family planning to ensure reproductive health.
The parliamentarians shared how they, as elected representatives of the people, can raise awareness on issues such as increasing the age of marriage, promoting access to and quality of reproductive health programs, educating and empowering women, and ending discrimination against the girl child in their constituencies. The MPs also emphasized the need to raise questions and debates in the Parliament to intensify population stabilization efforts and save mothers’ and children’s lives.
The Health Policy Project (HPP) in India, as a technical partner to the Citizens’ Alliance, supported the Alliance leaders to host the event and design key advocacy presentations and messages. HPP will continue to collaborate with the Citizens’ Alliance and Jansankhya Shritha Kosh—an autonomous body under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that supports efforts to achieve population stabilization at a level consistent with sustainable economic, social, and environmental protection goals—to strengthen the advocacy work with the parliamentarians.
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