ICRW Official Update

The International Center for Research on Women provided the following updates on progress in achieving its FP2020 commitments:

Identifying and advocating for evidence-based, practical ways to change policies and programs

ICRW’s Asia Regional office has engaged closely with the Government of India, bringing a variety of evidence to inform national reproductive health and family planning policies there.  For example, ICRW worked closely with the government to inform its National Adolescent Health Strategy, which positioned family planning and sexual and reproductive health issues within the context of a broader, more comprehensive approach to adolescent health and wellbeing.

Additionally, ICRW carried out a landmark study on the quality of family planning program in the state of Bihar in 2014-15. The results have demonstrated several important gaps in the delivery of sterilization and IUD services in the public health system as well as the private sector. The findings, which have been shared with the government, are a reminder of how important it is to situate family planning programs squarely within a women’s rights and empowerment perspective. The results of the study have been presented and discussed in meetings with Bihar and also national governments and Gates Foundation partners in Bihar. We expect this new evidence will helping framing of national reproductive health/family planning policy. Other reports and articles from our India-focused work include:

Leverage new evidence to inform the framing of national reproductive health/family planning policy, development assistance programs and corporate social responsibility programs

ICRW has made a concerted effort to ensure that U.S. development assistance programs, including particularly those of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reflect comprehensive, gender-responsive, youth-friendly approaches to sexual and reproductive health. ICRW has shared with USAID a variety of reports and provided targeted strategic advice to inform policies and programs that most appropriately reflect the needs of the women, youth and men they are intended to serve.

ICRW also contributed to the development of scorecards for policymakers and donors, specifically: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and Education. Briefing card for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Finally, we are working closely with the Nike Foundation to ensure that SRHR issues remain prominent in their funding and public platforms around adolescent girls.

The International Center for Research on Women provided the following updates on progress in achieving its FP2020 commitments:

Expanding the evidence base on the importance of addressing socio-cultural barriers when striving to meet women’s demand for reproductive control and use of family planning services

ICRW’s issued an important report  at the time of the London Summit, titled, “Women’s Demand for Reproductive Control: Understanding and Addressing Gender Barriers,” which addressed the ways in which gender-related barriers affect women’s ability to demand and use family planning and reproductive health. We have disseminated this report in targeted ways over the past three years.

Additionally, ICRW’s Asia Regional Office has carried out numerous studies on gender-based violence and partner engagement over the past three years. One such study surveyed men in five states in India to show the linkages between ideas of masculinity and son-preference. The findings have generated significant interest in policy circles, and ICRW staff is proactively engaged to advocate for the greater engagement of men and addressing violence reduction as strategy to improve family planning acceptance. ICRW aims to influence India’s commitment to addressing intimate partner violence and the rights of adolescent girls in the SDGs. Other studies and resulting reports and articles include:

  • Bhatla, N., Achyut, P., Khan, P., Walia, S., & Tranquilli, A. (2015). Promoting Equality and Safety in Schools Washington, DC; Bangkok: International Center for Research on Women; Plan International.
  • Bhatla, N., Achyut, P., Ghosh, S., Gautam, A., & Verma, R. (2013). Safe Cities Free From Violence Against Women and Girls: Baseline Finding from the “Safe Cities Delhi Programme” New York and Washington, DC: UN Women; International Center for Research on Women.
  • Das, M., Ghosh, S., Verma, R., O’Connor, B., Fewer, S., Virata, M. C. et al. (2014). Gender attitudes and violence among urban adolescent boys in India. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 19, 99-112
  • Edmeades, J., Pande, R., MacQuarrie, K., Falle, T., & Malhotra, A. (2012). Two Sons And A Daughter: Sex Composition And Women’s Reproductive Behaviour In Madhya Pradesh, India. Journal of Biosocial Science.
  • International Center for Research on Women & Plan Asia Regional Office (2015). Are Schools Safe and Equal Places for Girls and Boys in Asia? Research Findings on School-Related Gender-Based Violence Delhi, India: International Center for Research on Women; Plan Asia Regional Office.
  • Mishra, A., Nanda, P., Speizer, I. S., Calhoun, L. M., Zimmerman, A., & Bhardwaj, R. (2014). Men’s attitudes on gender equality and their contraceptive use in Uttar Pradesh India. Reprod Health, 11,
  • Muralidharan, A., Fehringer, J. A., Pappa, S., Rottach, E., Das, M., & Mandal, M. (2014). Tranforming Gender Norms, Roles, and Power Dynamics for Better Health: Evidence from a Systematic Review of Gender-integrated Health Programs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries Washington, DC and Chapel Hill, NC: Futures Group; Health Policy Project; Measure Evaluation.

Expand the evidence base linking women’s social and economic empowerment to family planning and sexual and reproductive health

ICRW and Dalberg Global Development Advisors set out to create a better understanding of corporate-funded women’s economic empowerment programs – what works and what does not – and make the case for how such programs can increase benefits for both women and for companies. ICRW and Dalberg found that corporations need to do more to address barriers that hinder women’s economic advancement. The majority of corporate-funded programs aim to build women’s economic status by expanding employment opportunities, providing business training and making loans or credit more available. However, for a woman to be economically empowered, she needs more than skills and opportunities. The Business Case for Women’s Economic Empowerment: An Integrated Approach presents the study’s findings and includes an integrated framework that the private sector can adopt to increase return on investment and enhance women’s economic advancement.  The integrated approach is based on a human rights framework that focuses on the broader conditions necessary for women to prosper economically, including reproductive control, safety from violence, freedom of movement and childcare – as well as business training, financial support and employment opportunities.

Produce new evidence related to adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights ICRW conducted a literature review and donor scan to identify what the evidence shows regarding adolescents and family planning. Findings from this study have been provided in a number of ways and settings, including through

  • a paper submitted to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to inform the development of its adolescent family planning strategy; a brief presented to USAID FP/RH partners;
  • a presentation to UNFPA to inform its investment case for adolescent girls;
  • a presentation to PEPFAR representatives from 10 sub-Saharan African countries to inform the integration of HIV prevention with FP/RH programs and vice versa; and more.

Additional evidence we have generated regarding adolescent SRHR and adolescent girls’ rights includes:

Strengthen the connection between adolescent girls’ education and sexual and reproductive health outcomes, including delayed marriage and childbearing

ICRW conducted a study in northern Uganda that sought to understand the connections between girls’ schooling, early pregnancy and early marriage. Findings from this study, titled, Girls Are Like Leaves on the Wind: How Gender Expectations Impact Girls’ Education – A Closer Look from West Nile, Ugandawere presented at various forums in Uganda by ICRW and our local partner, the Federation of Women Educationalists, as well as at an event in Washington, DC. The report resulted in significant media attention in Kenya and the U.S., and was picked up by the New York Times, among others.

ICRW’s report titled More Power to Her: How Empowering Girls Can End Child Marriage provided an in-depth look at four case studies (programs run by CARE in Ethiopia, BRAC in Bangladesh, Save the Children in Egypt and Pathfinder International in India) and found that girl-focused programs expand girls’ ability to make strategic life choices by providing them with access to critical resources. The information, skills and social support that they gain help to instill a transformation within girls: increasing their self-awareness, their self-efficacy and their aspirations. They also introduce girls to alternatives to marriage and early pregnancy, such as school and livelihood opportunities, and enhance their ability to influence key ‘gatekeepers’ in their lives, such as parents, husbands or community leaders.

ICRW has used the findings from these studies to advocate for girls education, including with the U.S. government and within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Develop and validate metrics to improve its understanding of the benefits that education brings to women’s access to and correct use of family planning

With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, ICRW and the World Bank are undertaking a multi-year study to understand the economic impacts of child marriage globally. Among the key linkages around which we are estimating impacts are those between girls’ education, early marriage, and use of family planning. Early findings from the first phase of this study will be available publicly in the fall of 2015.