The Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition – a brief history
The SRJC was born in November 2015 following the exit of Ipas South Africa and the demise of the Sexual and Reproductive Rights Initiative of South Africa (SHARISA). Supported by the National Population Unit (Department of Social Development) two meetings were funded and a virtual organisation was formed.
In February 2016 we launched this sign on statement for members to join the Coalition, currently in June 2017 we have over 125 members as individuals or organisations have signed on and this forms the basis of our elist.
‘Working from an ethics of justice and an ethics of care, the SRJC is a coalition of organisations and individuals engaged in advocacy, research, service delivery, education, policy analysis and activism work in the fields of gender, sexual and reproductive justice, health, rights and care.
We underscore the commitment of government to justice principles, in particular that reproductive justice is achieved “when all people have the social, political and economic power and resources to make healthy decisions about their gender, bodies and sexualities”, as noted in the Fifteen Year Progress Review of the Implementation of the Population Policy for South Africa (1998) and the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) (p. 68)1
Building on this, we understand sexual and reproductive justice as:
Locating sexualities and reproduction intersectionally within social, economic, cultural, gendered, geographical, political, racialized, age-based, and ability-based and other power relations;
Overcoming inequalities and oppressions, including silencing, stigma, judgement, and other barriers to accessing information, resources and services;
Affirming diversity of identities;
Recognizing different vulnerabilities and abilities;
Addressing violations, particularly gender based coercion and violence that occur in a number of settings;
Advocating comprehensive care, including mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health;
Acknowledging and overcoming cross-cutting pervasive social challenges such as transport, safety, water, sanitation, violence, crime, alcohol, drugs, migration, labour exploitation; and
Affirming sex positive, sexualities positive and positive reproductive decision-making approaches.
We encourage critical and constructive debate and dialogue about issues relating to sexual and reproductive justice, health and care. We are committed to diversity across a range of groups in our governance structures. We encourage inclusivity of voice within the framework of the values of the coalition. We envisage a vibrant and passionate group of activists forwarding sexual and reproductive justice, health and care.’
We further have mhealth engagement with alerts and coordination through whatsapp groups for members and those in subcommittees. Relevant sub committees include media and communications, legal and research and clinical oversight.
The Steering Committee of the Coalition is led by Marion Stevens with Tlaleng Mofokeng as the Deputy Chair.
Other members include:
Catriona Macleod, Dudu Dlamini, Mandy Govender, Nomtika Mjwana and Vikar Singh
In early 2016 we developed and formalised our vision and mission (See about section for our vision and mission)
In September 2016 the first steering committee was held and WISH Associates was asked to perform the function of fiscal sponsor. At this meeting a theory of change was drafted. This was refined and in November 2016 we held a SRJC general meeting and the theory of change was adopted.
Our theory of change includes five focal areas:
Safe abortion, Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive health, Sex Work Decriminalisation, Queer health, and Hormonal Contraception and HIV informed by a reproductive justice perspective.
We received our first funding in September 2017 from a South African human rights and communications anonymous trust for work on governance and institutional strengthening and media work.
In September 2016 Nomtika Mjwana started working as a consultant part time for the SRJC through WISH Associates as the advocacy and communications manager. In January 2017 we received our second grant and were able to contract Marion Stevens (Programme Director), Tlaleng Mofokeng (Medical and Advocacy Director), Leigh Davids (Cross Movement organiser) and Thami Dolopi (Finance and Administration manager) part time. In 2017 we received confirmation from two other grants –RSFU and Amplify Change. In April 2017 we held our second steering committee meeting and agreed that we should explore seeking office space and held a strategic planning session.
In our short time of being active with no institutional funding we have managed to accomplish some remarkable achievements.
- Addressing child marriage and sexual abuse in addressing the Our Perfect Wedding reality show. Removing main sponsors, cancelling show and apolology by the producer. These efforts were led by our Deputy Chair Tlaleng Mofokeng https://www.enca.com/south-africa/absa-pulls-out-our-perfect-wedding
- Following the increased activity of prolife groups on UCT Campus – three dialogues were held in partnership with the AGI and WISH and the SA Medical Students Association to address Sexual and Reproductive Justice http://samsamed.co.za/index.php/2016/05/04/sexual-reproductive-heath-workshop/,
- We launched a Petition in collaboration with Amandla Mobi https://awethu.amandla.mobi/petitions/reproductive-justice-now
Following another death of a young woman from unsafe abortion. Currently http://code4sa.org/ is researching in-depth stories for a media launch of this petition and delivery to the National Department of Health
- The SRJC broke the http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/eastern-cape/virginity-testing-gives-me-more-dignity-1995800 Virginity Testing Scandal and assisted the Ministry of Social Development in responding http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2016-01-19-open-letter-to-all-male-leadership-figures-in-business-politics-and-civil-society/#.Vp6QlMoaLqA. A large amount of impressions were on our FB page and those in the SRJC on twitter. There is currently a moratorium on the bursaries now and a legal investigation
- We partnered with coalition members and celebrated International Abortion Provider Appreciation Day on 10 March and visited over 30 providers and gifted them with chocolates and flowers. We also received a large number of social media impressions on FB and twitter for these activities. http://www.mariestopes.org.za/tag/abortion-services/