In 2023, remarkable strides were made in advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) across the East, Southeast Asia, and Oceania Region (ESEAOR).
Tomoko Fukuda, IPPF ESEAOR Regional Director, captures the essence of this transformative journey: “This year marked the launch of the new IPPF Strategic Framework, propelling us into new horizons and inspiring us to reshape our approach to new heights, reaching marginalised and excluded, and for that, we needed to adapt and evolve.”
For the secretariat, this meant a rigorous process of ensuring it remained fit for purpose. Member Associations embarked on a strategy review and learning journey, igniting a surge of positive energy that translated into tangible actions, including policy wins and improved access to SRHR services. We reflect on some of the year's advances from the Cook Islands to Thailand and Japan.
Convergence For Change 2023: IPPF ESEAOR Regional Gathering and Youth Forum, Bali, Indonesia
In a significant display of unity, 95 delegates and youth leaders from 22 Member Associations across East, Southeast Asia, and Oceania gathered in Bali, Indonesia, from October 16-18 for the "Convergence for Change: Regional Meeting and Youth Forum." This event was a pivotal platform for vibrant idea exchanges, engaging presentations, and insightful panel discussions. These discussions highlighted the evolving landscape of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) advocacy and the dynamic strategies needed to address pressing challenges while capitalising on opportunities for positive change. The gathering highlighted the need for IPPF to evolve in response to a changing world, as outlined in Strategy 2028. This strategy focuses on championing SRHR for marginalised or underserved groups, emphasising people-centred care, advancing the sexuality agenda, fostering solidarity for change, and nurturing the federation. The meeting marked a commitment to a bold journey to address new challenges and opposition, aligning with the ambitious goals of Strategy 2028.
Contraception Policy Atlas Asia Pacific Launch at the 7th Asia Pacific Population Conference, Bangkok, Thailand
Marking a significant step in advancing reproductive rights in the region, the Contraception Policy Atlas for Asia and the Pacific Region 2023 was launched at the 7th Asian and Pacific Population Conference in Bangkok, Thailand. The launch, led by IPPF ESEAOR in collaboration with the European Parliamentary Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF) and the FP2030 Asia Pacific Hub, brought together diverse stakeholders. These included civil society organisations, youth leaders, and government representatives, all united in their commitment to enhancing reproductive health in the region. The Atlas, a first-of-its-kind tool, evaluates the contraception policies of 43 countries in the region, using 16 criteria across three categories. It aims to identify policy gaps and enhance family planning and equitable access to contraception, thereby guiding future policy-making and reproductive health services in the Asia-Pacific. Cambodia stands out as the best-performing country in the region, ensuring the right to bodily and reproductive autonomy through its national policy.
Read the full article HERE.
Regional Policy Dialogue Addresses Unintended Pregnancies in Southeast Asia
Adolescent pregnancy is a significant concern in Southeast Asia, profoundly impacting young girls' health and well-being while hindering socio-economic development. It leads to reduced educational opportunities, limited employment, and economic advancement, perpetuating cycles of disadvantage, inequality, poverty, and adverse health outcomes. In response, IPPF ESEAOR, in partnership with UNFPA, UNICEF, PLAN International, and Organon, convened a crucial Regional Policy Dialogue on Unintended Pregnancies in Southeast Asia in Bali, Indonesia. This event brought together over 100 key stakeholders, including youth networks, government representatives, development partners, and private institutions. Over two days, they analysed data and trends related to unintended pregnancy among adolescents in the region, explored evidence-based approaches to address this challenge, and evaluated existing policies while identifying gaps and opportunities. The dialogue emphasised collaboration, partnerships, and greater accountability among stakeholders through a youth-oriented and intergenerational lens, highlighting the need for a unified approach to tackle adolescent pregnancy.
Read the full article HERE.
Official Launch of FP2030 Asia Pacific Hub in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The launch of the FP2030 Asia and the Pacific Hub, hosted by IPPF ESEAOR, marks a significant advancement in the FP2030 Global Support Network, aiming to enhance collaboration and country-led direction within the partnership. The hub will accelerate access to modern contraception and improve reproductive healthcare for all, especially women and girls in the region. With its deep regional connections and central location, IPPF ESEAOR is ideally positioned to facilitate the hub's service to partners across the region. This strategic choice leverages IPPF ESEAOR's expertise to effectively support countries in their commitments, localisation, accountability, and expansion of the family planning movement. This hub is the fourth in the FP2030 network, joining others in Washington DC, Nairobi, Kenya, and Abuja, Nigeria, as part of FP2030's transition from a single secretariat office in the United States to a more global support structure. It represents a critical step in addressing reproductive health challenges and ensuring equitable access to all.
Read the full statement HERE.
Cook Islands Decriminalises Homosexuality in a Huge Victory for the Local LGBTQ+ Community
The Cook Islands achieved a significant milestone for LGBTQ+ rights by repealing a law that criminalised homosexuality, marking a major victory for the local community. This historic change is largely attributed to the persistent advocacy efforts led by the Cook Islands Family Welfare Association (CIFWA), a member association of IPPF. The movement for this law reform began in 2017 and faced numerous challenges over the years. Dedicated staff and volunteers at CIFWA have been instrumental in this journey, working closely with Pride Cook Islands and the Te Tiare Association (TTA), the leading LGBTQ+ advocacy organisation in the country. Their joint efforts have been crucial in raising public awareness, mobilising community support, and ultimately leading to successfully repealing the discriminatory law. This achievement not only represents a significant step forward for the LGBTQ+ community in the Cook Islands but also sets a positive example for human rights advocacy in the wider Pacific region.
Meet some of the inspiring people behind this historic movement.
Japan Approves First Abortion Pill, Marking Major Progress in Reproductive Rights Advocacy
IPPF submitted a joint petition to the Japanese government, advocating for increased funding in accordance with the commitments made at the Hiroshima G7 Summit. This petition forms part of a broader effort to ensure global commitments to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are fulfilled. IPPF's advocacy efforts in Japan were bolstered through policy dialogues with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participation in the Global Conference of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, and discussions with youth organisations, highlighting the need for comprehensive SRHR policies. The approval of medical abortion pills in Japan signifies a progressive shift in the country's approach to women's health. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida recognised the importance of women's autonomy in SRHR and supported integrating these rights into Universal Health Coverage, indicating a positive change in the country's stance on human security and health policy.
Solomon Islands Commits to Strengthening Reproductive Health Efforts
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has pledged to strengthen sexual and reproductive health (SRH) efforts following a visit from IPPF Director-General Dr. Alvaro Bermejo. Recognising the significant contributions of IPPF's Member Association, the Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association (SIPPA), he acknowledged their success in reaching 70,000 people, about 10% of the country's population, despite challenges in remote areas and cultural barriers. He emphasised the importance of engaging young people in SRHR and supporting SIPPA's initiatives to provide them with knowledge and services. This commitment underscores a strong focus on the health and well-being of future generations in the Solomon Islands. SIPPA President Charles Meke also highlighted the importance of the government's continued support to ensure healthcare access across the nine provinces of the Solomon Islands.
Read the full statement HERE.
RESPOND Project: Enhancing SRHR for communities impacted by COVID-19 across Asia Pacific
The Responding with Essential Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Provision and New Delivery Mechanisms (RESPOND) project forms part of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) Indo-Pacific Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights COVID-19 Surge Response (C-SURGE) program. The RESPOND project aims to enhance SRHR for those impacted by COVID-19 by providing high-quality SRH services and reliable information, focusing on women, girls, and marginalised groups. Implemented jointly by IPPF and MSI, this two-year project has spanned 21 countries in the Asia Pacific region, 18 of which IPPF has a presence. Given the overall success of RESPOND, a cost extension was granted for the continuation of the project over a third year in 5 key countries (Philippines, Indonesia, Lao, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea). The success of service implementation is greatly attributed to the strong collaboration with local civil society organisations, government agencies and healthcare providers.
Pacific Niu Vaka Strategy Phase II 2023-2028
The second phase of the Niu Vaka Strategy (2023-2028), generously funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, continues the impactful work of its first phase (2019-2022). Despite COVID-19 challenges, the initial phase achieved significant success, with nine IPPF Member Associations in the Pacific delivering over 1.77 million sexual and reproductive health services to more than 557,000 clients. Building on this momentum, the second phase aims to ensure quality SRHR for everyone. This ambitious agenda is shaped by the evolving challenges and opportunities in the region and involves collaboration with key partners, donors, and stakeholders. Significantly, the leadership for this phase will be from within the Pacific, exemplifying a deep understanding and commitment to the region's unique needs. Dolores Devesi, Director of MA Support & Development based in the IPPF Sub Regional Office for the Pacific in Fiji, will be at the helm, ensuring that local insights and expertise guide the strategy.
Read the full report HERE.
Advancing SRHR Access for Diverse SOGIESC Communities in the Region
IPPF ESEAOR is leading efforts to expand access to sexual and reproductive health for the diverse SOGIESC community in the region, addressing the challenges of discrimination, violence, exclusion, and criminalisation they face. The initiative includes the SOGIESC Self-Assessment Toolkit, aiding Member Associations (MAs) in providing inclusive services and refining their programs for SOGIESC inclusion. The Diverse SOGIESC Inclusion Training Manual complements this by deepening the understanding of SOGIESC diversity, laying the groundwork for effective inclusion strategies. The Diverse SOGIESC Inclusion Programming toolkit developed collaboratively, focuses on inclusive SRHR programming, aiming to transform societal norms. IPPF ESEAOR, in collaboration with IPPF South Asia Region and SGD Centre, hosted the pivotal Regional Sexual Gender Diversity Meeting in Bangkok. This key gathering united Member Associations and community representatives to expand SRH access for SOGIESC individuals, focusing on shared experiences, collaborative efforts, and strengthening advocacy and capacity-building in the Global South.
Access the toolkits HERE.
Youth-Centered Approach in SRHR: Empowering Young People Through Inclusive Strategies
Almost one billion young people live in Asia and the Pacific, accounting for more than a quarter of the population. This demographic faces challenges in realising sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) due to factors like poverty, gender, disability, and sexuality. IPPF’s Strategy 2028 is focused on empowering these youths by emphasising youth-led and youth-centred programming. The strategy advocates for young people to have control over initiatives with minimal adult intervention. In support of this vision, IPPF ESEAOR has developed a guideline to aid in implementing, enhancing, and broadening youth-centred approaches within Member Associations and Collaborative Partners in the region. This guideline aims to foster a culture that promotes youth participation at all organisational levels, marking a significant step towards inclusive and effective SRHR advocacy. IPPF ESEAOR partnered with The Pleasure Project to create a new guide that facilitates discussions about SRHR, youth, and pleasure, placing youth voices at the forefront of these conversations.
Humanitarian Responses in Vanuatu and Indonesia
Amid the pandemic and regional disasters, the Australian-supported SPRINT program empowered IPPF's Humanitarian program to deliver critical SRH services in 2023, including the following emergency responses:
Indonesia Cianjur Earthquake
A 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck West Java, Indonesia, causing landslides that buried villages near Cianjur. Over 22,000 houses were destroyed, displacing 58,000 people. The Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA) quickly responded by assessing needs, collecting public donations, and distributing 90 dignity kits as an initial response. The response concluded in July 2023, reaching 17,682 people, including marginalised groups like LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, and youth, achieving 92% of the target population.
TC Kevin/Judy, Vanuatu
Severe Tropical Cyclones Judy and Kevin, a pair of intense tropical cyclones, made landfall on the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu within 48 hours of each other in March 2023, affecting 197,388 people. With SPRINT funds secured, the Vanuatu Family Health Association (VFHA) mobilised a response team of 14 personnel. 8,696 sexual and reproductive health services were delivered, including 387 beneficiaries who accessed their choice of modern contraceptive following one-on-one, personalised, and non-directive counselling.
TC Lola, Vanuatu
Severe Tropical Cyclone Lola hit Vanuatu on October 25, 2023, affecting over 100,000 people, disrupting social services and rendering health facilities inaccessible due to infrastructure damage. The Vanuatu Family Health Association (VFHA) is currently implementing a humanitarian response, deploying medical teams and support staff to facilitate on-site delivery of the Minimum Initial Service Package for Sexual and Reproductive Health on Ambrym and Paama Islands to minimise the risks of unplanned pregnancies, gender-based violence, maternal health issues, and sexually transmitted infections.
Looking ahead to 2024
The progress made in 2023 provides a strong foundation for building a more equitable and just future. Recognising the various forms of inequality, including those related to gender, socioeconomic status, race, geography, and more, it is crucial to address the unique challenges faced by marginalised communities. Access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is not only a healthcare concern; it is fundamentally a matter of justice, equity, and human rights.
In 2024, the focus will be on directing energy into further accelerating efforts to ensure every individual can exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Key priorities include advancing access to safe abortion, enhancing fertility care, and addressing SRHR needs for older populations. Additionally, the commitment to driving transparency, accountability, and sustainability within Member Associations remains central.
For more information, contact:
Regional Communications, Voice & Media Advisor,