I am in my final year as a PhD Candidate with a research focus on access to post-abortion contraception and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information in Nepal.
As a passionate advocate for women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), I have worked and studied in the fields of family planning (FP); SRHR; and international health for the last eight years. I have extensive experience in FP and SRH project development, implementation and evaluation, and specialise in qualitative SRH research among vulnerable populations.
I am proud of my contribution to rights-based SRHR research and hope to inform policy and practice as well as highlight the cross-cutting impact access to FP and SRH services has on the broader Sustainable Development Goals.
Travelling the world in my 20s and my SRH research with resettled refugee women in Australia set me on my path in the global FP arena. These experiences showed me firsthand the vital role FP plays in enabling women and girls to continue education and work as well as the impact it has on poverty reduction and increased quality of life. Access to FP and SRH services is a key factor in girls’ and women’s empowerment and enables them to effectively and holistically take control of their own SRHR.
My biggest challenge as an FP and SRHR researcher is also my greatest reward. Barriers of language and culture are challenges when conducting qualitative research, particularly when discussing sensitive topics like FP and SRH. Cultural competency, a ready smile, an open mind and a willing ear, play important roles in helping to break down these barriers. It is a humbling and profound experience to be allowed a glimpse into the thoughts and experiences women have so generously shared with me.
In Nepal, the contraceptive prevalence rate has decreased in recent years and the unmet need for FP remains high in remote/rural regions, particularly for younger women. Issues with SRH service provision and policy implementation; geographical isolation; and socio-cultural/economic factors must be addressed.
In Australia, strategies to reduce language, cultural, and economic barriers to FP/SRH services for women and girls from refugee and migrant backgrounds are crucial to support their SRHR.
I will contribute rights-based research at a community level that informs and supports policy, programs and implementation. Through qualitative research I will ensure the voices of women and girls in developing countries are heard, and their FP and SRH needs and rights acknowledged and acted upon by policy makers and program implementers.
SRHR are fundamental human rights and at its core, FAMILY PLANNING is FUTURE PLANNING - for girls, women, families, communities, countries and the world!