The contexts in which people are working to realise SRHR across Africa and in other parts of the world are very different. Living conditions, environments, available resources, health facilities and government structures vary enormously. Despite these variations, the barriers to exercising SRHR – and the forces that build those barriers – are often similar. Social, cultural and religious norms, legal and policy frameworks, economic circumstances, geographic and environmental conditions and other factors all play a role in determining what services are available where and to whom, as well as the quality of those services. Efforts to ensure equal access to comprehensive SRHR for all, in the remotest village or the biggest city, commonly confront the same threats and constraints, such as poverty and inequality, exclusion, stigma and discrimination, conflict. Patriarchy and homophobia continue to drive high levels of sexual and gender-based violence around the world.
Just as there are common enemies in the fight for universal SRHR, there are lessons, tactics, approaches and strategies to overcome them that can be usefully shared. Building a ‘Regional Learning Community’ that operates both in the virtual and the real world is one tool for doing this.
The Regional Learning Community is a space where network members can share ideas and resources, reflect on lessons from their own practice, debate critical issues in SRHR and collaborate with others on research, development of training materials and promote effective practice.