On May 16-19, advocates and legal experts from five countries throughout Asia came together for the sixth annual South Asia Reproductive Justice and Accountability Initiative (SARJAI) convening in Kathmandu, Nepal. This year’s convening, which brought together participants from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines, focused on tackling a variety of reproductive rights issues and built upon prior discussions on avenues for better leveraging SARJAI’s collective power to increase its impact within the region.
During the convening, participants discussed a range of complex and emerging issues, including child marriage, adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights, the Rohingya crisis, surrogacy, and the intersections of disability rights and reproductive rights. Participants shared updates and challenges on individual projects and considered potential entry points for litigation. The workshop provided critical space for the network to brainstorm on regional advocacy and to establish coordinated strategies for the SARJAI network to strengthen its influence in the region.
The convening concluded with a high level panel discussion with the SARJAI Advisory Committee composed of 9 trailblazers from the region, including former Chief Justice of Nepal; sitting Justice of Supreme Court of Nepal; UN CEDAW Committee Member; former member of National Assembly of Pakistan (joined via skype); Director General of South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC), an apex body of South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC); Senior Advocate of Supreme Court of India; Professor of ILS Law College Pune, India; Professor of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India; and Senior Activist from Bangladesh. During this panel, the Advisory Committee provided strategic guidance on amplifying SARJAI’s voice and advancing reproductive rights throughout the region.
SARJAI was formally launched in 2012 with the goal of supporting lawyers and advocates from across the region in developing strategic litigation and robust legal advocacy strategies, while fostering greater collaboration among reproductive rights stakeholders. SARJAI aims to provide a unique space for advocates to come together, brainstorm, share challenges, and learn from each other’s work. In addition to SARJAI’s annual meetings, members are invited to participate in webinars, collaborate virtually, and participate in other in-person trainings and knowledge exchanges.