| Author: Tom Haines | Function: Communications Advisor

Right Here Right Now at HLPF 2018: Experiences of a National Coordinator

Part of the Right Here Right Now strategic partnership, is that representatives of country platforms attend high-level, international events to advocate for better sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Solange Mbaye, the National Coordinator of the RHRN platform in Senegal, took part in the United Nation’s High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in New York. This event aims to follow up on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals and Solange was able to accompany the official Senegalese delegation to many side events.

Beninese women playing the confidence game (Photograph: Ibrahim Moussa)In the first week Solange participated in the HLPF alone. “My colleague Anne, of IPPF Africa Region, only joined in the second week. It’s hard and a lot of work to attend everything by yourself, there are so many things going on at the same time, and everyone is constantly running”, Solange explains. “There is a main room, where all the big events take place. But at the same time, there are many side events going on. I tried to participate in as many events and side-events as I could to promote Right Here Right Now and talk about sexual and reproductive health and rights.”

“I was able to show that the SDGs are directly linked to SRHR.” 

 
Solange Mbaye
National Coordinator Right Here Right Now platform in Senegal

Sustainable Development Goals

“The side events are sometimes outside of the United Nations building. For example, I attended a satellite session by Woman Deliver. It’s nice, because it offers more opportunities to get to the floor to speak than in the main room. This way I could really tell people and organisations about the Right Here Right Now movement, get people to know about us and initiate interesting discussions. While at the same time, I could get to know and speak to other organisations and people who are working on the same issues.”

In what way can this experience contribute to the Right Here Right Now strategic partnership?

Solange: “I worked with many people within the Senegalese Delegation on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Many of them had not linked these goals to sexual and reproductive health and rights yet. For them, the focus was more on the environmental or water-related issues. I was able to show that goals 3 (good health and well-being), 4 (quality education), and 5 (gender equality), are directly linked to SRHR. Although their focus was more on goals 6 (clean water and sanitation) and 11 (sustainable cities), I worked on demonstrating the linkages to the other SDGs and reminding them of the importance of young people’s health.”

“My networking in New York has given us the opportunity to speak to people we couldn’t reach before.”

New connections

Connecting with other people and organisations are another way in which her presence in New York will have a positive impact. “There are many people in New York that I would not have had the chance to speak to back in Senegal. Whenever we would try, we would be directed to a secretary for example. This experience of networking will most likely give us the opportunity to get in touch with the Ministers of Health and Justice back in Senegal, but also with our prime-councillor. It’s a few steps in the right direction, now we will work back home on making sure SRHR will be included in their national reports. It’s easier to get in touch now that we met.”

The next steps for Solange are organising a meeting on sharing the findings on SRHR from HLPF 2018. “Then we will focus on sustaining the network which was started”, concludes Solange. Overall, Solange is satisfied with her two weeks in New York. It was hard work, but she managed to be at many different events in a short period of time. The effects of her work will bring the Senegalese Right Here Right Now platform to a higher level.

 

Tom Haines Communications Advisor

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