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A Rights-based Approach: the gateway to inclusion

Everyone, regardless of race, gender or nationality, is entitled to the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But this doesn’t mean that everyone knows what these rights are or enjoy these rights. A rights-based approach is an essential tool in helping people realise their human rights. That is why Simavi applies a rights-based approach in all our work to strengthen the position of women and girls and it is one of the three fundamental principles when designing our programmes.

Realising human rights through Simavi’s programmes

Our programmes consider the human rights that are related to Simavi’s expertise areas: Water & Sanitation, Hygiene, Maternal Health, Bodily Integrity and Menstrual Health. Simavi’s programmes seek to support the realisation of the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (‘right to health’), the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation (‘HRWS’) and different rights related to the right to sexual and reproductive health.

Simavi assesses systematically the alignment of its programmes with relevant human rights principles and monitors their implementation accordingly. Furthermore, all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are rooted in human rights, and many are impossible to realise without access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).

Human rights are inherent to all human beings, which means: leaving no one behind

The central message of the Sustainable Development Agenda is ‘leave no one behind’. To achieve this, you need to reach the furthest behind first, which in many cases are women. Because gender inequality makes it harder for women to realise their rights, which is why Simavi applies a women-centred approach in all our work to strengthen the position of women and girls in Africa and Asia.

We reach this goal by making rights-holders aware of their rights, empowering them to claim their rights, and strengthening the capacity of duty-bearers to provide them. A good example of a rights-based approach is given in our women-centred programme, The Golden Line.

One of the objectives is to empower groups of women and train communities to use social accountability mechanisms ensuring women can claim their rights and demand better services. Simavi provides information and trains health care providers on women-friendly services to achieve this. Through the combination of these strategies we ensure increased access to SRHR information, products and health services for women.

How Lobby and Advocacy supports in realising human rights

Influencing policy and establishing international obligations are essential to achieve structural changes for a healthy life for everyone. That is why lobby and advocacy are a cornerstone of Simavi’s work. They are key tools in holding states, and other duty-bearers to account for protecting, respecting and fulfilling human rights.

Simavi integrates into its programmes various activities to strengthen the capacities for empowerment of women and girls (rights-holders) to claim and exercise their rights, and the capacities for accountability of the local, national and international governments (duty-bearers) to meet its human rights obligations.

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