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Advancing reproductive health rights

Date added: September 30, 2016

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A new generation of strategies for government accountability is needed, one that fully considers entrenched, institutional obstacles to change. Vertical integration of coordinated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy is one such strategy. Engaging each stage and level of public sector actions in an integrated way can locate the causes of accountability failures, show their interconnected nature, and leverage the local, national and transnational power shifts necessary to produce sustainable institutional change.

This case study summary is one of seven that reflect on civil society monitoring and advocacy initiatives in the Philippines – all of which aim to improve government accountability in different sectors – through the lens of vertical integration.

In 2012, the Philippines finally enacted the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, widely known as the RH law. This guarantees universal access to methods of family planning, age-appropriate reproductive health and sexual education, and maternal and reproductive health services.

This case study focuses on the story of Likhaan Centre for Women’s Health, part of the Reproductive Health Alliance Network (RHAN). It shares experiences and lessons from the successful campaign, looking at the initiatives and actions that took place at different levels of policy-making.

Lessons for vertical integration:

  • Vertical integration can be costly and resources are needed to maintain and run networks. In this campaign, there was funding from local and international partners; this was mirrored by the labour of committed activists and grassroots women who sustained their activism on very little
  • Vertical integration was facilitated by RH advocates who brought together important government officials
  • The RH campaign was not designed to be vertically integrated, but instead adapted to opportunities and challenges. Although there was vertical integration in some parts of the campaign, it has also been described as ‘rhizomatic’ – a complex network of intersecting and non-intersecting organisations that includes both horizontal and vertical integration.

See also "Going vertical: citizen-led reform campaigns in the Philippines", with all case studies here

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