On 1 February 2023, the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria’s (UP) entered into an agreement with the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) for the implementation of a project aimed at strengthening the protection of sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) in Africa. The duration of the agreement is three years, commencing in February 2023 and runs until January 2026.
The conclusion of the agreement was marked by a signing ceremony, which was presided over by UP’s Vice Chancellor and Principal Prof Tawana Kupe and the Ambassador of Sweden to the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Håkan Juholt, at the University of Pretoria’s Hatfield Campus.
This project aims to improve sexual and reproductive rights on the continent by strengthening knowledge generation and management on SRHR in Africa, with a particular focus on the peculiar needs of women, girls, and sexual and gender minorities. This will be achieved through initiatives such as post-graduate academic programmes in SRHR, advocacy on SRHR, research, and capacity building targeting a range of stakeholders such as public officials, civil society organizations, judicial officers and academic researchers.
The partnership will enable the Centre and SIDA to influence the interpretation of SRHR, and women’s rights (including the rights of girls) norms at the regional (African) and national levels; foster accountability for SRHR norm implementation in the African region; strengthen SRHR knowledge generation and management in Africa, through post-graduate academic programmes (particularly the Masters and Doctorate in Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa programme); and promote the harmonisation of African regional norms on SRHR, by facilitating regional standard setting and cross-country learning
This partnership is timely and significant because SRHR is an area of rights that is generally neglected or side-lined in the African region, and in which there is need for credible research that is Africa led and responsive to the contextual realities of the region, to support advocacy and policy making. The protection of the rights of sexual and gender minorities is of particular concern in the region due to negative social and political attitudes.
H.E Ambassador Håkan Juholt emphasised the government of Sweden’s commitment to the promotion and protection of SRHR, noting in particular that a significant proportion of Swedish development cooperation is aimed at efforts to promote and protect SRHR across the world.
The combination of academic, as well as advocacy interventions that the Centre comes in handy to amplify efforts to promote SRHR of women, girls and sexual and gender minorities in the region.
This agreement builds on the work of the Centre on SRHR, including academic programmes on SRHR, advocacy for the implementation of the Maputo Protocol and the African Children’s Charter, and for the implementation of Resolution 275 of the Commission including capacity building for members of the community for self and strategic advocacy in other African countries.