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What does climate change have to do with a global abortion rights conference? By By Jessica Work, Fiji (IPPF ESEOAR SROP YOUTH NETWORKER)

February 2024 brought with it the unique and transformative energy of the Abortion Reproductive Justice Conference (ARJC) 2024. 

This was a melting pot of ideas, advocacy, and empowerment at the Mahidol University: Faculty of Public Health in Bangkok, Thailand. It was a a place where I found academicians and activists for abortion across the globe, engaging discussions on the complexities of abortion advocacy to exploring the intersectionality of reproductive justice.

Every moment was a lesson in empowerment and collaboration!

Some of the key highlights for me were:

  1. Witnessing the power of art in advocacy. Artists and activists alike demonstrated how creativity can be harnessed to challenge stigma and drive social change. 
  2. The importance of research in informing evidence-based advocacy was underscored, emphasizing the need for data-driven approaches in advancing reproductive rights. 
  3. Understanding the abortion landscape in different regions, for those with heavy legal restrictions or where abortion was illegal, high rates of unsafe abortion were seen. On the other hand, in certain regions where abortion was legal, we see it being accessible to those of high income. 

Growing up in the Pacific region, where people still think abortion is illegal instead of the reality where it is heavily restricted (except for Tonga), it was a reminder that despite supportive legislations, challenges still existed. 

As a presenter, I had the privilege to share insights on youth leadership within the safe abortion rights movement. From the significance of intergenerational mentoring to the role of formalized processes, my presentation highlighted IPPF’s dedication to empowering the next generation of advocates. It was a good platform to urge representatives of different organizations and institutes to start investing in their young people by formalizing these processes so that there is accountability, transparency and consequently a continuity of a stronger movement. 

What are the interlinkages between climate justice, safe abortion and SRHR?

I had the opportunity for bringing to light the reality that climate change impacts SRHR and abortion in the Pacific. Through my presentation I addressed the intersection of climate justice and reproductive justice in the Pacific and how it involves understanding the real-life impacts of environmental changes on people’s health and rights, and coming together to find innovative solutions that protect the most vulnerable members of society.

ARJC fostered a supportive atmosphere, where individuals from diverse backgrounds came together to exchange ideas and strategies. Looking ahead, my hopes for the Pacific region are grounded in a vision of strengthened reproductive justice especially in line with our climate justice advocacy and amplified youth leadership. 

By confronting the intersecting challenges of our time, we can pave the way for a future where safe abortion rights are truly universal. 

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