Championing access to high-quality SRH for women and girls

Posted 08 Mar 2021

Date: 08 Mar 2021

Author: Dr Subo Shanmuganathan, interim CEO

Dr Subo Shanmuganathan, our interim CEO, celebrates International Women’s Day and shares our progress towards achieving high-quality sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) for all.

Improved access to abortion and contraception has revolutionised women's lives by supporting them to take control of their reproductive health. This International Women’s Day, we want to take a moment to celebrate some of the progress we’ve made here at FSRH – while also recognising there is still much more we can do.

Our vision is a world where access to sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) empowers all individuals, including women and girls, to lead healthy, fulfilling lives. We want to achieve high-quality SRH at all stages of life – from relationships and sex education, right through to menopause.

We believe in equality and inclusivity for all – within our organisation, for our members and especially supporting the sexual and reproductive healthcare choices of women. There is no gender equality without ensuring the SRH rights of women and girls.


Progress towards our goals

Over the past year we’ve supported our members to provide essential SRH care during the COVID-19 pandemic. We produced guidance for the prioritisation and restoration of essential SRH services, created a COVID-19 hub with up-to-date resources, and conducted a survey to learn about our members’ experiences and to share these insights with the Government.

We believe it is vital that women have access to the information they need to make the best choices for their sexual and reproductive health. With this in mind, we produced our first ever patient-focused guide for women seeking SRH services during the pandemic. Our guidance helped women to stay informed about contraception, abortion, and other SRH services during this difficult and uncertain time.

We have also been working to ensure that access to SRH services improves beyond the pandemic. We have campaigned for the temporary measure allowing the home use of both abortion pills to be made permanent, and for the progestogen-only contraceptive pill to be reclassified as a pharmacy medicine.

We are also proud of all the work that has gone into launching our redesigned Diploma & FSRH Training Hub. Our qualifications and training and standards and guidance empower healthcare professionals to provide safe, effective SRH and support contraceptive choices.


Much more work to do

A female doctor talking to a female patientYet we also recognise that while progress has been made, there is still much more to do. We want to ensure that women and men are able to access sexual and reproductive health care and information without fear, harassment, stigma or judgement.

This year, we will continue to advocate for the importance of SRH services, and will work to ensure that these vital services are adequately funded in the future. We hope to advance our campaign for buffer zones around abortion clinics, which allow girls and women to access abortion care without fear of harassment. We will also be supporting the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Making Abortion Safe campaign, which aims to improve access to abortion and post-abortion care around the world.


A huge thank you

International Women’s Day is about women’s rights, and a key part of this is access to high-quality, person-centred sexual and reproductive healthcare. On this special day, we want to thank the amazing women in our specialty who work hard to ensure everyone has the right to access the SRH care they need.

With the support of our members, trainers, committee members and wider SRH community, we will continue to work hard to champion our vision.