Vice-Versa, a Dutch Journalistic Magazine for Global Issues, has published an extended feature on Share-Net International.
Introducing the Share-Net network, Dorine Thomissen, Zalissa Bandé, and Diana Carolina Peña the coordinators of Share-Net International, Burkina Faso, and Colombia share their experiences of SRHR work in their locations and as part of the Share-Net International network. The article introduced several core Share-Net activities including the Co-Creation Conference, youth empowerment, the recent LRPP conference, the digital platform, and SHIRIM (Share-Net International Rapid Sharing Model). Peña shares how Share-Net Colombia benefited from SHIRIM methodologies. Until the Covid-19 pandemic, menstrual health was not an issue in Colombia, due to this accessing snaitary products became much more challenging. By knowledge- sharing amongst hubs and using SHIRIM, Peña notes Share-Net Colombia was able to learn about experiences of menstrual hygiene and lack of access to menstrual hygiene products that many African countries have experienced for longer, and methods of tackling this.
Extract: ‘Lack of access to safe abortion means that many girls and young women undergo illegal and unsafe abortions. Many of these women die as a result, in Burkina Faso.’ It is one of the first things Zalissa Bandé mentions when asked about the SRHR issues in her country. Lack of adequate sex education and access to information, especially in rural areas, are also important, she says. ‘Politically, there has been a change in that area,’ she explains. ‘Many laws in favour of SRHR have been introduced, but unfortunately many of them have not been implemented. For example, there is a law that allows safe abortion, but in practice women do not have access to it.’ Yet Burkina Faso is progressive in other areas: contraceptives have been available for free to everyone in public hospitals since 2019. Carolina Peña from Colombia also cites safe abortion as a top priority when it comes to improving sexual and reproductive health and rights, in addition to combating sexual violence and promoting the rights of the LGBTI community.
Bandé and Peña are the coordinators of the Share-Net International (SNI) hubs in their respective countries—the international knowledge platform on SRHR, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is organised as a network of hubs, hosted by existing NGOs in the various countries. The staff is not employed by SNI, but by those local organisations. The secretariat of Share-Net International is located in the Netherlands and is part of the SRHR team of KIT Royal Tropical Institute. Bandé works at SOS Jeunesse et Défis, an NGO in Burkina Faso, and Peña works at the Colombian NGO Profamilia. There are also hubs in Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia and Jordan.