Posted by Maria Codina on December 6, 2018 at 10:18 am
On the 30th of October 2018, Share-Net’s Netherlands Community of Practice ‘Linking Research, Policy and Practice’ together with Oxfam Novib Academy organised the 7th Annual meeting for students, NGO practitioners and policymakers. The event took place in The Hague and had two concurrent sessions where students presented their research. During the first part of the meeting, 14 students from various universities in and outside the Netherlands presented the findings of their Master thesis research in the field of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). The afternoon was concluded with a speed dating session where students and organisations could meet and explore future research opportunities and needs in the field of SRHR.
This meeting aimed to bring together policymakers, practitioners and researchers working on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in international development and students who have finalised or are in the last stages of completing their Master research on SRHR. In addition, with this meeting, Share-Net wishes to create linkages between research, policy and practice that are not naturally present, and focus on preconditions to strengthen these linkages. Finally, Share-Net would like to stimulate research-informed policy and practice through activities.
Summaries including recommendations for policy and practice from the sessions in which the students presented their findings are given below. The links to the students’ abstracts and presentations are enclosed on the last page of this report.
Session 1A. Agency against the odds: exploring decision making and social norms
Chair: Carmen Reinoso (Oxfam Novib)
Presenters: Tes Schmeink, Francesca Patan, Brittany Haga and Isabel Koopmanschap
During this session, students presented different cases on how young people and women understand and deal with agency concerning contraception, child marriage and non-invasive parental testing (NIPT). Presenters linked young people and women’s agency to the quality of information those groups receive. When talking about child marriage, agency is linked to economic hardship, power relations and marriage is seen as the only socially accepted manner to fulfil a successful life. To increase choice for young people and women, it is crucial to improve knowledge about alternative contraceptive methods and non-invasive prenatal testing methods.
In conclusion, all recommendations focused on improving the information offered to young people and women, whether it is about contraception, Comprehensive Sexuality Education or non-invasive parental testing methods. Besides, it is essential to increase experts’ knowledge as well. This will promote shared decision-making between specialists and the studied communities.
Session 1B. Getting it done: why good ideas don’t always work in practice
Chair: Tasneem Kakal (KIT Royal Tropical Institute)
Presenters: Andrea Willems, Mellysa Kowara, Léa Darvey and T. Vermeiden (replacing Mitchell Windsma)
Putting policy into practice might not always go as planned. The students presented their findings on the factors that influenced the results of the implementation of a programme or policy. Firstly, presenters highlighted the lack or low quality of specialists, medical supplies and facilities. ‘Real life’ factors which refer to those factors that are not controllable, but that might affect the results. For instance, weather conditions or mood of the team. The third one mentioned was the position of the government. In the programmes presented, there was a mismatch between what the government offers and what the community seeks or needs. Finally, it is important to interpret evidence correctly and to be aware of the story behind the data.
During this session, presenters had a wide range of recommendations — ranging from the need to invest more money in training of specialists, the provision of adequate medical supplies and improving the quality of the health care services. Moreover, it is crucial to enhance collaboration between stakeholders, including religious and political leaders. Finally, to implement a sustainable intervention, policy-makers and organisations must acknowledge unpredictable factors that might affect the results.
Session 2A: Sexual and reproductive citizenship: navigating in an oppressive environment
Chair: Janine Wildschut (AFEW International)
Presenters: Eimear Sparks, Zhipeng Sun and Emma Davison
This session discussed how the communities studied by the presenters, navigate through oppressive environments. The students focused their research on Men having Sex with Men (MSM) in China, Roma women in the UK and queer and trans women in female spaces in the US. The studies presented the ‘oppressive environment’ as a very subtle and sensitive issue. The lack of social space for the communities surveyed, lead to misunderstandings, stigma and discrimination. Therefore, policies and programmes do not tackle the broader problem or the needs of the community.
In conclusion, it is important that there are opportunities for different groups surveyed to build communities that can stand up for them and allow them to raise their voice.
Session 2B: Service gap: the disconnect between SRHR services and needs
Chair: Maria Carmen Punzi (PSI-Europe)
Presenters: Anne Boleyn Niwetwesiga, Georgina Phillips and Marta Sanchez Martinez
In this session different topics were discussed, but all of them focused on the gap between services and needs. For instance, adapting the type and means of communication to each context is important when reaching young people. Sometimes information is available and accessible, but the strategy used to communicate is not adequate to reach young people. Another prohibiting factor is the fact that sexuality is considered a taboo in the regions studied, creating a feeling of ‘awkwardness’ when teaching Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE). It is important to not only ensure that materials are available, but also to support and provide teachers that are in charge of this topic the necessary skills to do so. Finally, when talking about sensitive topics like abortion, it was clear that the language used around the theme perpetuates gender stereotypes. It was recommended to revisit communication regarding sensitive topics like abortion and understand whether the language perpetrates gender stereotypes.
In conclusion, all presentations highlighted the importance of language and the way of offering information when talking about sexuality. There is a need to adapt the message to the audience and revise that it does not perpetuate gender stereotypes and taboos. The last recommendation would be to offer support and communication skills to talk about sexuality.
During the second part of the meeting, 11 organisations and 47 students participated in a speed dating session. This session was organised following the ideas and feedback of the Young Researchers Share-Net Netherlands Community of Practice.
To have a good match between students and NGO’s, participants were asked to indicate relevant research topics, research populations and geographical areas of work, before the meeting. Based on their interests, each student was matched with three organisations. Students received a ‘Speed Dating and Networking Chat Sheet’ and ‘How to prepare the speed dating with NGOs’ document with questions and tips on how to have a successful chat with organisations.
The following organisations participated in the speed dating: Oxfam Novib, Hivos, KIT Royal Tropical Institute, AFEW International, Cordaid, Radboud UMC, Aidsfonds, Dokters van de Wereld, Condomerie, VSO and AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
During this session, students and practitioners explored opportunities for future research. Lively conversations were held at each table, which continued after the speed dating session ended. Contact details and information folders were exchanged during the networking drinks.
Agency against the odds: exploring decision making and social norms
Getting it done: why good ideas don’t always work in practice
Sexual and reproductive citizenship: navigating in an oppressive environment
Service gap: the disconnect between SRHR services and needs
Pictures were took by Gaia Maria Chiara Cittati & Ama Appiah
Read the Report in PDF via this link.