Suzanne Ehlers is Vice President for International Advocacy at PAI.
Thailand has been in the international news this last week, as protests against the current Prime Minister’s administration broke out in the streets of Bangkok. Here in the north, in the city of Chiang Mai, the annual meetings of the Asia Pacific Alliance (APA) have proceeded without disruption, although the many global examples of political uncertainty and instability, as well as financial collapse and fragility, are heavy on the minds of advocates gathered here.
It is a challenging time to be advocating for increased resources to foreign assistance budgets, much less reproductive health and family planning programs. But that is what APA was created to do: bring together population, reproductive health, development and environment nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from six member countries — Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Thailand, Australia, and Canada — and promote and support collaborative advocacy to advance the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)’s Programme of Action and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Official Development Assistance (ODA) agencies in each of these donor countries are also encouraged to be a part of APA’s membership, and organizations like PAI are fortunate to be invited to the table as partners.
The first day of the conference was a day-long workshop on reproductive health supplies, supported by Project Resource, Mobilization and Awareness
(RMA), a coordinated advocacy campaign dedicated to raising awareness,
increasing resources and finding solutions to the shortage of RH
supplies globally. PAI is a partner in this effort along with the International Planned Parenthood Federation and DSW, the German Foundation for World Population. Advocates were introduced to an on-line advocacy guide and toolkit
and participated in various scenarios exercises, breaking into small
groups and role playing different advocacy opportunities. The workshop
was deemed provocative, challenging and eye-opening: a foreshadowing of
the remaining days of the conference!
Stay tuned for more posts from Thailand!