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FII Campaign Manager Asmita Ghosh attended the Youth Advocacy Refresher Institute conducted by Asia Safe Abortion Partnership on May 10-12, 2019 in Mumbai. The Refresher was a follow up to the Youth Advocacy Institute created for activists working in sexual and reproductive health and rights from across Asia to share their work in abortion advocacy and partake in further training exercises.

Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) is an abortion rights advocacy organisation committed to capacity building at the regional level by connecting and boosting the work of abortion rights activists across Asia in the form of workshops, conferences and small grants.

The three day workshop saw participation by 30 youth champions from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Vietnam representing their respective country advocacy networks and the work they’ve been doing in advocating abortion rights in their countries, so that they could learn from each other’s advocacy efforts.

There were hands on advocacy exercises, like role playing various scenarios in abortion service provision – from what happens when someone discovers they have an unwanted pregnancy in a country where abortion is severely restricted, to hosting a mock press conference about abortion rights with hostile anti-choice journalists.

There were also more conceptual seminars and discussions, like the role of professional ethics in abortion care, the neoliberal market and its impact on abortion advocacy efforts across the globe (hello Global Gag Rule!), sexuality and abortion, disability rights and abortion care among others. These were conducted by stalwarts in their respective fields, like Dr Amar Jesani, Rola Yasmine and Nidhi Goyal. The Refresher Institute also saw some interesting alternative forms of fostering solidarities, like an extremely hands on Theatre workshop by performing artist Ayesha Susan Thomas, which had participants create short skits comprised of three still images.

FII’s Asmita Ghosh also gave a talk on digital advocacy and media, speaking about its recent campaign with ASAP – #AbortionMeraHaq, and how she strategised and created the content for this digital campaign. It was useful for fellow Youth Champions who all have their own digital advocacy campaigns to advance abortion rights in their respective countries. Popular feminist portal Agents of Ishq also gave a talk on how they used humour to create feminist sex-positive content on the internet.

The entire experience was a fulfilling and important exercise in reinforcing the Youth Champions’ commitment to abortion advocacy, and to learn and grow from each other.

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