From population control to reproductive health: learning from policy change in India and Pakistan

Jill Keesbury, Population Council, Nairobi

This paper examines the politics of integrating the Cairo agenda into the population policies of India and Pakistan. Looking at recent national reproductive health (RH) policies in these two countries, this paper works to explain why the vision of RH endorsed in each document is so substantively different. By comparing the process of policy formulation in each country, this study finds that three factors were most influential in shaping the vision of RH presented in each document: civil society demand for a RH approach; policymakers’ desire for change; and the domestic impact of the Cairo process. When these three factors interacted positively, as in India, meaningful policy change took place at a rapid pace; and when they were not present, change was sluggish and superficial. At the halfway mark of implementing the Cairo agenda, this understanding provides important lessons for continuing efforts to integrate RH into national policies.

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Presented in Session 21: Sexual and reproductive health and family planning