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On 16 June 2014, Maria Deveson Crabbe, CEO of Marie Stopes International (MSI) Australia signed MSI’s first regional level Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) through their Asia Pacific Regional Office in Bangkok.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed on behalf of UNFPA by the Asia Pacific Regional Office Director, Nobuko Horibe, provides a framework for collaboration across the Asia Pacific Region.
This is an exciting development for MSI, with the MoU indicating to all UNFPA country offices in the region that MSI is a strategic partner. MSI Australia and UNFPA bring different but complementary strengths to this partnership. For example, it is often challenging for organisations such as Marie Stopes to have a prominent role in advocating for policy change – too often we are viewed as having a ‘vested’ interest. Often we need others to take the lead of working with, and persuading Governments to consider the implications of their family planning and sexual and reproductive health policies. This is where UNFPA’s advocacy and policy remit is so important. UNFPA are the globally respected agency on reproductive health and rights, with access to Governments and decision makers.
“This is a great step forward for Marie Stopes International in the Asia Pacific region,” said Maria. “If we are to expand our reach, particularly to the underserved, we need support from bodies like UNFPA to invest in transforming the policy environment in country.”
“And as the UNFPA is not a service delivery organisation, we can provide valuable in-country experience and knowledge to the partnership. We can share the wealth of information we have about the services that women and men want and how they prefer to access them, and help inform the priorities of UNFPA.“
During the meeting, Maria and Nobuko discussed some specific areas of collaboration under this MoU. These included working together on evidence and policy for the impact of family planning on economic development; collaborating at the country level to support public inquiries; and providing support for supply chain strengthening – drawing from MSI’s leadership in this area. The huge impact of MSI’s work globally was acknowledged throughout the meeting.
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