Advocating Reproductive Choices

The Advocating Reproductive Choices (ARC) is a coalition of 115 civil society organisations working in the field of sexual and reproductive health and working towards advancing access to quality family planning services in the country. The coalition was formed in 2005, to advocate for family planning programs and policies by leveraging the strength of its members. Its main mandate has been to expand contraceptive choices, improve quality of care and ensure availability, accessibility, and affordability of family planning services.

The Secretariat of the coalition was initially led by Parivar Seva Sanstha, one of the founding members, followed by the Family Planning Association of India. Since 2015, the Secretariat has been hosted by the Population Foundation of India.

ARC has been a democratic platform for experts in advocacy, service delivery, community outreach, capacity building and research. Among 115 civil society organisations, the coalition comprises of nine core committee members and 106 general body members. The functions of the coalition are managed by a secretariat, which has been hosted by the Population Foundation of India since 2015. The members include organisations from the national level and primarily from five states—Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.

In 2017, ARC was appointed as the civil society focal point for India’s FP2020 Country Engagement Group. As a coalition, ARC has had several achievements including its contribution to the successful introduction of injectable contraception in India. It participates in fact-finding missions, functions as a policy and media think thank and advocates with policymakers to ensure and implement a progressive family planning agenda.

Some of ARC’s achievements as a coalition

  • Successfully advocated for new contraceptive choices which resulted in the introduction of injectable contraceptives (Antara) in the public health system, considered to be a landmark step towards giving women choice and agency.
  • Moved the discourse of family planning from health-based intervention to contraception as a universal right, putting the focus on structural issues such as empowerment of women.
  • Provided recommendations for improving quality of family planning services at the 10th Common Review Mission (CRM) organised annually by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
  • Nominated as India’s Civil Society Focal Point for FP2020 and included within the India country engagement group.
  • Functioned as a policy and media think tank by consistently drawing attention on issues such as quality of care, coercive and regressive policies, and statements.