A Human Rights and Reproductive Justice Lens for Research: Our Statement of Principles

Ibis Reproductive Health aims to use a human rights and reproductive justice lens throughout the research process. 

In a just world, we would all have the resources we need—including information, services, supportive policies, and power—to make the best choices for ourselves, our families, and our communities without discrimination or coercion, to choose whether and when to have children, and to raise them with dignity. But, because of long histories of economic inequality, racism, colonialism, gender inequality, homophobia, and numerous other systems of oppression, many people across the world lack access to the information, services, and care that would make it possible for them to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights.

Ibis recognizes that what we research, how we conduct our research, and the impact of our research must be in service to our mission and vision to build the power necessary for all people to enjoy the human right to a pleasurable, safeand healthy sexual and reproductive life.

Our approach to bold, rigorous sexual and reproductive health research:

  1. Is anchored in our core value that every individual has the human right to a pleasurable, safe, and healthy sexual and reproductive life and that governments are responsible for respecting, protecting, and fulfilling these rights.
  2. Analyzes and addresses inequalities, discriminatory practices, and unjust power relations, which we believe are at the heart of inequities in sexual and reproductive health. The reproductive justice framework, an analysis based in human rights, demands the understanding that individual choices and behaviors are never separated from the intersecting systems that impact people’s lives, and that it is critical to center the priorities of individuals who are most impacted.
  3. Engages bold, rigorous methods to produce results that shift power to communities, inform advocacy to support individuals to more effectively claim their health rights, and enhance accountability among duty bearers to meet their obligations.

Ibis understands that research is necessary, but not sufficient, for the change we seek and that large-scale change requires collaboration with advocates and other change champions. BBy partnering with communities, advocates, policymakers, service providers, and other researchers, we aim to produce research that identifies bold actions and builds alignment among stakeholders to better assess needs, document lived realities, test new strategies, disseminate information, and advance knowledge in the field that improves care, shifts public discourse, inspires innovation, and sustains changes over time.

Ibis recognizes that the tools of academic research are a source of power that can be wielded to benefit or harm the communities we seek to serve, which is why we are committed to sharing and building power with our partners. Principled partnerships mean those grounded in the values of respect, mutual accountability, and shared power. When we say principled partnerships, this is what we mean.

What partners can expect from Ibis:

In addition to conducting research of the highest ethical and quality standards, Ibis is committed to:

  • Respect. We value our partners’ knowledge, perspective, skills, talents, agency, voice, and confidentiality. Communities know best what their needs are. We commit to building research projects that are community-driven and/or responsive to community needs.
  • Mutual accountability. We believe that in research partnerships in service of justice, we must be mutually accountable to one another throughout the research process. Traditional research is an extractive process where knowledge is taken from “subjects” with little given in return. This does not contribute to a just or equitable world. Ibis is committed to sharing research results, credit for work, and the spotlight with our partners. We strive to be responsive to feedback.
  • Shared power. We commit to ensuring that decision making and the allocation of resources are transparent and support equitable participation, and to being intentional in our work and partnerships. We are committed to building power with and among our partners.
  • Making impact. Results of our research should be used to make a positive impact on the lives of people in the communities in which we work. We commit to working with our partners to ensure both the research process and the results of our research are used to shift power to communities, improve service delivery, inform public policy, and challenge stigma.

We are grateful to the amazing partners who were part of this work: GIWYN, Anu Manchikanti Gómez, Oriaku Njoku (ARC-Southeast), La Revuelta, Samsara, Cherisse Scott (SisterReach), and Monica Simpson (SisterSong).

Download our guide  for implementing a human rights and reproductive justice approach to research and partnerships.