IFPA Ireland – Women need information and rights about sexuality and reporductive health

by Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik, In the following a challenging interview with Alison Spillane, Project Office at IFPA, the Irish Family Planning Association in Ireland. We talked about the objectives and services IFPA offers to women, families, and young people. They also help asylum seekers and women who experienced FGM. I would like to thank Alison for her precious information. 
What is the main objective of IFPA?
The main objective of the IFPA is to enable people to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health and to understand their rights. The IFPA envisages an Irish society where all people can enjoy a fulfilling sex life and can make informed choices in their sexual and reproductive lives; where there is full access to high quality information, education and health services regarding sex, sexuality, conception, contraception, safe abortion and sexually transmitted infections.
Which are the services you offer to women and families?
The IFPA offers a comprehensive range of services which promote sexual health and support reproductive choice on a not-for-profit basis.
We provide medical services from our two clinics in Dublin. Among the services we offer are: contraception advice and services; emergency contraception, free cervical screening, sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening and treatment; fertility advice; and menopause health checks.  
The IFPA provides pregnancy counselling services at eleven centres nationwide. Our counselling services include free pregnancy counselling, free post-abortion counselling, psychosexual therapy and generally counselling/psychotherapy.
The IFPA also delivers contraceptive training to medical professionals and sexual health training to service providers, young people, parents and community groups.
ProMosaik thinks that in the field of sexual health there is an incredible need for training. Tell us about your Graduate Certificate in Sexuality and Sexual Health Education.
The Graduate Certificate in Sexuality and Sexual Health Education was launched in June 2016 and commences in September 2017. The year-long programme is in response to the National Sexual Health Strategy 2015-2020, which recommends the development and provision of sexual health training for education and healthcare professionals. As a leading sexual health provider and expert, the IFPA formed a strategic partnership with Dublin City University to develop and deliver the programme.
This programme is the first of its kind in Ireland and provides an integrated and best practice approach to sexual health within a quality assured framework at a third level institution. The IFPA has developed innovative sexual health training for over ten years and has been actively involved in the development of this programme. The programme content will focus on developing knowledge regarding the diversity of sexualities and culture, sexual health education and sexual health promotion, in addition to teaching and learning about sexual health.
Development of women means investing in girls all over the world. What is the importance of this?
Investing in girls is crucial to enable them to reach their full potential as adults and contribute to their country’s future. In the context of sexual and reproductive health and rights, investment in this area can transform a girls’ life. For example, if a girl’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are respected, she will be protected from forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and early pregnancy, allowing her to have a safe and happy childhood and finish her education.
Why is the information about sexual life so important for young people?
Information about sexual life is important for young people to ensure they are in a position to make informed choices about their sexual health and well-being and have the means to protect themselves from unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
What about the importance of intercultural dialogue when you talk to people coming from other cultures and religions?
In particular, the IFPA has a strong track record of advocating for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women seeking asylum in Ireland. These women come from a variety of different cultures and religions. In 2009, the IFPA teamed up with AkiDwA (the national network of African and migrant women living in Ireland) to develop a programme that would inform women seeking asylum and refugees of the available sexual and reproductive health services, empower women to exercise their rights to these services and raise awareness among service providers of the barriers experienced by women seeking asylum.
In 2014, the IFPA opened Ireland’s first FGM Treatment Service, which provides free specialised medical care and counselling to women and girls in Ireland who have experienced FGM. Clients who attend the clinic can also avail of wider sexual and reproductive health services, including cervical screening, breast examination, contraception advice, STI testing and menopause check-ups. In order to increase awareness about the FGM Treatment Service, the IFPA engages in outreach work with women from affected communities, medical professionals and service providers such as community and social workers and counsellors.