Call for papers: South Asia

South Asia regional issue on sexual and reproductive health and rights


Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters (SRHM) promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) globally, connecting evidence with political agendas, policies and programmes.  In 2018, SRHM’s new strategy re-oriented the language editions toward strengthening our regional, organisational presence as a journal, but also as a knowledge hub for dialogue and action on SRHR. The aim was to create regional, national and community ownership in knowledge generation. Regional hubs allow diverse voices from around the world to be represented and amplified, and locally relevant issues to be identified, within and across countries.   The recently initiated South Asia Regional Hub will focus on Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to:  establish regional dialogues on key SRHR areas; provide opportunities to generate new, evidence-based knowledge generation through mentorship; and publish the first regional journal issue focused on South Asia.

The region has a diverse range of policies and approaches to SRHR, yet also shares similar contextual concerns.  Since the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994, countries have made vast gains in improving life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality, total fertility rates and contraceptive prevalence.  By and large, maternal and child health have dominated health programmes across the region, with some progress in safe abortion and youth sexual health in specific countries. Implementation barriers, weakened health systems and waning national priority have impeded further progress in SRHR, while new technologies, shifts in service delivery approaches and community-based organising for accountability present opportunities for change.

Over the past 27 years, SRHM has published over 150 articles from the South Asia region, covering a range of topics, such as maternal health, abortion, SRHR of adolescents, family planning and contraception, disability, health systems, policy and access to services, among others. A Hindi language edition was published between 2005 and 2018 in collaboration with CREA.

The inaugural South Asia Journal Issue will provide a space for researchers, policymakers, implementers, advocates and activists working on SRHR to articulate rights-based analyses on key issues within and across countries.  Through this journal issue, SRHM will strive to identify regional threads to build and strengthen local agendas for evidence generation and action. Most importantly, we hope the issue provides a space to examine challenges and progress, using a regional, multidisciplinary lens to strengthen the community of practitioners, advocates and researchers committed to improving SRHR in South Asia.


We welcome original, rights-based research articles, including primary quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research; secondary data analyses; analytical reviews, such as historical, policy and legal analyses; commentaries; and critical perspectives from authors across disciplines working on SRHR in South Asia.  We also encourage the submission of rights-based narratives, as perspectives articles, from activists and practitioners. Submissions should be in English. Papers discussing the following topics are of special interest:

1) Consent, coercion and choice, including a wide range of issues such as provision of care and services, exclusion and discrimination; pleasure and agency related to sexuality, marriage and procreation; disability, sexuality and reproduction; legal capacity to consent; sexual and other forms of violence; coercion related to SRHR; and other evolving areas of consent and choice.

2) Power asymmetries, across health systems, communities and individuals that influence SRHR and utilisation of services; and accountability mechanisms (e.g., social, legal, health system and donor accountability) to address power asymmetries, contextualised within the cultural, political and health context of the region.

3) Structural, economic and social determinants of SRHR, including global political and economic forces; changing global health architecture; local determinants such as food security, precarious employment, unsafe working and living conditions, lack of social protection for workers; and migration within and across countries.

4) Elimination of discrimination, stigma and violence against marginalised populations including lesbian, gay, transgender, intersex people, people living with HIV, sex workers, people with disabilities, migrants and people living in humanitarian settings. Aspects may include: legal recognition of transgender people; rights and evidence based distinction between sex work and trafficking; universal sexual and reproductive health coverage for people living in humanitarian settings; privacy, confidentiality and dignity related to testing and treatment for people living with HIV.

5) Identity and community politics and how they affect SRHR both positively and negatively, such as the role of community or identity-based organisations (e.g., women’s groups, trade unions, cultural or religious bodies) in articulating rights and access to services; and forms of sexual and reproductive control or restrictions on freedom in the name of caste, culture, community or religion, such as honour killings and use of abortion and contraception.

6) Technologies and SRHR, such as legal, social and rights dimensions of medical technologies; priority setting, testing and forces that shape use of evidence; and perspectives from providers and users. We welcome analyses of the use of digital technologies for information and service delivery, and rights and equity dimensions related to their use in the region.

7) Ageing, sexuality and sexual health amongst older women and men, including analyses of social and cultural norms and health system factors that influence services; reproductive histories through the life cycle; and rights-based perspectives on neglected issues such as reproductive cancers, uterine prolapse and male reproductive cancers.

8) SRHR of adolescents and young people, including younger and older adolescents; social and economic determinants; the availability, acceptability and affordability of SRH services; first-hand narratives from young people; and field experiences of programme implementation.

9) Historical, social and health system perspectives on SRHR in South Asia, focused on comparative analyses, progress and challenges, and examining how these influence differences in health status and access to services in areas such as maternal mortality; unwanted pregnancy; use of contraception; safe and unsafe abortion; and violence against women.

10) Approaches to implementing and delivering sexual and reproductive health services in diverse areas beyond maternal health that are common in the region, such as government community health workers; midwives; decentralization of local governmental institutions; working with women’s groups; and use of incentives to promote service utilization.


Submissions will be accepted between 22 May 2020 and 15 January 2021. Submit papers at:, clearly indicating that your submission is for the ‘South Asia regional issue’ and referring to this in your cover letter as well.

Please read our Instructions for Authors carefully before submission at:

Papers are encouraged specifically from authors based in the region. First authors must be currently based in the region to be eligible for a waiver of article publishing charges. All listed authors must meet the criteria for authorship set out by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.