30 April 2021
Eunice Themba, Project Manager, AMOG
In a year that saw access to reproductive health services diminish due to
COVID-19 and associated restrictions, International Women’s Day 2021 provided a
welcome opportunity to reflect on, learn about and advocate for important
women’s health topics, including access to safe abortion. Unsafe abortion
remains a huge cause of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity.
The World Health Organization estimates that around 13% of maternal deaths are
attributable to unsafe abortion, and that around 3 in every 4 abortions in
Africa and Latin America are unsafe. According to the 2011 Demographic Health
Survey, unsafe abortion was a leading cause of preventable maternal death in
Mozambique, one of ten countries in FIGO’s Advocating Safe Abortion Project. In
order to reverse this dramatic situation that affects girls and women, the new
Penal Code of 2014 was approved (law Nr 35/2014 of December 31st), that was
revised in 2019 (Law Nr 24/2019 of December 24th), which included, in Article
168, the modalities that make abortion non-punishable.
22 April 2021
On 18th March 2021, FIGO – in collaboration with the Centre for Reproductive Rights and Ipas – organised a discussion on ‘Access to medical abortion and self –managed abortion. Key insights from health workers and human rights advocates: on guaranteeing human rights’ with United Nations treaty monitoring committee members and Special Procedures mandate holders.
These elected UN experts have a responsibility to interpret human rights treaties, which includes monitoring states’ compliance with their legally binding human rights obligations and recommendations from UN experts. This includes reproductive rights and access to safe abortion. The UN experts do this by conducting fact-finding missions and issuing progress reports and statements, in addition to conducting review meetings with governments to assess their progress.
11 March 2021
As part of FIGO’s ongoing Advocating for Safe Abortion Project (ASAP), three of our member societies shared their experiences engaging with traditional healers and the lessons they have learned from these activities and engagements.
‘Traditional healer’ is used to describe a person who provides counselling and/or herbal remedies to community members for an array of health issues. This may include supporting women and girls with their pregnancies, labour and reproductive health concerns, as well as providing the community with guidance on birth, wedding and death rituals, and other community-related affairs.
1 October 2020
Jameen Kaur, Advocating for Safe Abortion Project, FIGO
28 September 2020: on the 100th anniversary of the first law to legalise access to abortion, FIGO stands in solidarity with the international safe abortion campaign calls to strengthen access to telemedicine/self-managed abortion.
In recent months Alexandra Kollontai’s name has been shared within the reproductive rights community. It was Kollontai’s visionary leadership that led to Russia being the first country in the world to legalise abortion in 1920.
30 September 2020
Community Radio (Youth DJ Nchimunya Chadukwa whilst spinning his records) interviewed Dr. Whyson Munga, an OB-GYN at the Women and Newborn Hospital at Lusaka's University Teaching Hospital, to learn more about the sexual reproductive rights of adolescents and to better understand the issue of current statistics on early pregnancies in young people, and the impact of unsafe abortion on and why access to safe abortion services is a fundamental human right of all women/girls in Zambia.
The idea of the radio programme stemmed from the advocacy training by FIGO in June. Local youth community-based organisations and doctors agreed to jointly host a radio programme with the latter playing the role of interviewee and the former as DJ/interviewers. It was felt that to reach out to the young audience and make it more relatable, it would be interesting for young people themselves to run the show.
FIGO’s Advocating for Safe Abortion Project (ASAP) - celebrating achievements and transforming COVID-19 into an opportunity.
13 August 2020
Olga De Biaggio – ASAP Senior Project Manager
Since its inception in April 2019, the Advocating for Safe Abortion Project (ASAP) has made some clear progress towards strengthening access to safe abortion for women and girls. Every year more than 35 million women have abortions in unsafe conditions, and the need for this intervention, as well as for the prioritisation of essential sexual and reproductive health services in general, could be exacerbated even further by the COVID-19 pandemic. For these reasons, the five strategies used by ASAP are today even more relevant than ever.
Strengthen management and organisational capacity of FIGO’s member societies
All 10 member societies involved in the project have successfully established a Project Management Unit (PMU) and equipped it with the right skills to implement the ASAP’s activities. The project team at FIGO HQ supported capacity building efforts through developing key resources, conducting monitoring visits and trainings, facilitating experience sharing, and providing continuous support remotely in the areas of project management, advocacy, communication and M&E.
Dr Ruth De Leon, Sociedad Panameña de Obstetricia y Ginecología (SPOG) shares how the COVID-19 pandemic is resulting in higher levels of unintended pregnancies in Panama, and as a result places a woman at a greater risk to unsafe abortion and maternal death.
13 July 2020
Dr Ruth de Leon
The Panamanian government implemented preventative measures in January 2020, to ensure that access to and the supply of health care remained strong in order to manage COVID-19. Such measures included suspending elective surgeries, visits and external consultations both in the public and private spheres to free-up slots, in addition to suspending vacations for health workers in the public sector as well as making more beds and resources available within the public and private health sector.
Four days after the first case was confirmed in Panama, on March 13, 2020, a curfew occurred, which started out being flexible, of only 8 hours (from 9:00 pm to 5:00 am), but since then there has been a 24-hour curfew.
COVID-19 lockdowns leading to a rise in violence against women and girls
The global COVID-19 pandemic in its indiscriminate spread has claimed loved ones before their time - once bustling cities and neighbourhoods now stand in ‘lock-down’.
14 May 2020
While the spread of COVID-19 is indiscriminate, mounting evidence has revealed that COVID-19 has further compounded existing inequalities putting already marginalised women and girls, often with weaker access to political and economic power, at greater risk, not only to the coronavirus but also to the direct and indirect consequences of lock-down.
FIGO and our 132 National Member Societies commitment to promote women’s health and rights precedes the COVID-19 pandemic, yet the two are explicably linked. UN Women has reported a global rise in domestic violence cases and new evidence released by UNFPA reveals that for every 3 months the lockdown continues an additional 15 million cases of gender-based violence are expected, 13 million women will not be able to access modern contraceptives and there will be an estimate of 325,000 unintended pregnancies.
Science should guide all our health policies... including abortion
Our total abortion ban is no less dangerous or unhinged (or even idiotic, for that matter) than Donald Trump’s notorious recommendation to ‘drink bleach’ as an antidote to COVID-19
5 May 2020
I guess it had to take a major global health emergency to make us finally understand what should really have been obvious all along. Yes, Dr Fearne: our national policies should be based on scientific advice... and not on popular opinion, electoral concerns, or (still less) the demands of powerful lobby groups.
It is, in fact, thanks to the health authorities’ science-based approach that Malta has so far been spared the nightmare scenarios we have seen unfolding almost everywhere else in the world. As Fearne himself put it last Friday: “We are in today’s positive situation because from the very beginning we abided by what science was telling us, and what the numbers were suggesting.”
Declare abortion a public health issue during pandemic, WHO urged
Charities press World Health Organization to ensure women can get contraception and safe abortions during crisis
Fri 10 Apr 2020
The World Health Organization is being urged to declare abortion an essential health service during the coronavirus pandemic.
In guidance notes issued last week, the WHO advised all governments to identify and prioritise the health services each believed essential, listing reproductive health services as an example.