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Call for action

The Trust and Support Foundation Join voice with 150 women advocates in Lagos State Nigeria to demand the immediate lift of suspension on safe legal abortion guideline we believe that the state government is being blackmailed by religious, cultural, and political sentiments, and women have a right to their bodily integrity and take a decision on their reproductive health.  what the guild lines is pushing for us to save women from a good preventable death. The suspension of the Guideline on safe Termination of pregnancy for Legal indication should immediately be lifted. 

Restrictive laws have not prevented women with unplanned pregnancies from resorting to abortion anywhere, it only makes the procedure dangerous and unsafe. Women should be allowed to make informed decisions on their body autonomy and self-manage their abortion in a safe way

Trust And support Foundation (TSF) is a non-governmental and non-profitable organisation establish in 2018 formerly known as Trust And care initiative.The organisation is rooted to support women and girls in rural communities with passion to reduced morbidity and mortality rate among young women of reproductive ages through adequate knowledge on SRHR, equity, gender-based violence and HIV. we sustain a common front to enable women and girls make inform decision about their general well-being through information, income generation activities. You can learn more about the organization here: THE TRUST AND SUPPORT FOUNDATION

Centre for Social Concern and Development (CESOCODE) called on the Government and Pharmacists to improve women’s access to health using Technologies in Malawi.

Cross section of participants who attended the May 28 meeting.

May 28th is the International Day of Action for Women’s Health. Women’s rights advocates and allies in the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) movement worldwide have commemorated in diverse ways. MAMA Member selected this year’s theme as “Using technology to improve women’s access to health”

CESOCODE commemorated the day by organizing an offline meeting to call the government through the Ministry of health and the Pharmacists to facilitate access to telemedicine and to Work together with feminist organizations and hotlines to provide the correct information to those seeking abortion, free of judgment and stigma.

For the part of the government, we discussed that the government has a role to make sure that the sharing of information about Abortion and Self-Managed Abortions has been decriminalized, it facilitating access to abortion pills and allowing pregnant people, who wish to abort on the first trimester abortions to be able to access Self-Managed Abortion outside Health facilities.

During the meeting we also discussed that, to maximizing the potential for medical abortion to improve access to safe abortion and reduce use of unsafe methods, the pharmacies need to be supported to ensure that high quality products are available, and women have access to client-cantered information about how to use these products safely. Feminist organizations can support pharmacies to increase access and improve quality through:

  • Training pharmacy workers to deliver accurate information and support
  • Ensuring contact details are included on the packaging for follow-up care, in case unexpected side effects arise
  • Providing 24 hour hotlines to share tailored information about MA self-management and follow-up care
  • Including pictorial instructions in product packaging, for clients with language and literacy barriers.

We discussed that feminist organizations have a role to ensure that women are accessing safe abortion information without relying on pharmacy staff only. For example, safe abortion hotlines are commonly used to ensure that individuals can access counselling and information about self-management of medical abortion. Hotlines can offer confidential and personalized counselling, and including an advice online on the packaging of medical abortion products can help facilitate access to those who need it. Hotlines also offer information about how to use the pills in a freely accessible way. This means that using technology to improve women’s access to health is important. 

Vision in Action Cameroon( VIAC) is debunking myths around SRHR

With support from the MAMA network, VIAC is able to organize a good number of community interventions and research on access to SRHR information specifically on safe abortion and self-managed abortions in Cameroon. Using various techniques and strategies in community interventions, we are able to design and organize age-appropriate programs targeting different age groups within our program scope.   As a means to talk about self managed and safe abortion with pills in our setting (restrictive) we have organize seventeen (17) community outreach, held six (06) safe spaces with adolescent girls and young women, four (04) sessions with persons with disabilities and seven (07) sessions with internally displaced persons (women) in the past five months.

Our entry points have always been sexual health education, menstrual hygiene management, contraceptives including male and female condoms, and access to safe abortion information. These outreaches involved parents, whereby Vision in Action (VIAC) advocated for access to sexual reproductive health for adolescents. 

In our safe space discussion with adolescent girls and young women, we reached out to 88 AGYW in our safe space initiative. Through our sessions, we are able to create an enabling environment for them to share their stories and find empathy within the group thereby reducing abortion stigma, increasing confidence and self-esteem, and clarifying myths about self-managed abortion while sharing information on the hotline. 

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(Pic decription: A cross section of safe space discussion) 

An attained milestone for the organization is our work with girls and women with disabilities; we organize four sessions reaching out to 52 girls and women with disabilities in the region. It was amazing to see and know the needs for women with disabilities, how different the needs are and to say the least, how impactful was our session. Ranging from talking about contraceptives and menstrual health.

It’s worth highlighting that, the outcome of these activities in rural and urban areas varied as people in the rural areas had so many myths about contraceptives and sex education, highlighting stigmatization and fear of promiscuity as one of the reasons for the lack of sex education for adolescents.  In urban areas, there were a lot of misconceptions about contraceptive use. Many people attributed the usage of contraceptives (except condoms) to infertility. 

At the end of these community outreaches, a positive impact was created as they stop believing myths associated to sexual reproductive health, thus their interest grew over time as an overwhelming number of people contacted the hotline to get more information on their sexual reproductive health. Because parents of adolescents gained knowledge on the importance of sexual reproductive health, after the session, parents talked about sex education with their children. Moreover, we were called back by the parents of some communities as they gave us the opportunity to talk about contraceptives, safe abortions and sex education with adolescents. This created a free atmosphere for these children to discuss issues of their sexuality without being reproached. 

ACCOMPAGNER LES JEUNES FILLES, FEMMES ET GARÇONS SUR LA NÉCESSITÉ DE L’AVORTEMENT SÉCURISÉ.

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Les facilitateurs ont mis les points rappelant que l’entrée dans la vie sexuelle active des adolescents et jeunes représente une étape importante mais aussi très difficile pour la plupart des jeunes et adolescents. Car il faut concilier d’une part les aspects positifs et prometteurs de la sexualité «découverte, amour, partage», d’autres part les aspects négatifs «crainte d’une grossesse précoce, des maladies sexuellement transmissibles comme les IST et du VIH/SIDA». D’où la nécessité du programme sur la santé sexuelle et reproductive des adolescents et jeunes (SSRAJ). L’adolescence est caractérisée par une augmentation de contact avec le sexe opposé. Ainsi à l’éveil sexuel de la puberté s’ajoute les dimensions sexuelles amoureuses, pour certains c’est le début de relation allo sexuelle. Les conditions d’entrée dans la vie sexuelle diffèrent d’une région à une autre. Les facteurs influençant cette entrée sont notamment; les normes sociales, la foi et la spiritualité, la tradition, les médias, le prolongement généralisé des études mais aussi et surtout les avancées enregistrées dans le domaine de la contraception et pour certains pays la légalisation de l’avortement. Des nombreuses études se sont penchées sur le concept de fécondité des adolescentes et ont noté un accroissement de l’activité sexuelle des célibataires  et donc des grossesses avant le mariage. Actuellement, la socialisation sexuelle des femmes reste toujours plus contrôlée que celle des hommes, et leurs premiers rapports sont à la fois plus souvent tardifs et parfois encore mal vécus. En Afrique subsaharienne, la sexualité préconjugale est intense, précoce, instable, multipartenaire, diversement justifiée, dépendant des caractéristiques socio-économiques, sociodémographiques et socio- culturelles des jeunes et des membres de leurs ménages. 

Dans presque tous les pays, la loi permet l’avortement pour sauver la vie de la mère, et dans la majorité des pays, l’avortement est autorisé pour préserver sa santé physique et/ou mentale. Par conséquent, il faut que des services d’avortement sécurisé, tels que prévus par la loi, soient disponibles et applicable. C’est la lutte que l’ organization membre mene auprès des autorités ou les décideurs.

L’avortement non sécurisé, ainsi que la morbidité et la mortalité associées chez les femmes, sont évitables. Des services d’avortement sécurisé devraient donc être disponibles et accessibles pour toutes les femmes, dans le plein respect de la loi.

l’accès à l’avortement légal reste très limité  en partie à cause de: 

• La compréhension et l’application incohérente de la loi par  les institutions juridiques et les personnes chargées de faire appliquer les lois.

 • L’intégration lente du langage du Protocole de Maputo  dans les lois nationales. 

• Les stigmas graves contre les femmes qui cherchent ou qui  ont eu un avortement.

Ceci occasionne des avortements clandestins, non sécurisés et souvent y a perte de vies

Centre for Social Concern and Development (CESOCODE) engages Adolescent girls and young women in access to Sexual Reproductive Health services.

 

Cross-section of adolescent girls who attended the meeting  

As one way of improving access to Sexual Reproductive Health among adolescent girls and young women in Chiradzulu and Zomba districts in Malawi, the Centre for Social Concern and Development (CESOCODE) conducted Adolescent girls and young women SRH friendly meetings. The meetings were aimed at discussing different SRH issues affecting adolescent girls and young women about Youth Friendly Health Services, finding possible solutions to the challenges and strategizing on how they can deal with those challenges, and identifying and engaging possible stakeholders like pharmacists and community-based health workers who could help solve the challenges. The meetings were also aimed at strengthening and raising the capacity of adolescent girls and young women accessing SRH services at Chiradzulu and Zomba Health Centres.
 During the meetings, girls and young women shared with the gathering the different activities they are undertaking to help fellow adolescent girls and young women understand Sexual Reproductive Health issues in their communities. Some girls and young women reported using drama, forum theatre, songs, poems, and sports as strategies for disseminating information to their peers.
 Pharmacists and Community Based Health workers have a role and a responsibility to play to promote Youth Friendly Health Services and make sure that adolescent girls and young women have access to the right knowledge and services in terms of  Sexual Reproductive Health; There is a need to intensify activities aimed at educating adolescent girls and young women in Zomba and Chiradzulu districts with information on SRH issues, and adolescent girls Young women from different groups should encourage their peers to go to the health facilities every time they have Sexual Reproductive health issues but also to access Youth Friendly Health Services.

CESOCODE is conducting a six-month project in Chiradzulu and Zomba districts with financial support from MAMA Network to promote access to SRH services among adolescent girls and young women.   

Introducing the MAMA Sophia App

Sex, pregnancy, love, and health are complicated enough as it is, whether you are a young woman studying and building a career, or a parent managing a family. Matters of family planning and birth control or sexual and reproductive health, in general, are complex. 

Everyone can benefit from more trusted, reliable support! 

The MAMA Network has created a mobile phone app that will make it all simpler. The Mama Sophia app is designed to give you the confidence and convenience you need to live your best life. Mama Sophia is a free mobile app that will help you manage your period, choose effective contraception, deal with an unplanned pregnancy, and connect you with a network of qualified and empathetic experts!

Mama Sophia offers the full range of solutions for young people and women who want to not just take care, but take control of their sexual and reproductive lives, starting with a customized period tracker. Answer a few questions to establish your cycle and Mama Sophia will provide a reliable calendar with the days of your menstruation, the days you may be ovulating, and support if you miss a period. You can also reach out to Mama Sophia’s network of experts for a chat or call if you have questions. 

What about pregnancy? The Mama Sophia app can track pregnancy as well, and tell you how far along you may be. If you decide you don’t want to continue with a pregnancy, there are confidential hotlines to offer information on safe abortion and someone to talk to if you need support. Mama Sophia also has a feature for women who want to know which contraceptive method may be best for them. Just go through a quick and easy quiz that will lead you to options that suit your lifestyle and preferences.

The Mama Sophia app is a free, lightweight app from the MAMA Network and is available now in the App Store and the Google Play store. For more information on the Mama Sophia app, like and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For any inquiries write to us at coordinator@mamanetwork.org or info@womenhelp.org

MAMA Network is looking for a video animator!

Mobilizing Activists around Medical Abortion – MAMA – Network is a collaboration of grassroots activists and feminist groups based in Sub-Saharan Africa. The MAMA Network represents a regional movement of activists working to share evidence-based and stigma-free information about self-managed medical abortion and sexual and reproductive health and rights directly with women on community level.

As part of its work on information sharing, MAMA has developed its own E-learning platform, accessible only to its members, with videos, quizzes and live Q&A sessions on different subjects relevant to its goals.

Looking into improving the materials provided, MAMA is now hiring a video animator.

Scope of work:

  •  Developing illustrations for MAMA’s animated videos
  •  Animating 5 videos of around 8 minutes each according to the script provided.

Qualifications and experience:

  •  Ability to communicate in English (French is an asset)
  •  Proven experience in developing animated videos

Interested applicants should submit their proposals stating their experience in a similar position, including 1 or 2 samples of work they have done and a budget to coordinator@mamanetwork.org on or before March 18th. We regret that only shortlist applicants will be contacted.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the scope of work, please don’t hesitate to reach out on the email above.

Pharmacists training to promote access to safemedical abortion services in Malawi

The cross section of the participants who attended pharmacists training 

Pharmacists need refresher training to conduct their duties effectively and against this background Centre for Social Concern and Development (CESOCODE) a MAMA member based in Malawi with funding from MAMA on granting conducted training for 20 pharmacists to equip them with accurate information on how to administer safe medical abortion in their pharmacies. Pharmacists need such refresher training sessions to sustain their knowledge and work effectively to administer safe medical abortion to clients in the community.

The training also provided accurate information and approaches that successfully improve pharmacists’ ability and willingness to administer safe medical abortions as well as referrals to other healthcare providers which will help women benefit from safe and effective medical abortions. Although pharmacists’ knowledge about medical abortion is limited, many are willing to provide medicine to help women with unwanted pregnancies. Women already seek medicines from pharmacists to end an unwanted pregnancy. 

After the training pharmacy workers showed more willingness to offer safe medical abortion services which will help to reduce cases of unsafe abortion among women and girls.

MAMA member’s meeting in Nigeria

In 2021, GIWYN, one of MAMA Network’s Coordinators, has held an in person meeting with members based in Nigeria.

The meeting was part of MAMA’s project for Visibility, Security and Continuous Innovation which is an Amplify Change supported program, and had as its goal to strengthen the work of West-African members and discuss experiences and strategies by linking and learning from each other’s work.

 

MAMA members in the meeting in 2021
MAMA members in the meeting in 2021

How is the media talking about abortion?

The way that abortion is portrayed in the media plays an important role in how people view abortions and can have a significant social and political impact. News coverage is one of the most powerful influences on public opinion, and, by extension, national and local policy agendas. By taking a closer look at how the media talks about abortion, The MAMA Network wanted to can get a better understanding of the language used, the ways that abortion is framed, and how it either contributes to abortion stigma or helps normalize abortion. Unfortunately, abortion is too often written about in the media in ways that are highly stigmatized, filled with inaccurate information, and framing it as a moral dilemma. Due to how little research has been done on how news outlets portray abortion, MAMA, along with several partners, set out to explore how the media in West Africa reports on abortion. We looked at 60 articles from media outlets across West Africa, published between 2015 and 2020, and here’s what we found. 

All articles had a clear stance on abortion – either the author(s) supported abortion rights and services or they opposed it. In articles that opposed abortion, journalists relied on heavily religious or moral language to make their argument, using words such as ‘scandalous’, ‘sin’, and ‘anti-biblical’, and described abortion seekers and people who perform abortions in negative ways. Articles against abortion were also filled with inaccurate information and misleading statistics. These articles drew heavily on the perspectives of religious officials and traditional community leaders and talked about abortion as a religious and moral problem. In some of these articles, journalists argued that abortion was against traditional values, and is a form of population control imposed by the West. Articles that pose abortion as a moral issue ignore the lived realities of people who have had abortions throughout history. People of all religions, ages, and cultures have abortions. These articles also fail to recognize that abortion is a central part of reproductive justice:  people’s right to choose to have children or not, to be supported in their decisions, and to parent in safe and sustainable environments. Abortion does not stand alone but is deeply connected to other issues, including poverty, migration, climate change, domestic violence, and so on.

On the contrary, publications that were supportive of abortion tended to use more academic language, referring to medicine, public health, and science. They drew their information from international scientific, research, or medical institutions, such as Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization. These articles used statistics and public health indicators to support their arguments and quoted both international and local health care professionals, researchers, and activists. These articles talked about abortion as a public health issue and discussed the importance of guaranteeing abortion as a human right.

The findings from this research tell us many things. The fact that we could only find 60 articles about abortion in a five-year period tells us that in general, there is very little coverage of abortion in the media. The little coverage that does exist continues to portray abortion as a highly polarised issue, perpetuating the idea that abortion is a matter of public and moral debate and not a necessary and common healthcare procedure and event in people’s lives. These articles dramatized abortion statistics, and in general used negative language to describe abortion, which in turn spreads fear and misunderstandings of the safety of abortion and the consequences of unsafe abortion. Furthermore, the voices and perspectives of people who have abortions continue to be left out of the conversation. In doing so, the media fails to show the diversity and nuance of abortion experiences and instead portrays abortion in simplistic and inaccurate ways.

The media plays an important role in disseminating information and shaping public views on abortion. So how can the media be better allies in the fight for abortion rights?

  • Frame abortion as normal part of our lives and health. This includes using evidence-based, up-to-date, accurate information from reliable sources.
  • Collaborations between the media and abortion advocates, in order to lift the voices of local experts and learn from each other.
  • Centre abortion seekers’ experiences and perspectives.Media coverage should reflect the complexities and diversity of abortion experiences, showing that abortion is a common experience and that there is no one single abortion story. This includes ensuring that there is representation of women and people who have abortions as the storytellers. We invite the media to become our allies in the fight for the destigmatisation and decriminalisation of abortion.
  • Combat misinformation. The media has a responsibility to provide factual, unbiased information. When it comes to abortion, that means ensuring that the language you use is clear and neutral, accurate, and non-judgemental. Ensure that the sources being used are reliable.

For more information on this research, please take a look at our full report.