Each year, 22 million women resort to unsafe methods to end an unintended pregnancy, often risking their lives. This is a public health emergency.
At Marie Stopes International (MSI), we’re working to change that—but we know that providing contraception and safe abortion care is not enough.
Every day, in every country where we work, we see our services restricted by regulations that prevent women and girls from seeking and receiving the care they so desperately want.
In response, we are creating real change by transforming policies in the countries where we deliver services. In countries like Nigeria, Afghanistan and Mali, this work can make a world of difference.
Northern Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be an expectant mother, yet the choice of whether or when to have a child is out of many women’s hands.
When Marie Stopes Nigeria first opened its clinic doors in 2009, we were the only provider of long-acting contraception in the country. Now, more than 10% of women in Nigeria are using a method of contraception they obtained through MSI—but that’s not all.
Thanks to the advocacy work of Marie Stopes Nigeria and partners, the government last month approved a new policy that will help address the acute shortage of doctors and nurses in the country. The policy allows trained community health workers, like Mare Stopes Ladies, to insert and remove long-acting methods. This prevents women in rural areas from having to walk miles to their nearest health center to access family planning.
This win means that more women than ever before will be able to choose from the most effective, long-acting methods of contraception.
MS Nigeria client Passipo, age 32, talks with an outreach worker about her new contraceptive implant
Young people in Mali will now have access to sexual and reproductive health resources in school
Marie Stopes Mali has always focused on meeting the specific sexual and reproductive health needs of young people—an especially critical approach in a country where one-third of adolescent girls will deliver their first child by their 20th birthday.
Our advocacy team played a crucial role in advancing that goal in 2016, when the government approved a pilot program to provide family planning services in high schools. This approach meets young people where they are, encouraging them to take control of their health and accomplish their dreams by staying in school.
Additionally, by integrating services into the public school system, family planning becomes normalized among young people, which is a key step toward changing behavior and attitudes.
In Afghanistan, our advocacy goes beyond influencing policy alone. We’re working to strengthen health systems and support the government in implementing and improving policies that increase access to reproductive care.
Starting in 2013, MSI Afghanistan (MSIA) led an initiative to provide implants in clinics and public hospitals to demonstrate the growing demand, effectiveness and safety for women in the country. After massive success, MSIA trained almost 400 doctors and midwives across the country in implant insertion and removal.
This win expanded contraceptive choice by making it easier and more culturally acceptable for women in Afghanistan to use the implant.
Dr. Anaita of MSI Afghanistan counsels a patient on the contraceptive implant at one of our centers
We have always pioneered an ‘advocacy by doing’ approach in our own unique way—showing what works, pushing for change and ensuring reforms are then implemented—and using our expertise so that women and girls are no longer denied the services they have a right to access.
But there is still more work to be done; 214 million women have an unmet need for contraception in developing regions across the globe.
That’s why, from increasing condom access in Mongolia to formulating new abortion care guidelines in Vietnam, our advocacy team is always working to ensure every woman can exercise her reproductive rights.