EngenderHealth will work with a volunteer network of young and feminist professionals committed to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) to design and implement a digital-based awareness, advocacy, and communication campaign to nurture gender-sensitive, youth-friendly, and inclusive safe abortion care behavior among health professionals. It will also engage selected professional associations, medical institutions, and SRHR advocates, and engage youth-led and women-led groups/civil society organizations (CSOs) and SRH organizations to proactively respond to misinformation and other anti-choice actions.
Bodily autonomy and a right to safe and accessible health care are integral to justice and equity. Those most effected by the anti-abortion movement in Ethiopia are the most vulnerable in society, and therefore, maintaining and working towards destigmatized, safe, and accessible reproductive health care is critical. Through this project EngenderHealth will adapt and apply strategies and tools from other programs, build its own capacity for countering opposition to abortion and beyond, and provide lessons and inspiration to others who are working toward just and equitable societies.
Despite positive trends in RH outcomes across Ethiopia, unsafe abortions remain a reality, particularly among rural women, poor urban women, and young women and adolescent girls. In this latter group, data from 2014 estimated that one-third of abortions were clandestine. The legal framework for abortion leaves room for professionals’ individual interpretation and discretion concerning whether criteria for abortion are met or not. Two recent studies on health professionals’ attitudes towards abortion describes their struggle to balance religiously- and morally-based opposition to abortion against their professional duty to provide abortions and their concern for the women, and a national survey of physicians working in Ethiopian public hospitals showed that the respondents often experienced dilemmas related to reproductive health issues. Ongoing anti-choice groups’ campaigns also target health professional schools, Ethiopian health journals, and media and churches. Such campaigns, in most cases, are led by religious-affiliated medical professionals.