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Youth volunteers

In pictures: The Benin community working together to tackle abortion stigma

Geneviève Head of Youth and Stigma project and fundraising at the Association Beninoise pour la promotion de la famille (ABPF) Since joining ABPF in 1995, Geneviève has worked closely with community leaders to reduce stigma around abortion. Talking about the importance of young women having choice and access to abortion care, Geneviève says, “the law only applies in three circumstances, meanwhile everyday people need to access these services. Reproductive rights do exist, but that is something many people choose to ignore.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Hélène ABPF youth champion with the Young People’s Action Movement  27-year-old Hélène acts as a link between young people’s activities and the ABPF board. She has advocated for abortion rights at conferences locally and internationally.  “In my school there were a fair number of pregnant girls so I was already looking for a way to help. Every week I went to different classes to educate them about abortion and stigma. When my mother found out, she told me this was a movement of depravity! But after a while my mum became a member of the association and came with me, and even my dad. Now they say they are proud of what I’ve achieved.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Simon Gnansounou Community leader In the small town of Cocotomey-La Paix, Simon works closely with ABPF supporting their work to reduce abortion stigma within local communities. “It’s a project for social development, and I am all for that. It’s going to limit harm done to these girls. Parents don’t talk about this with their children. It’s taboo. This project helps us negotiate this difficult parent-child question. There is no development without health, and the politics of health are very complex.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Kader Youth champion 26-year-old Kader says his first youth meeting at ABPF was a positive experience. “They told me that there was a jam session at the event. What I liked is that it was run by young people. Everything that I know about reproductive health I learnt at the centre. A lot of young women I know got pregnant very early. I know people who have died because of unsafe abortion. We can avoid so much of it if people have the right information.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Souliya Mevo Tairou Midwife “Stigmatization complicates our work. Fourteen and 15-year olds come here without their parents and it’s hard to work with them. The girls are so scared that they can’t really explain what’s happening to them. They come here after going to the traditional healers when that hasn’t worked and they are bleeding or have an infection. Here, with the Youth and Abortion Stigma Project, we have awareness sessions. The young people and those supervising give out their numbers and tell them to call if they have a problem.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Amour University student “Her friends told her to take laxatives and other products, to put things in her vagina, to wash with hot water, to move about a lot.” 21-year-old Amour talks about a friend who confided in him when she discovered she was pregnant. “When we talk about abortion in Benin, it’s something people don’t want to hear about. It’s not well seen. Talking about sex is a problem. It’s still taboo. Thanks to the Youth and Abortion Stigma Project, I had benefited from training on how to talk to girls if they came to ask about abortion.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Flore Literature teacher Flore says some of her students go to her for support and advice: “They are quite shy because at home the subject of sex is always taboo. They are reticent; they think it’s a shame. We will only correct this problem over time. There is chatting and whispering in class ‘you know what she did?’ Can’t we support these children instead of stigmatizing them?” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Ida University student 19-year-old Ida attended a workshop on abortion and stigma for teachers and students at the Fiyegnon collège d’enseignement général. “It really helped. If we take our own decisions we will make it to the end, we will get what is right for us.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

Community leader
16 October 2018

Abortion stigma: From judge to advocate

When Beninese community leader Simon Gnansounou was first approached by volunteers from the Association Beninoise pour la Promotion de la Famille (ABPF) seeking support to provide abortion-related information and care in the town of Cocotomey-La Paix, he was sceptical. “I thought that it was to organize depravity,” the gregarious economist said at his small home office, surrounded by textbooks. “I was a bit suspicious at first!” Gnansounou, a highly respected figure in this close-knit neighbourhood, changed his mind after persistent attempts by young volunteers to reassure him they wanted to stop young girls from risking injury and death due to unsafe abortion. “The first goal is actually to help the young girls not to get pregnant,” he added. “It’s a project for social development, and I am all for that.” Men like Gnansounou are vital in ABPF’s work to fight abortion stigma in Benin, where 19 percent of births are unplanned and the rate of contraceptive use is around 9 percent of the population, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Stigma stops young women from seeking safe abortions and pushes them into the hands of unregulated witchdoctors or advice from friends without medical training. But support from partners, fathers and brothers is making a huge difference, even if they are nervous about discussing sexuality, which remains a taboo subject in Beninese families. “I have four daughters. I have never had the courage to talk about this with them,” Gnansounou said, shaking his head. “This is another chance, a chance that we cannot miss.” Student for change Amour, 21, is a student at the University of Abomey-Calavi and a self-declared former “player”. “I started having sex really young. When I was around 12,” he said. “My parents left me to work things out for myself. I had a lot of partners and we didn’t use condoms. I had no idea about that,” Amour adds. After joining the Young People’s Action Movement, which advocates for reproductive rights among people aged 10-25, Amour decided to abstain for sex for two years as he absorbed material about abortion, stigma and contraception on campus. When a friend confided that she was pregnant after he noticed her vomiting - the first signs of morning sickness - Amour offered his support. “Her friends told her to take laxatives and other products, to put things in her vagina, to wash with hot water, to move about a lot,” Amour said, shaking his head. “Thanks to the Youth and Abortion Stigma Project, I had benefited from training on how to talk to girls if they came to ask about abortion.” The student tried to act as a mediator with her family when she struck up the courage to tell her parents. “Her mum hit her when she told her she was pregnant,” he recalled. “She accused me of giving her bad advice.” Amour says he uses condoms with his own partner and feels freer to discuss sexuality than when he was younger. “When we talk about abortion in Africa, and especially in Benin, it’s something people don’t want to hear about. It’s not well seen,” he admits. That hasn’t stopped him from joining community outreach sessions in and around the capital, Cotonou, where he educates school children and young apprentices on their right to choose. Promoting choice For Kader, a 26-year-old ABPF youth champion, the effects of unsafe abortion and struggles with unintended pregnancy were “part of everyday life” in his neighbourhood. “A lot of young women I know got pregnant very early,” says Kader, who acts as a link between young people in schools and workplaces and the Association Beninoise pour la Promotion de la Famille (ABPF), in Cotonou. “I know people who have died because of unsafe abortion,” he adds, speaking at ABPF’s centre dedicated to young people, while organising a Twitter discussion focused on stigmatization. Before joining ABPF’s youth movement in 2011, he admits, he was quick to judge classmates and girls he knew who got pregnant early. Spending the greater part of his twenties learning of the effects of marginalizing young women in this way left him feeling a little ashamed. “The people I judged in the past made me think about my own behaviour, especially towards one female friend,” Kader explains, as volunteers began drifting in to the courtyard. When his aunt had an abortion, it quickly became public knowledge in the neighbourhood, and he remembers how she was treated. “She had a lot of problems. Everyone taunted her”. The day after a Twitter session at a school event, Kader gently argues with a teacher who says girls at his school are getting pregnant deliberately, so they can bunk off. Kader asks the group to think about decision making and family support, and how they might act differently if they had full ownership of their choices. “We can avoid so much of it if people have the right information.” Kader adds.  

Régina, 22, youth volunteer
16 October 2018

Breaking the silence with a whisper

Many women and girls in Benin who are considering an abortion tell no one. Since 2014, the Association Beninoise pour la Promotion de la Famille (ABPF) has been running a project, supported by the Packard Foundation, specifically aimed at tackling abortion stigma so that women and girls seeking a safe abortion can access the right information and services.   Some young women are making their own decision to end an unintended pregnancy safely at ABPF clinics and telling friends that help without judgement is available.   Choosing education   When 22-year-old economics student, Floriane*, missed a period and discovered she was pregnant, she says, “I couldn’t believe it; I was two months pregnant.” Floriane says she wasn’t ready to get pregnant and decided to have an abortion. She wanted to continue with her education and graduate.   At her follow-up appointment two months after the abortion, Floriane received a full health check and contraceptive advice. Floriane had heard about the ABPF clinic at an event on her campus in 2016 and joined the Young People’s Action Movement. “The other friends I have in the movement knew [about my abortion],” along with her boyfriend, she said. But her parents could not know what had happened. “I can’t talk about that with them,” she says. “They wouldn’t have taken that well. My dad had paid for my studies.”  Facing choices alone   Marielle, 27, only told her immediate family about her abortion, which she opted for after recent surgery left her feeling unable to carry a pregnancy to term.  “My extended family would not have agreed with it though,” she explains, “and neither would anyone at work. The judgement is very hurtful, and they won’t necessarily say it to your face, but Benin society is very tradition-bound,” the hospitality worker adds.   Since her abortion at the ABPF clinic, Marielle has acted as a confidante for a friend whose own family would be less than supportive of an abortion. “I’ve already told her about the services they offer here. Public hospitals don’t listen to you; they just judge you,” she said. Marielle says that she knows women from all sectors of society who have been attacked and criticized for having an abortion, a phenomenon she says is immune to social status. “No one is spared. It doesn’t matter how rich you are,” she notes.   Pregnancy outside of marriage in Benin is usually seen as incompatible with education, even though many young people remain at school well into their twenties.  Joceline* did not tell her father about her abortion. Her father supports her financially and she feared his response to her being pregnant and unmarried. “Then there is the neighbourhood, what would everyone else say if they knew I had an abortion?” she added, looking at the floor.   “I came here alone,” said Joceline, referring to the day she visited the ABPF youth clinic in Cotonou to end an unwanted pregnancy. “I preferred to come by myself so I wouldn’t expose myself to problems,” the 20-year-old apprentice tailor said. “The father couldn’t support the baby but he did ask a friend who knew about this place. That friend helped us.”   Fear of stigmatization pushes many young women to seek abortions with unsafe providers in Benin, including local witchdoctors, or to attempt to get end a pregnancy themselves. “Before, I was thinking about taking insecticide to get rid of the pregnancy,” Joceline says frankly.   Those who attend the ABPF youth group sessions say their experiences with the young volunteers have given them the confidence to open up about their abortion, and to not feel ashamed about their choice.   Tackling stigma and tradition   Stigmatization for social and religious reasons makes the work of medical professionals much more difficult, explains Souliya Mevo Tairou, a midwife at a youth-only ABPF clinic in Cotonou.   “Stigmatization complicates our work. Fourteen and 15-year-olds come here without their parents and it’s hard to work with them. The girls are so scared that they can’t really explain what’s happening to them,” she says. “They come here after going to the traditional healers when that hasn’t worked, and they are bleeding or have an infection.”   Unsafe abortions account for 15 percent of maternal deaths in Benin, according to hospital statistics.   The antidote, says Mevo Tairo, is the Young People’s Action Movement. “Here, with the Youth and Abortion Stigma Project, we have awareness sessions. The young people and those supervising give out their numbers and tell them to call if they have a problem. When one comes and is satisfied… they tell the others,” she adds. That creates whisper networks to carry the right information to women and girls in need.     *Names have been changed

Packard funding project in Benin
05 May 2016

IPPF funds youth-led projects to tackle abortion stigma

As part of our work in tackling abortion stigma, IPPF awards small grants to young people to create projects that would tackle the issue of abortion stigma in their communities. In 2015, small grants were awarded to promising projects submitted by young people in Ghana, Palestine, Spain, Macedonia and Nepal. In 2017, a further six grants were awarded to young people in Guinea, Kenya, Nepal, Puerto Rico, Sierra Leone and Venezuela. In 2019 five more grants were awarded to youth-led projects in Albania, Colombia, Nigeria, Spain and Tanzania. These documents give more information about what these projects set out to do, their methods and the results.

Association Béninoise pour la Promotion de la Famille

The Association Béninoise pour la Promotion de la Famille (ABPF) has been operating for almost 40 years. ABPF offers family planning, ante-natal and post-abortion care, infertility treatment, screening of cancers of the reproductive system, and management of sexually transmitted infections (including HIV and AIDS). Its service points include permanent and mobile clinics.

ABPF is focused on reaching marginalized groups such as prisoners, sex workers, refugees and internally displaced persons. The majority of clients are estimated to be poor, marginalized, socially excluded and/or under-served.

To reduce the national maternal mortality rate, ABPF operates an effective community-based obstetric and antenatal care service in 16 villages, using traditional birth attendants and volunteer health workers. ABPF also runs a locally-based service for young people which involves hundreds of community-based distributors (CBDs) and peer educators providing young people with sexual and reproductive health information, condoms and counselling services.

In acknowledgment of ABPF’s expertise and accomplishments, the Government of Benin invited the organization to become a member of the technical committee (in the Ministry of Planning) that drafts reproductive health policies: the Population Policy, the Family Health Policy, HIV and AIDS policies and the National Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy.

Whilst ABPF has recorded major advances in sexual and reproductive health, there are still very significant challenges as the figures for lifetime risk of maternal death, child mortality rate and unmet need for contraception of illustrate.

Driving the work of ABPF is a large and dedicated team of hundreds of volunteers. There’s a Youth Action Movement which draws on the skills of young people. ABPF works in partnership with a range of government organisations, including parliament, the Ministère de la Famille, the Ministère de la Jeunesse, and the Ministère du Plan. Funders include USAID. Non-goverrnmental organizations working with ABPF include the Country Co-ordinating Mechanism for health and sexual and reproductive health.   

Youth volunteers

In pictures: The Benin community working together to tackle abortion stigma

Geneviève Head of Youth and Stigma project and fundraising at the Association Beninoise pour la promotion de la famille (ABPF) Since joining ABPF in 1995, Geneviève has worked closely with community leaders to reduce stigma around abortion. Talking about the importance of young women having choice and access to abortion care, Geneviève says, “the law only applies in three circumstances, meanwhile everyday people need to access these services. Reproductive rights do exist, but that is something many people choose to ignore.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Hélène ABPF youth champion with the Young People’s Action Movement  27-year-old Hélène acts as a link between young people’s activities and the ABPF board. She has advocated for abortion rights at conferences locally and internationally.  “In my school there were a fair number of pregnant girls so I was already looking for a way to help. Every week I went to different classes to educate them about abortion and stigma. When my mother found out, she told me this was a movement of depravity! But after a while my mum became a member of the association and came with me, and even my dad. Now they say they are proud of what I’ve achieved.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Simon Gnansounou Community leader In the small town of Cocotomey-La Paix, Simon works closely with ABPF supporting their work to reduce abortion stigma within local communities. “It’s a project for social development, and I am all for that. It’s going to limit harm done to these girls. Parents don’t talk about this with their children. It’s taboo. This project helps us negotiate this difficult parent-child question. There is no development without health, and the politics of health are very complex.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Kader Youth champion 26-year-old Kader says his first youth meeting at ABPF was a positive experience. “They told me that there was a jam session at the event. What I liked is that it was run by young people. Everything that I know about reproductive health I learnt at the centre. A lot of young women I know got pregnant very early. I know people who have died because of unsafe abortion. We can avoid so much of it if people have the right information.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Souliya Mevo Tairou Midwife “Stigmatization complicates our work. Fourteen and 15-year olds come here without their parents and it’s hard to work with them. The girls are so scared that they can’t really explain what’s happening to them. They come here after going to the traditional healers when that hasn’t worked and they are bleeding or have an infection. Here, with the Youth and Abortion Stigma Project, we have awareness sessions. The young people and those supervising give out their numbers and tell them to call if they have a problem.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Amour University student “Her friends told her to take laxatives and other products, to put things in her vagina, to wash with hot water, to move about a lot.” 21-year-old Amour talks about a friend who confided in him when she discovered she was pregnant. “When we talk about abortion in Benin, it’s something people don’t want to hear about. It’s not well seen. Talking about sex is a problem. It’s still taboo. Thanks to the Youth and Abortion Stigma Project, I had benefited from training on how to talk to girls if they came to ask about abortion.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Flore Literature teacher Flore says some of her students go to her for support and advice: “They are quite shy because at home the subject of sex is always taboo. They are reticent; they think it’s a shame. We will only correct this problem over time. There is chatting and whispering in class ‘you know what she did?’ Can’t we support these children instead of stigmatizing them?” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Ida University student 19-year-old Ida attended a workshop on abortion and stigma for teachers and students at the Fiyegnon collège d’enseignement général. “It really helped. If we take our own decisions we will make it to the end, we will get what is right for us.” Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

Community leader
16 October 2018

Abortion stigma: From judge to advocate

When Beninese community leader Simon Gnansounou was first approached by volunteers from the Association Beninoise pour la Promotion de la Famille (ABPF) seeking support to provide abortion-related information and care in the town of Cocotomey-La Paix, he was sceptical. “I thought that it was to organize depravity,” the gregarious economist said at his small home office, surrounded by textbooks. “I was a bit suspicious at first!” Gnansounou, a highly respected figure in this close-knit neighbourhood, changed his mind after persistent attempts by young volunteers to reassure him they wanted to stop young girls from risking injury and death due to unsafe abortion. “The first goal is actually to help the young girls not to get pregnant,” he added. “It’s a project for social development, and I am all for that.” Men like Gnansounou are vital in ABPF’s work to fight abortion stigma in Benin, where 19 percent of births are unplanned and the rate of contraceptive use is around 9 percent of the population, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Stigma stops young women from seeking safe abortions and pushes them into the hands of unregulated witchdoctors or advice from friends without medical training. But support from partners, fathers and brothers is making a huge difference, even if they are nervous about discussing sexuality, which remains a taboo subject in Beninese families. “I have four daughters. I have never had the courage to talk about this with them,” Gnansounou said, shaking his head. “This is another chance, a chance that we cannot miss.” Student for change Amour, 21, is a student at the University of Abomey-Calavi and a self-declared former “player”. “I started having sex really young. When I was around 12,” he said. “My parents left me to work things out for myself. I had a lot of partners and we didn’t use condoms. I had no idea about that,” Amour adds. After joining the Young People’s Action Movement, which advocates for reproductive rights among people aged 10-25, Amour decided to abstain for sex for two years as he absorbed material about abortion, stigma and contraception on campus. When a friend confided that she was pregnant after he noticed her vomiting - the first signs of morning sickness - Amour offered his support. “Her friends told her to take laxatives and other products, to put things in her vagina, to wash with hot water, to move about a lot,” Amour said, shaking his head. “Thanks to the Youth and Abortion Stigma Project, I had benefited from training on how to talk to girls if they came to ask about abortion.” The student tried to act as a mediator with her family when she struck up the courage to tell her parents. “Her mum hit her when she told her she was pregnant,” he recalled. “She accused me of giving her bad advice.” Amour says he uses condoms with his own partner and feels freer to discuss sexuality than when he was younger. “When we talk about abortion in Africa, and especially in Benin, it’s something people don’t want to hear about. It’s not well seen,” he admits. That hasn’t stopped him from joining community outreach sessions in and around the capital, Cotonou, where he educates school children and young apprentices on their right to choose. Promoting choice For Kader, a 26-year-old ABPF youth champion, the effects of unsafe abortion and struggles with unintended pregnancy were “part of everyday life” in his neighbourhood. “A lot of young women I know got pregnant very early,” says Kader, who acts as a link between young people in schools and workplaces and the Association Beninoise pour la Promotion de la Famille (ABPF), in Cotonou. “I know people who have died because of unsafe abortion,” he adds, speaking at ABPF’s centre dedicated to young people, while organising a Twitter discussion focused on stigmatization. Before joining ABPF’s youth movement in 2011, he admits, he was quick to judge classmates and girls he knew who got pregnant early. Spending the greater part of his twenties learning of the effects of marginalizing young women in this way left him feeling a little ashamed. “The people I judged in the past made me think about my own behaviour, especially towards one female friend,” Kader explains, as volunteers began drifting in to the courtyard. When his aunt had an abortion, it quickly became public knowledge in the neighbourhood, and he remembers how she was treated. “She had a lot of problems. Everyone taunted her”. The day after a Twitter session at a school event, Kader gently argues with a teacher who says girls at his school are getting pregnant deliberately, so they can bunk off. Kader asks the group to think about decision making and family support, and how they might act differently if they had full ownership of their choices. “We can avoid so much of it if people have the right information.” Kader adds.  

Régina, 22, youth volunteer
16 October 2018

Breaking the silence with a whisper

Many women and girls in Benin who are considering an abortion tell no one. Since 2014, the Association Beninoise pour la Promotion de la Famille (ABPF) has been running a project, supported by the Packard Foundation, specifically aimed at tackling abortion stigma so that women and girls seeking a safe abortion can access the right information and services.   Some young women are making their own decision to end an unintended pregnancy safely at ABPF clinics and telling friends that help without judgement is available.   Choosing education   When 22-year-old economics student, Floriane*, missed a period and discovered she was pregnant, she says, “I couldn’t believe it; I was two months pregnant.” Floriane says she wasn’t ready to get pregnant and decided to have an abortion. She wanted to continue with her education and graduate.   At her follow-up appointment two months after the abortion, Floriane received a full health check and contraceptive advice. Floriane had heard about the ABPF clinic at an event on her campus in 2016 and joined the Young People’s Action Movement. “The other friends I have in the movement knew [about my abortion],” along with her boyfriend, she said. But her parents could not know what had happened. “I can’t talk about that with them,” she says. “They wouldn’t have taken that well. My dad had paid for my studies.”  Facing choices alone   Marielle, 27, only told her immediate family about her abortion, which she opted for after recent surgery left her feeling unable to carry a pregnancy to term.  “My extended family would not have agreed with it though,” she explains, “and neither would anyone at work. The judgement is very hurtful, and they won’t necessarily say it to your face, but Benin society is very tradition-bound,” the hospitality worker adds.   Since her abortion at the ABPF clinic, Marielle has acted as a confidante for a friend whose own family would be less than supportive of an abortion. “I’ve already told her about the services they offer here. Public hospitals don’t listen to you; they just judge you,” she said. Marielle says that she knows women from all sectors of society who have been attacked and criticized for having an abortion, a phenomenon she says is immune to social status. “No one is spared. It doesn’t matter how rich you are,” she notes.   Pregnancy outside of marriage in Benin is usually seen as incompatible with education, even though many young people remain at school well into their twenties.  Joceline* did not tell her father about her abortion. Her father supports her financially and she feared his response to her being pregnant and unmarried. “Then there is the neighbourhood, what would everyone else say if they knew I had an abortion?” she added, looking at the floor.   “I came here alone,” said Joceline, referring to the day she visited the ABPF youth clinic in Cotonou to end an unwanted pregnancy. “I preferred to come by myself so I wouldn’t expose myself to problems,” the 20-year-old apprentice tailor said. “The father couldn’t support the baby but he did ask a friend who knew about this place. That friend helped us.”   Fear of stigmatization pushes many young women to seek abortions with unsafe providers in Benin, including local witchdoctors, or to attempt to get end a pregnancy themselves. “Before, I was thinking about taking insecticide to get rid of the pregnancy,” Joceline says frankly.   Those who attend the ABPF youth group sessions say their experiences with the young volunteers have given them the confidence to open up about their abortion, and to not feel ashamed about their choice.   Tackling stigma and tradition   Stigmatization for social and religious reasons makes the work of medical professionals much more difficult, explains Souliya Mevo Tairou, a midwife at a youth-only ABPF clinic in Cotonou.   “Stigmatization complicates our work. Fourteen and 15-year-olds come here without their parents and it’s hard to work with them. The girls are so scared that they can’t really explain what’s happening to them,” she says. “They come here after going to the traditional healers when that hasn’t worked, and they are bleeding or have an infection.”   Unsafe abortions account for 15 percent of maternal deaths in Benin, according to hospital statistics.   The antidote, says Mevo Tairo, is the Young People’s Action Movement. “Here, with the Youth and Abortion Stigma Project, we have awareness sessions. The young people and those supervising give out their numbers and tell them to call if they have a problem. When one comes and is satisfied… they tell the others,” she adds. That creates whisper networks to carry the right information to women and girls in need.     *Names have been changed

Packard funding project in Benin
05 May 2016

IPPF funds youth-led projects to tackle abortion stigma

As part of our work in tackling abortion stigma, IPPF awards small grants to young people to create projects that would tackle the issue of abortion stigma in their communities. In 2015, small grants were awarded to promising projects submitted by young people in Ghana, Palestine, Spain, Macedonia and Nepal. In 2017, a further six grants were awarded to young people in Guinea, Kenya, Nepal, Puerto Rico, Sierra Leone and Venezuela. In 2019 five more grants were awarded to youth-led projects in Albania, Colombia, Nigeria, Spain and Tanzania. These documents give more information about what these projects set out to do, their methods and the results.

Association Béninoise pour la Promotion de la Famille

The Association Béninoise pour la Promotion de la Famille (ABPF) has been operating for almost 40 years. ABPF offers family planning, ante-natal and post-abortion care, infertility treatment, screening of cancers of the reproductive system, and management of sexually transmitted infections (including HIV and AIDS). Its service points include permanent and mobile clinics.

ABPF is focused on reaching marginalized groups such as prisoners, sex workers, refugees and internally displaced persons. The majority of clients are estimated to be poor, marginalized, socially excluded and/or under-served.

To reduce the national maternal mortality rate, ABPF operates an effective community-based obstetric and antenatal care service in 16 villages, using traditional birth attendants and volunteer health workers. ABPF also runs a locally-based service for young people which involves hundreds of community-based distributors (CBDs) and peer educators providing young people with sexual and reproductive health information, condoms and counselling services.

In acknowledgment of ABPF’s expertise and accomplishments, the Government of Benin invited the organization to become a member of the technical committee (in the Ministry of Planning) that drafts reproductive health policies: the Population Policy, the Family Health Policy, HIV and AIDS policies and the National Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy.

Whilst ABPF has recorded major advances in sexual and reproductive health, there are still very significant challenges as the figures for lifetime risk of maternal death, child mortality rate and unmet need for contraception of illustrate.

Driving the work of ABPF is a large and dedicated team of hundreds of volunteers. There’s a Youth Action Movement which draws on the skills of young people. ABPF works in partnership with a range of government organisations, including parliament, the Ministère de la Famille, the Ministère de la Jeunesse, and the Ministère du Plan. Funders include USAID. Non-goverrnmental organizations working with ABPF include the Country Co-ordinating Mechanism for health and sexual and reproductive health.