Reproductive choices for women and girls in the Sahel

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Context

  • The Sahel region, home to approximately 70.8 million people, faces some of the starkest health and development challenges. Each woman has, on average, five children and in Mali and Niger, almost half of women have had their first child by the time they are 18. With nearly half the population under the age of 15, the need for sexual and reproductive health awareness and services is significant and growing. Only 20% of women of reproductive age use a modern contraceptive method, and 25% of all married women want to use contraception but are not able to.
  • Lack of access to reproductive health services has dire consequences. Women in the Sahel die from pregnancy related causes at some of the highest rates in the world. Limited access and availability of health services, traditional social and cultural norms, stigma and a lack of knowledge prevent millions of women and adolescents from getting the sexual and reproductive health services they want.
  • Countries in the Sahel have signed and ratified important human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Maputo Protocol, which specifically commits nations to authorize abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus. Implementation of these legally binding commitments are lagging and women and adolescent girls still lack improved access to safe abortion services in the Sahel region, with devastating effects.
  • Women and girls in the Sahel are among the worlds most disadvantaged in their lack of access to safe abortion. While solid data is difficult to obtain because abortion remains highly stigmatized, we know that approximately 1.8 million unsafe abortions are carried out every year in the Western Africa region, causing some 9,700 maternal deaths. Together, the countries of West Africa have among the highest unsafe abortion case fatality rates in the world, at 540 deaths per 100,000 unsafe abortions.
  • Adolescent girls and young women are most at risk as they face consequential social, economic, cultural and policy barriers to accessing reproductive health information and care.  Early pregnancy and adolescent motherhood are major problems that undermine the equal rights, health and economic status of girls and women across the Sahel.  Early pregnancy also means higher morbidity and mortality for both mother and child. Complications from pregnancy, childbirth and unsafe abortion are leading causes of death among adolescent girls in these countries. Adolescents (15–19 years) account for 25% of all unsafe abortions in Africa and 70% of women hospitalized from complications of unsafe abortion are under 20 years old.

 Goals

  • Give adolescents in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Senegal agency to access comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services on their own terms and according to their needs.
  • Provide contraceptive choice by making the full range of methods available, including implants and IUDs which are usually not otherwise available.
  • Provide life-saving care and services to prevent death and disability due to unsafe abortions and enable women and adolescent girls to realize their rights to sexual and reproductive health.
  • Empower women and adolescent girls to make informed decisions, without coercion, about when, if and how many children they want, thereby enabling them to own their future and improve their health and life prospects and contribute equally to family wellbeing and community progress.

 Activities

  • To provide a full range of contraceptive methods including short-term contraception (male and female condoms, oral contraceptive, progestin-only pill and injectables), long-acting reversible contraception (IUDs and implants), permanent contraception (tubal ligation for women and vasectomy for men) and emergency contraception.
  • To eradicate unsafe abortion and increase access to safe services in as many locations as possible. The services include: medication abortion, surgical abortion (performed by a doctor) and post-abortion care services where we offer immediate life-saving medical care for women suffering complications from an unsafe termination.
  • Three-pronged approach to increasing access to safe abortion, post-abortion care, and contraception including:
    • Increasing awareness of services and developing a referral network for safe abortion/post-abortion care and family planning;
    • Expanding the number of safe points of access for women and adolescent girls to receive safe products and services without judgement;
    • Scaling with integrity to ensure increased access to quality services.

Key Performance Indicators to be reached

  • Number of contraception and safe abortion/post abortion care services delivered to adolescents 15-19 in the four countries: Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Senegal
  • Number of unsafe abortions and maternal deaths averted
  • Number and percentage of clients who are high-impact clients, a group that includes adolescents, people who had no other way of accessing services, people living in poverty, and people who use contraception for the first time.

 KBF CANADA is working with MSI on this project. MSI was founded in 1973 and is one of the largest non-profit voluntary family planning and safe abortion organizations in the world, currently working in 37 countries across six continents with the help of more than 11,000 team members. MSI is committed to upholding the fundamental right of women and girls and men and boys to decide freely, and without coercion, the number and spacing of their children. They provide safe abortion services within the fullest extent of local legal frameworks. They provide post-abortion care, to make sure immediate life-saving medical care is available to women suffering complications from unsafe abortion. By providing safe abortion and post-abortion care, they eliminate deaths from unsafe abortion and ensure women are able to have children by choice, not chance. MSI began working in the Sahel in 2008 and currently delivers services through 9 centres, 33 outreach teams, 100 MS Ladies, over 400 social franchises, 80 public sector facilities and growing social marketing distribution networks. In 2018, more than 1.1 million women and girls in the Sahel were using a family planning method provided by MSI. These services averted an estimated 1,800 maternal deaths, 241,000 unsafe abortions and 353,000 unintended pregnancies, saving an estimated $23.5 million in direct healthcare costs.

How to support this project?

By credit card: At the top right of this page, indicate the amount you wish to donate, and make the donation online by credit card. You will receive a receipt for tax purposes by e-mail just a few minutes after making the donation. Simple and fast!

By cheque: Mail the cheque to the KBF CANADA Foundation, mention ‘Project D303 – Reproductive choices in the Sahel’ in the ‘For’ section and send it to: KBF Foundation CANADA, 1 Place Ville Marie, Suite 1670, MONTREAL, QC, H3B 2B6  – CANADA.

By Direct Deposit: Send an email to the KBF CANADA Foundation [email protected] or call +1 514.481.2000.

All donations are eligible for a tax receipt in Canada.

The projects are managed with the greatest care and professionalism.