ASTRA Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health

Aug 18 2017

Fifty experts from 20 countries in Africa, the Americas and Europe, gathered at the first international convening on conscientious objection to abortion have concluded that the refusal to provide legal abortion services is hurting women all over the world and must be tackled.

The meeting, co-hosted by Mujer y Salud en Uruguay (MYSU) and the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), featured policymakers, academics, health professionals, legal experts, and feminist activists who collectively established that objecting to the provision of voluntary abortion services on religious or moral grounds, is a chief barrier to safe abortion and endangers the lives of women.

The group highlighted that conscientious objection in relation to health services is not supported by international human rights frameworks. The practice, sometimes allowed by national law, increasingly stigmatizes a fundamental health service and pushes women to carry a risky or unintended pregnancy to term. Women denied access to abortion are also forced to seek illegal or unsafe means to abort with dire consequences, including death.

Participants agreed to individually further legal, ethical, health, and policy objectives that can mitigate the damaging effects of conscientious objection and reduce the immense burden on women who seek a legal, professional service that must be rendered without prejudice.

Research to understand the motives and  measure the impact of conscientious objection on women’s quality of life and on health systems more broadly—including financial costs—was also considered a priority.

The group emphasized that doctors and health workers who support the rights of women have a significant role to play in ensuring best medical practices. Health workers also face the challenge of ensuring that professional bodies recognize that personal beliefs can seriously undermine the provision of women-centered, professional health services.

Source: International Women’s Health Coalition 

Aug 16 2017

On 27 July, the newly elected President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) – Maria Chatardová, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the UN – set support for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda as a priority for 2018. “I wish to announce that the key priority of my Presidency will be to develop initiatives towards fostering sustainable, resilient and inclusive societies through participation of all” Chatardová said. Moreover, she informed that ECOSOC’s 2018 theme “From global to local: supporting sustainable and resilient societies in urban and rural communities” will be aligned with the 2018 focus of the High-Level Political Forum: “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”. She also praised a high interest of the Members States to participate in the National Voluntary Reviews and pointed out that the Council must do more to ensure the participation of civil society and assure clear commitments from private sector in order to reach the SDGs.

The Council also elected three Vice-Presidents: Mahmadamin Mahmadaminov (Tajikistan) from the Asia-Pacific States, Inga Rhonda King (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) from the Latin American and Caribbean States, and Marc Pecsteen De Buytswerve (Belgium) from the Western European and other States.

Finally, the Council adopted its provisional agenda and working arrangements.  The next ECOSOC Special Meeting at the United Nations Headquarters will take place in May 2018 and will explore further collective action on inclusion and participation for sustainable development.

Source: EuroNGOs

Aug 07 2017

Mobilisations throughout Europe around September 28, 2017

In solidarity with all European women, after the exemplary struggle of Spanish women in 2014 and Polish women in 2016, we demand that women’s rights, the right to control their own bodies, the right to abortion and to health are respected in all European countries and recognized as fundamental rights for equality in Europe.

Today, the right to abortion within Europe is within the sphere of competence of each national government. Illegal in Malta, extremely limited in Ireland, in Hungary and Poland. the right to abortion, even when it is legal, can be put into question by the conscience clause for doctors (Italy), the absence of the necessary hospital facilities (Greece, Bavaria), the cuts in staff and the closing of centres practicing abortion during hospital reorganizations (France), and, in all countries, the election of reaction, conservative and backward governments.

We reaffirm that :

  • The access to abortion is a right;
  • Abortion is a personal choice – my body is mine, I choose my life
  • Financial resources must be allocated so that the centres carrying out abortion and family planning centres are accessible everywhere;
  • Information campaigns addressed to all audiences are necessary;
  • Sex education should be given to all so that both women and men can make clear and informed choices;
  • Training in abortion procedures and accompaniment should be an integral part of the basic training of health professionals;
  • The conscience clause for health professionals should be eliminated;
  • The legal time limits for abortion should be brought into line with the mot progressive in Europe and states must decriminalize abortion completely.

We call for the organization of a European mobilization around the 28th of September 2017, international day for the right to safe and legal abortion in which each country will put forward its demands in the perspective of a European harmonization of respect for women’s rights.


Jul 24 2017

The UN has come forward with a first ever UN Joint inter-agency statement calling for an end to discrimination in health care.  It calls for, amongst other things, repealing discriminatory laws and practices, including laws that criminalize sex work, drug use and SRH services and information. This statement is part of UNAIDS’ agenda on zero discrimination in health care (link to agenda).

Jul 13 2017

The 2017 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (2017 HLPF) officially began on 10 July at the UN Headquarters in New York. It is the main UN platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda. In the opening speech, Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, stressed that “Gender inequality continues to persist worldwide, depriving women and girls of their basic rights and opportunities” and pointed out that “To ensure that sustainable development is realized by all people and for all people everywhere, a revitalized and enhanced global partnership that brings together all stakeholders and mobilizes all available resources is needed”. 


Page 7 of 96