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

Feb 15 2017

The Contraception Atlas -- a map that scores 45 countries throughout geographical Europe on access to modern contraception was launched on St Valentine’s Day in Brussels.

The rankings -- which are based on access to contraceptive supplies, family planning counseling and online information -- reveal a very uneven picture across Europe.  

The European Parliamentary Forum on Population & Development (EPF) has produced the Atlas in partnership with Third-i, while experts in sexual and reproductive health and rights designed the methodology. 

“Access to contraception should be a key concern of governments in empowering citizens to plan their families and lives. Yet every country we analysed should be doing more to improve access. Our findings show that for many European countries, ensuring that people have choice over their reproductive lives is not a priority.” commented Neil Datta, EPF Secretary.

“This is borne out by statistics on unintended pregnancy: over 43% pregnancies in Europe are unintended. Contraception is used by 69.2% of European women aged between 15 and 49 who are married or living with a partner -- lower the usage rates of both the North America and Latin America/Caribbean regions.”

“For a relatively small cost, governments can provide reimbursement for contraception -- particularly long acting and reversible contraception, such as implants and IUDs. Official government websites with information about contraceptive types and where to get them are a miniscule expense for governments, but can make a big difference to citizens seeking accurate information.”

The findings and more information about contraception in Europe are available on

Feb 10 2017

ASTRA sent letter to the recently elected new Chair of the European Parliament Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committe (FEMM) - Ms Vilijia Blinkeviciute (S&D) from Lithuania. She will chair the FEMM Committee for the next two and a half years.

Four vice-chairs were also elected, together with the chair they will form the new FEMM bureau.The four vice-chairs elected are as follows:
- 1st vice-chair Barbara MATERA (EPP, IT)
- 2nd vice-chair João PIMENTA LOPES (GUE, PT)
- 3rd vice-chair Mary HONEYBALL (S&D, U.K)
- 4th vice-chair Jana ŽITŇANSKÁ (ECR, SK)

Read the letter ASTRA sent to Ms Blinkeviciute HERE.

Feb 01 2017

Attacks on women’s right to choose are regular and come from both the anti-choice civil society and the Government. In November 2016 Human Rights Committee recommended that Polish authorities should refrain from adopting any legislative reform that would amount to a retrogression of already restrictive legislation on women’s access to safe legal abortion. It is especially important in the light of the another petition for introducing a total ban on abortion which is pending in the parIiamentary Petition Committee right now. The women’s groups expected it to be rejected on 26th January 2017 beceause of its many imperfections. However, the Committee resolved the matter through issuing a formal request to the Prime Minister. Beata Szydło is expected to address the Petition Committee with information about the Government’s activity in the field of “life protection”. Based on this feedback the Committee will decide on the petition’s next steps.

Source: Federation for Women and Family Planning

Jan 31 2017

An investigation by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting recently discovered that hundreds of girls from the ethnic Avar community in eastern Georgia, in the villages of Tivi, Saruso, and Chantliskure, are being forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM). The shocking news was covered by national media and created a joint movement towards crimizalizing this practice although many people in the local communities believe it is connected to religion and part of local tradition.

On 24 January, the Georgian government approved the ratification of the Istanbul Convention on combatting domestic violence and violence against women, which includes criminalising FGM.
A similar act against a pregnant, disabled or underage woman will be considered an aggravating circumstance. Moreover, punishment will be tightened for stalking, forced sterilization and domestic violence.

Source: Georgia Today, IWPR

Jan 19 2017

A study commissioned by MEP Heidi Hautala, Perspectives on anti-choice lobbying in Europe, was published last week to reveal the networks and identify the actors who are part of the anti-choice movement that is active in the EU.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), women’s rights and gender equality play an enormous role in ensuring fair, prosperous and equal societies. Despite the clear progress towards enhancing women’s reproductive choices both in the developed and developing countries, at national, European and international levels, there are those who aim to move backwards.

Anti-choice forces have increased their efforts, among others in the European Parliament, to push their ideas further into the political mainstream, mobilising through social media campaigns and co-opted moderate political group members to their cause. The study is to call out these questionable tactics and those who apply them, in order to make the wider public aware of them. It is crucial for pro-choice forces across the political spectrum to mobilise together to defend the rights that have been fought hard to secure.

Access the Study for policy makers on opposition to sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe by Elena Zacharenko HERE.

Source: Heidi Hautala

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