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

Jul 10 2017

YouAct, in partnership with ASTRA Youth, PETRI-Sofia, Y-PEER, and YSAFE launched a project in 2016 aiming to develop a strategy on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), by youth, for youth. Their initiative was supported by Council of Europe’s European Youth Foundation (EYF), UNFPA Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Office (UNFPA EECARO) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN).

The project’s overall aim was to develop a Joint Youth Strategy based on the input, experience, needs and ideas of young people in Council of Europe and Central Asia countries, which will serve as an advocacy and awareness raising tool on SRHR of young people on the national, regional, and international level.

As a product of this, the group is happy to officially launch the “Youth in Power” Strategy which you can find HERE.

Young people expressed their perspectives on the current gaps, challenges, and recommendations regarding the realization of SRHR for young people in the region through an online questionnaire filled out by over 1000 young people from all over Europe and Central Asia. Young representatives from over 15 countries gathered in Kiev, Ukraine in December 2016 to analyze the collected results and to develop a strategy based on the results obtained.

Are you interested in learning more about the strategy and exploring ways you can engage? Attend the webinar on July 24th were we will present the results of the project and discuss how it could be used as an advocacy tool! If you would like to receive more information feel free to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Stay updated on our future work by following the group on Facebook

Jun 29 2017

Women’s rights are facing an alarming backlash in many parts of the world, and it is critically important to press on with further setting of standards on gender equality, a group of UN independent experts* has warned.

“The world is at a crossroads, with the very concept of gender equality being increasingly contested in some quarters,” said the experts.

“We feel it is time to reiterate the backlash against the progress which has been made in promoting and protecting women’s human rights. The polarization in the battle for rights is being demonstrated increasingly, and regressive positions have become a serious threat to the human rights legal framework.

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Jun 28 2017

The United Nations Human Rights Council held its thirty-fifth regular session from 6 to 23 June 2017 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. During the three-week session, the Council heard the presentation of more than 80 thematic and country reports by more than 30 human rights experts and investigative bodies on a wide range of issues. It also held two panel discussions, its annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women, and its annual half-day thematic discussion on technical cooperation. UN Member States debated and passed resolutions on cross-cutting human rights issues and human rights situations in particular countries.

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Jun 27 2017

On June 23rd the Polish President Andrzej Duda approved legislation that will end prescription-free access to emergency contraception. The new law comes into effect next month and will requite women wishing to obtain a prescription for the morning after pill to visit a doctor, either at a public or private facility.

On May 25th the Polish Government voted in favour of limiting access to emergency contraception as a result of the proposal put forward by the ruling Law and Justice party in February this year. According to the Health Minister, Mr. Konstanty Radziwill, hormonal means of emergency contraception were being abused, especially by teenage girls, and had harmful health effects. By being forced to see a doctor, he said women will now “get advice on whether these substances negatively affect their health”. Despite numerous scientific facts and opinions from the medial professionals he has also suggested the pill induces an early abortion.

The Dutch MEP, Sophie in ’t Veld, said to the Guardian that the legislation was a violation of shared European values. “The current populist national-conservative Polish government is enforcing a sexual counter-revolution, against the health interests and wishes of Polish women and girls,” she said. “Restricting access to the morning-after pill, combined with the right of doctors to refuse treatment based on religious grounds, will have far reaching consequences”.

As result of the C(2015)51 ruling from the European Commission, and upon recommendation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), in January 2015 emergency contraceptive with ulipristal acetate, registered in Poland under the brand name ellaOne, received the authorization to be sold without prescription across the European Union (EU). The ulipristal acetate emergency contraceptive pill (UPA ECP) – ellaOne - became available in Polish pharmacies without prescription from April 2015. The planned restrictions will greatly impede the lives of women and girls and contribute to the sales of this product from unsafe sources. The economical aspect of this decision is crucial to note as only women who can afford to visit a doctor at a private facility (gynecologists at public facilities have an average waiting time adding up to app. 18 days) will be able to do so. This ruling, besides weakening women’s reproductive health and rights, will contribute to a rise in the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions in a country where access to a safe and legal abortion is already incredibly difficult.

Poland becomes one of the very few European countries where such an obstacle in accesing emergency contraception will excist. Such a requirement is also present in Hungary, Albania and Russian Federation.

Additional links: New Europe, MIC, The Guardian, Federation for Women and Family Planning

Jun 26 2017

WHO and the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs have launched a new, open-access database of laws, policies and health standards on abortion in countries worldwide. The database aims to promote greater transparency of abortion laws and policies, as well as to improve countries’ accountability for the protection of women and girls’ health and human rights.

The database is being launched on two platforms:

The database allows comparative analyses of abortion laws and policies across countries, while at the same time viewing information and recommendations from WHO safe abortion guidance. The global picture for abortion laws and policies is complex. Individual countries’ laws and policies can be protective or punitive, specific or non-specific, and limiting or facilitating for access and service provision. The database can help to unpack the complexities and nuances of these laws and policies. The database does not address how laws and policies are applied in practice, and so database users interested in progressive policy reform to protect women and girls’ health and human rights are encouraged to use the information to generate evidence on how laws and policies are implemented.

By sharing abortion laws and policies from across the world, it is hoped that the database will improve transparency and encourage countries to hold themselves to account for protecting girls’ and women’s human rights to health and well-being.

The database includes information on a broad range of policy areas. These include: legal grounds and related gestational limits, authorization and service-delivery requirements, policies about who can provide abortion and where, when and how abortion services are permitted, and criminal penalties for women, girls, health-care providers and others. In addition to data on specific abortion policies, individual country profiles include sexual and reproductive health indicators, links to ratified human rights treaties, and links to UN Treaty Monitoring Body Concluding Observations and Special Procedure Reports, which address abortion.

Source and additional information: WHO

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