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

May 16 2018

Armenia, a small landlocked post-soviet country was on international news headlines recently and the reason, luckily, was not a natural disaster, mass killings or a terrorist attack that usually attracts global media attention in less developed world but the phenomenon of exceptional character of civil disobedience acts bringing to the unprecedented non-violent bottom-up revolution in the post-Soviet territory. Protests and marches took place initially in response to Serzh Sargsyan's third consecutive term as the most powerful figure in the government of the Armenia and later against the Republican Party-controlled government in general. Pashinyan declared it a Velvet Revolution. Read the article by ASTRA’a representative, Anna Arusthyan from Society Without Violence about what really happened in Armenia this year:

The winning recipe of Revolution ‘Love and Solidarity’: Armenian style

May 16 2018

In April and May pro-choice billboards with the slogan “Women in Poland demand legal abortion” have appeared in different cities and towns across Poland. This campaign was organised by an informal women’s group, which managed to gather financial means in a crowdfunding campaign. The organizers and supporters wished to protest with these billboards against manipulative messages of the anti-abortion fundamentalists and to make their voice in the public sphere more distinctive. The billboards were meant to support pro-choice people in smaller, conservative towns and to empower them to show that they possess agency and can change the reality. Their action reflects a solid and growing support for the liberalization of the anti-abortion law.

The latest opinion poll conducted by IPSOS in cooperation with, the online portal run by investigative journalists, reaffirms some continued trends, but it also surprises with new observations. The most crucial conclusions:

  • 37% of Poles are for liberalization, 44% for the status quo and 11% for a stricter law. Since January the percentage of anti-abortion radicals has dropped by 4%.
  • the poll exposes the dual-thinking of Poles. Opinion about the right to abortion is more liberal – among 20% of respondents – when people are faced not with the abstract law, but with a specific situation of a women in an unwanted pregnancy. 55% of interviewees claim that the law should not ban abortion in case of an acquainted in a difficult situation
  • among voters of the Law and Justice Party there are more supporters of liberalization than opponents
  • number of people appealing for a more restrictive law has fallen since January in almost all electorates
  • youth has become one of the most liberal groups regarding their stance on abortion, for a long time they were one of the most conservative groups.
  • acceptance of abortion is lower among people with higher income and with a higher level of formal education, which is not surprising in the light of the fact that they have resources in terms of money, information and contacts to arrange pregnancy termination beside the official system
  • Men are much more conservative than women

Source: Federation for Women and Family Planning

Apr 20 2018
  • Comprehensive strategy document uncovered, plus information on clandestine meetings
  • Links to anti-abortion initiatives in Poland, Spain and at EU level; as well as anti-gay marriage movements in Croatia, Romania and Slovenia
  • Secret strategy also targets contraception, divorce and IVF

Book researched and written by the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF)

A book released today in Stockholm reveals that campaigners from the US and Europe have been strategizing ‘achievable goals’ to roll back human rights in Europe since 2013. Documents have recently emerged showing a detailed, extremist strategy called Restoring the Natural Order: an Agenda for Europe, which seeks to overturn existing laws on basic human rights related to sexuality and reproduction.

The book examines that strategy document and the workings of the Vatican-inspired professional advocacy network, going by the name Agenda Europe, aiming for its implementation.

Agenda Europe is producing concrete results, such as the 2016 Polish bill to ban abortion, bans on equal marriage in several Central European countries and over a dozen comparable acts at national level and in European institutions aiming to limit women’s and LGBTI rights.

While the rise of ultra-conservatism in Europe has been apparent for several years, precisely how these actors are organising, fundraising and attempting to exert influence has not been clear. In shedding light on several of these questions, the book provides a fascinating insight into the clandestine workings and deliberate strategy of Europe’s anti-choice movement.

Commenting on the book, EPF President and Swedish MP Ulrika Karlsson said: “While compassion is a professed cornerstone of Christianity, it is entirely absent in the outlook of Europe’s anti-choice. This movement would force women to carry unwanted pregnancies, restrict access to contraception, decide who can marry and decide who can call themselves a family. Many will be surprised that they also target divorce and access to IVF treatment. In doing so, they are attempting to foist their personal religious beliefs on others via public policy and law.”

Being aware and understanding this ultra-conservative movement is essential for those who want to safeguard a modern, inclusive and tolerant Europe. Intended as a resource for politicians, political parties, civil society and journalists, this book aims to aid that understanding.

Access the book here.

Source: EPF

Apr 18 2018

The 51st UN CPD took place in New York on April 9-13, 2018 under them theme of “Sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration". Dr. Ion Jinga, Romanian Ambassador to the UN, was the Chairperson on behalf of the Eastern-European Group

ASTRA Network Advisory Board member from Romania, Daniela Draghici, represented the ASTRA Network at the 51st CPD thanks to the generous support of the International Women's Health Coalition, as part of the International Sexual and Reproductive Rights Coalition. Daniela had a unique opportunity to have a fruitful working collaboration, also thanks to the relationship she had established with the Romanian UN Mission key personnel in charge of CPD, as well as with the government delegate prior to the session. She supported the national delegation, and the ones from Republic of Moldova, Russia, and Serbia throughout the session and provided feedback on the process to the other activists gathered in New York.

This years’ CPD session did not end with a much expected outcome document as on the last day the Chairperson withdrew the draft resolution, reflecting compromise that was the product of careful negotiations and positive efforts of all national delegations. Unfortunately the United States refused to join the consensus, imposing their regressive view of sexual and reproductive health and rights on the global stage. In addition, the Ugandan delegate, on behalf of the African group, objected to the removal of the sovereignty clause, as well as the watering down of the Global Compact on Migration language.

To make up for this drawback, the representative of Tunisia read a powerful statement on behalf of 35 countries, highlighting the paramount importance of access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Comprehensive Sexuality Education underlining that We, as civil society, were deeply disappointed that after a week of intense debate the member states failed to adopt a resolution at the Commission on Population and Development. Despite this outcome, CPD remains a critical space for countries and advocates to affirm and advance their commitments to advance human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights.

The special theme of next year’s 52nd  session of the Commission on Population and Development will be "Review and appraisal of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and its contribution to the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Additional reading:

Written statement of the Federation for Women and Family Planning on behalf of the ASTRA Network for the 51st CPD

International Women’s Health Coalition, The 2018 Commission on Population and Development and Prospects for the Future

Countdown Europe 2030, A roller-coaster of hope and despair for the international SRHR agenda!

Apr 11 2018
  • All 46 countries researched must do more in providing comprehensive information and reimbursement for contraception
  • Schemes offering reimbursement for long acting and reversible contraception are powerful in increasing access to contraception
  • Unintended pregnancy is an avoidable burden for European States

BRUSSELS, 11 April 2017 Access to contraception should be a key concern of governments in empowering citizens to plan their families and lives. Yet every country analysed by the 2018 Contraception Atlas needs to do more to improve access. The findings show that for many European countries, ensuring that people have choice over their reproductive lives is not a priority. Now in its second edition, the Atlas tracks government policies on access to contraceptive methods, family planning counseling and the provision of online information on contraception in 46 European states.


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