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

Members of the ASTRA Network Advisory Board, Daniela Draghici, Romania and Medea Khmelidze, Georgia, participated in the 2nd inroads Global Member Gathering in Zagreb, Croatia on March 12-16 that brought together more than 100 activists from around the world.

Inroads, the International Network for the Reduction of Abortion Discrimination and Stigma, is a global network of advocates, scholars, health providers, and donors from around the world, hosted the Inroads Global gathering that created a platform where participants could connect with new and familiar colleagues and be actively involved in many varied and highly interactive activities, providing valuable spaces to learn more about fellow network members.

 

Abortion stigma leads to the social, medical and legal marginalization of abortion worldwide. Though the effects of abortion stigma vary widely depending on context, we see common trends in how social and cultural norms, government and health system structure and policies, and community and individual practices are shaped by this social process. The main idea of Inroads Global gathering is to think and rethink the strategies to deal with the abortion stigma devaluing those people who have had abortions or those associated with abortion.

The 2nd Global Gathering consisted of workshops, panels, mutual learning experiences, participatory documentation, discussions, intervention demos and action planning. Participants discussed experiences of stigma, the patterns we've been seeing around us, and our goals for joining this work across our countries. We explored how one person's experience with abortion might affect many other aspects of their life, such as confidentiality, employment, family, healthcare, and more.

The rich agenda included topics such as: sharing and understanding each other’s work, abortion stigma: concepts and constructs, manifestations of abortion intersecting stigmas, the power of our plurality, mapping and exploring abortion sentiment, human rights and stigma, challenges and progress by region, understanding the framing of abortion and our work, and many others.

During the regional thematic group session, the representative of the Georgian member organization, Real People Real Vision, together with the representative of YouAct, presented the “Speak My Language Toolkit” that aims to provide organizations, professionals, individuals, and especially youth with a framework to develop their own strategies to use storytelling to draw out young women’s voices and freely communicate about abortion.

The Exchange Festival and Intervention Demos were a fantastic opportunity to combine material sharing with a lot of interesting and fun activities. In addition, the organizers staged a film and art exhibition that gathered lots of abortion-related videos from all countries present.

As the gathering took place in Zagreb, Croatia had a special opportunity to present the local context and current struggle during a panel discussion, which was followed by a media workshop meant to publicly discuss stigma and abortion work.

Every day ended with a reflection, expressed by personal experiences and abortion stigma, regional progress and abortion stigma, using arts and color to explore abortion stigma, communicating about our work.

To end the gathering in glory, participants were encouraged to identify discussions we need to have together in future, find new communities and connections, reflect on the future of the network and the movement, and commit to next steps.

Overall, it was a unique experience that all participants and organizers alike were grateful for, that abounded in knowledge, feeling, story sharing which left a mark to last for the two years before the next gathering, because #wemakeinroads.         

More information: https://endabortionstigma.org