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Opening up reproductive choices for women in West Africa thanks to Dutch Postcode Lottery

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8 March 2023 Tags: DKT International, Dutch Postcode Lottery, Safe abortion, She makes her safe choice, SheDecides, West Africa

Good news today on International Women’s Day. Thanks to a donation of over 4.5 million euros from the Dutch Postcode Lottery, Rutgers’ ‘She Makes Her Safe Choice’ programme is able to continue its work. The aim of the programme is to reduce unsafe abortion and increase access to contraception and safe abortion.

Every year, 25 million women worldwide undergo an unsafe abortion. Of these, 44,000 women die due to complications.

Rutgers has achieved great results from 2018 onwards together with DKT International and partners. She Makes Her Safe Choice significantly reduced deaths from unsafe abortion worldwide. Globally, 4.8 million unsafe abortions were prevented, resulting in 13,000 fewer maternal deaths. We also worked on prevention, avoiding 180,000 unintended pregnancies in Ethiopia, Kenya and West Africa.

To continue the programme in four countries in Francophone West Africa, follow-up funding is needed. Within the programme women with unintended pregnancies take centre stage. They too should be able to choose a safe abortion. That is why we are incredibly grateful for this donation.
Marieke van der Plas, executive director Rutgers

Dreaming big for women in West Africa

“We dreamed of a world where every woman could make her own safe choice. We still have that dream,” says Paula Dijk, programme manager She Makes Her Safe Choice. Together with DKT International, new partner SheDecides and other partners, Rutgers is continuing its approach in West Africa.

We do this by training healthcare providers, distributing safe abortion methods and offering online self-care for women. “Although our dream is an ambitious one, DKT is energised by our partnership with Rutgers to create a world without unsafe abortion. Our commitment to strengthening the distribution of safe abortion products is complemented by Rutgers’ work breaking stigma and strengthening advocacy with local partners. This type of collaboration is essential as we continue to tackle the reverberating, global impact of the overturn of Roe v. Wade.”, said Chris Purdy, CEO DKT International. 

Alternative voice

Rutgers and SheDecides will also offer an alternative voice to the increasingly influential groups that oppose freedom of choice and women’s rights. Paula: “Our dream has not yet been achieved. The right to safe abortion is still under discussion globally and also in West Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Togo), and freedom of choice for all is not a given.” Resistance to sexual and reproductive rights calls for intensified engagement in regions like francophone West Africa, where access to abortion is still very stigmatised.” added Chris.

New partner SheDecides will bring in a global perspective and network to the programme. “As SheDecides we are delighted to partner with Rutgers on She Makes Her Safe Choice. Working to spotlight the work of advocates and service providers in West Africa, standing up and speaking out for abortion rights.”

Women’s perspectives central

In this region, women are at particularly high risk of having an unsafe abortion. Reliable quantitative data on abortion in this region is lacking, but WHO estimates that 1.8 million unsafe abortions are performed in West Africa every year.

“We are building on the approach that has been proven successful over the last five years. She Makes Her Safe Choice’s work revolves around women with unintended pregnancies. Their perspective remains central to our work,” Paula concludes.

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