Abortion services for adolescents a must

By Edinah Masiyiwa Now that the 68th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women has ended, it is time to reflect and act on the recommendations  that were made, as we endeavor to improve access to Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)  for women and girls.  In reviewing the theme “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls,” I am dismayed by the recommendations relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The…

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Women Organisations Should Prioritize Self-Care Programmes

By Edinha Masiyiwa In my 20 years of experience promoting and defending women’s rights, I have observed that many women, including myself, work without resting. It was only recently in December 2023 when I enrolled in a “How Women Lead” fellowship programme that I reflected on how much I have focused on work without paying particular attention to self-care. I am now on treatment for high blood pressure and it was probably a lack of self-care during my 40s that contributed to this development. In many spaces, I have heard…

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Hope on the Horizon for Zimbabwe as health Ministry Signs Comprehensive abortion Care Guidelines

By Edinah Masiyiwa The Acting Chief Director for Public Health, Dr W Nyamayaro, has signed off on the National Comprehensive Abortion Care (CA) Guidelines for Zimbabwe after more than a year waiting period. These guidelines follow the World Health Organisation’s Post Abortion Care Guidelines of 2022.  These guidelines will go a long way in saving many women and girls’ lives in Zimbabwe through comprehensive abortion care. The CAC guidelines articulate the burden of unsafe abortion on the health delivery system as they highlight that each year, 4.7–13.2% of maternal deaths…

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Time To Put Back Teenage Pregnancy, Abortion On The Political Agenda

By Edinah Masiyiwa As we commemorate both the International Safe Abortion Day on the 28th  September and World Contraception Day on the 26th of September, we should be sure to focus on the problem of early unintended pregnancies among girls ages 10 to 14 years. A few weeks ago, news of these early pregnancies was featured in different media of Zimbabwe thanks to a new survey conducted on the topic which revealed that the adolescent 10 to 19 years pregnancy rate is at 23%.. A United Nations Populations Fund  report…

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As World Population Reaches 8 Billion, It’s Time To Look Beyond The Numbers

In a statement World Population Day United Nations for the recent World Population Day, the UN General Secretary expressed that while the world will reach the 8 billion population mark this year, it is important to not focus on the numerical figure but on the actual people. By Edinah Masiyiwa The State of World Population 2023 report, published by the United Nations Population Fund, calls for reframing narratives surrounding population growth, urging leaders to consider women’s rights and the ability to freely make reproductive choices. This report further highlights that the…

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A Well-Resourced Health System Essential For Zimbabwe to Attain Reproductive Justice

By Edinah Masiyiwa, Executive Director Women’s Action Group Attending a recent workshop organized by the Community Working Group on Health on “reproductive justice” reminded me how much the core values of reproductive justice are being violated in Zimbabwe and how much we need to protect girls and young women from injustice. The term reproductive justice has a history in feminist ideology and has three core values: the right to have a child, the right to not have a child, and the right to parent a child or children in safe…

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Going Beyond The Legal Framework On Abortion To Save Lives of Women and Girls

By Edinah Masiyiwa Nokutenda Hwaramba was a 15-year-old girl who recently died at a shrine whilst giving birth. Her life, like that of other pregnant girls giving birth in shrines, was cut short for preventable causes and this angers me so much. One of the reasons given for why girls like Nokutenda did not deliver safely in a health center is “church doctrine,”’ which left them under the care of untrained religious people. One wonders why such a doctrine is still allowed in Zimbabwe, a country which signed the Maputo…

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As International Safe Abortion Day Draws Closer, Its Time To Reflect on progress towards access to safe abortion for women and girls

The 28th of September is International Safe Abortion Day, and it has two themes: “Diverse Actions, Different Places, One Demand: Access to Safe and Legal Abortion Now” and “Abortion in Uncertain Times.” By Edinah Masiyiwa These themes speak to me as an advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights, and they give me energy to continue working on safe abortion access. They communicate that firstly, we will achieve access to safe abortion through working in our different spaces from research, to advocacy, to awareness raising at community and policy…

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Restrictive Termination Of Pregnancy Laws Won’t Stop Unsafe Abortions

As part of my work as Executive Director of Women’s Action Group, I have been conducting Value Clarification and Attitude Transformation (VCAT) workshops on abortion. Through them, I have interacted with more than 500 young people, policy makers and service providers. It is amazing how each and every one of the participants has an abortion story to tell. This shows the extent to which women are having abortions, and mostly unsafe ones. The fact that women are having unsafe abortions was confirmed by a study by Guttmacher Institute (2016) in…

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