The Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASTRA) is a regional network of 31 women’s rights organizations from 20 Central and Eastern Europe countries working to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights for women in that region. Since ASTRA’s inception in 1999, the Federation for Women and Family Planning has served as ASTRA’s Secretariat. The Federation defends the right to safe and legal abortion and universal access to rights-based sexual and reproductive health services, including comprehensive sexuality education, and advocates for better sexual and reproductive rights and health (SRRH) standards and practices in Central and Eastern Europe through education and counseling services for women and young people.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights are issues of critical importance in Central and Eastern Europe. Women in the region are underrepresented in political and economic arenas, receive lower wages than men for equal work, shoulder a large portion of responsibility for child-rearing and domestic work, and have weak legal protection from harassment or violence.
ASTRA is the only network in the region focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights in Central and Eastern Europe. In a region characterized by economic and political transition, widening social inequalities, a lack of political will to invest in sexual and reproductive health, and a growing anti-choice movement with strong ties to both the Roman Catholic Church and similar U.S.-based groups, ASTRA provides a collective voice to advocate for policies and programs that recognize women's and young people's health needs and human rights. The network is a critical tool for sharing information and strategies, building the capacity of women's organizations, and linking the Central and Eastern European women's movement to wider global processes on women's health and rights.
In November 2013, ASTRA coordinated a three-day workshop and strategy meeting in the lead-up to the Economic Commission for Europe’s two-day meeting to develop priorities for the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The workshop trained participants how to navigate the U.N. system, gave an overview of key advocacy opportunities within U.N. bodies, and developed strategies to advance sexual and reproductive rights and health in the Post-2015 and ICPD Beyond 2014 processes.