Despite backlash against sexual and reproductive rights, women’s movements worldwide are mobilized. In 2018, the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) provided financial and technical support, and fought hard for progressive policy change to advance the rights of women and girls.
Funding the Movement for Women and Girls
IWHC provided more than $2 million in grants to 35 organizations in 18 countries across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. Our grants enabled women’s organizations to advocate for safe and legal abortion access; fight for comprehensive sexuality education; combat child, early, and forced marriage; and strengthen women’s civil society. IWHC prioritized trust-based grantmaking, providing flexible and long-term support.
Aahung, an IWHC grantee partner in Pakistan, is implementing a life-skills based education program in coordination with the governments of Sindh and Balochistan provinces with help from IWHC’s rapid and enhanced support. More than 165,000 primary and secondary school students have already benefited from the comprehensive curriculum.
Pressing Forward Abortion Rights
From Ireland to Argentina, in 2018, women in every corner of the world demanded safe, legal, and accessible abortion care. IWHC played a key role in their efforts, funding women’s movements globally, and advocating at the United Nations and in Washington, DC.
In Argentina, the women’s movement, led by IWHC grantee partners Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (CDD) Argentina and Centro de Estudios de Estado y Sociedad (CEDES), mobilized a “green wave,” advocating for a bill that would decriminalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Despite the bill’s defeat, the women’s movement successfully placed abortion rights on the national agenda. In October, Colombia’s Constitutional Court defended women’s rights against an attempt to further restrict access to abortion—IWHC submitted an amicus brief in the case defending women’s right to abortion.
Reframing the Debate on Health Care Refusals
After co-organizing the first international convening on policies that allow health providers to deny reproductive health services based on personal beliefs (so-called “conscientious objection”), IWHC mobilized efforts against this unethical trend. In June 2018, we launched, Unconscionable, a report and policy brief highlighting the dangerous practice of refusing abortion care.
Training a Feminist Future
In 2018, IWHC worked to train dozens of feminist activists through its Advocacy in Practice (AIP) program, conducting multi-day trainings to prepare young leaders to participate in diplomatic negotiations.
IWHC’s Kenyan grantee partner, Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH), replicated the AIP program in 2018 for the first time, training 32 young advocates.
Holding the Line Against the Trump-Pence Administration
IWHC worked in coalition to combat the Trump administration’s dangerous attacks on sexual and reproductive rights by launching a multi-year study to document the impacts of the Global Gag Rule—a policy that forces organizations to choose between US funding or offering comprehensive reproductive health services.
From clinic closures and reduced access to health care, to confusion and fear, the Global Gag Rule is having devastating effects for women and girls worldwide. In 2018, IWHC hosted congressional briefings to educate policymakers on the Global Gag Rule with partners from South Africa and Kenya.
Photos: Adil Hussain for IWHC; Rosinei Coutinho / SCO / STF; Fotografías Emergentes; TICAH; Michael Bonfigli for IWHC.