International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion: Social Media Round-Up
by Sara Barnes
firstname.lastname@example.org, 30 September 2016
International Safe Abortion Day was a huge success on social media with groups from all over the world connecting and talking about their abortion rights goals. The Asia-Pacific region kicked off conversations on combatting abortion stigma and promoting universal access around the #LetsTalkAbortion, #AbortTheStigma and #StepIntoOurShoes sparked by the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership, Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights, Love Matters, CREA, Voice your Abortion, Youth Can Nepal and many others. ARROW drew focus to women human rights defenders while Beyond Beijing Committee organised a candle-lit visual in Nepal for women who have died due to unsafe abortion. Some groups also took the conversation onto Facebook, like Samsara (Indonesia), who hosted a live interactive webshow and SayWhat (Southern Africa) who hosted a lively discussion.
At mid-morning a statement by three United Nations human rights experts in support of safe abortion was released – this spread quickly. Our tweet on the topic was our most popular of the day. The UN Human Rights twitter account tweeted about the statement three times and that was retweeted at least 200 times. Around midday Justice Lucy Asuagbor, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa, African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, also released a statement in support of women’s right to safe abortion, this was not only shared on social media but also made the press in Southern Africa.
The Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, commemorated the day by pointing out how many women die as a result of unsafe abortion and was retweeted 139 times. Still in the world of international institutions, Nomkita Mjwana snuck in a selfie from the Sexual Rights Initiative’s side event at the UN Human Rights Council meeting, a panel entitled Global Action on Safe and Legal Abortion. Her talk there and the twitter conversation she instigated focused on barriers to accessing safe abortion.
By midday London time, Africa, Europe and the Middle East were in full swing. The Coalition of African Lesbians ran a great discussion around body autonomy and freedom. This theme was also a focus for IPPF Europe. The theme of stigma and negative gender stereotypes was picked up by the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, YouAct Europe and many more sharing artwork. A lot of people also referred back to the Czarny protest where people from all over have been wearing black in solidarity with Polish women since 20 September and the protests in solidarity with Irish women that took place on 24 September in more than 30 cities across the world in conjunction with the Irish Abortion Rights Campaign march in Dublin.
As the day progressed, Ipas stressed that abortion is not a crime. Decriminalisation was a major focus across Latin America with protests across the region and chats happening around #YoDecido #NoAlaCriminalización #AbortoLegal among others. There were so many groups active on the day it is hard to find highlights but Mesa Por La Vida and CLACAI did neat round-ups of their members’ and other groups’ work. Feminista arranged a 24-hour programme of talks in Brazil that also engaged with other countries in the region (see #PrecisamosFalarSobreAborto24h). In North America, law and policy changes were a major focus with protests and conversations happening over the Helms and Hyde amendments which both overwhelmingly affect access to reproductive health care for minority and marginalised groups in the US and countries receiving US development aid.
Many, many more groups were active and an incredible number of events were going on, too many to fairly represent them all here, but I hope this gives you an overview of one of the busiest 28 Septembers to date – and inspiration to keep up the important work!