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We work with partners around the world to advance reproductive justice by expanding access to abortion and contraception.

Ipas Sustainable Abortion Care

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The global movement for legal, accessible abortion is growing. Our staff and partners in countries as diverse as Bolivia, Malawi and India are working to ensure all people can access high-quality abortion care.

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The global movement for legal, accessible abortion is growing. Our staff and partners in countries as diverse as Bolivia, Malawi and India are working to ensure all people can access high-quality abortion care.


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August 1, 2023

Ipas DRC celebrates 20 years of impact and progress for women

The Maputo Protocol is a groundbreaking legal instrument developed, signed and adopted by African states to protect and promote the rights of African women, making it one of a kind. In the 20 years since its adoption in Mozambique, domestication of the Maputo Protocol in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has seen remarkable progress. From its publication in the National Gazette in 2018 to the development of comprehensive abortion care standards and guidelines in 2020, the milestones achieved thus far gives hope for the future of Congolese women — meriting a celebration.
On July 11, 2023, endorsed by the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi, the Ministry of Gender held a landmark event for the 20th Anniversary of the Maputo Protocol. The objective of this celebration was to acknowledge the countries’ ownership of the instrument and the progress made over the last 20 years in domesticating the Maputo Protocol, highlight the innovative work and contributions of champions, and reflect on the future with a dialogue on scalable solutions with sustainable outcomes that bolster women’s rights in the country and beyond.

The research on the impact of the domestication of the Maputo Protocol conducted by the University of Kinshasa School of Public Health in collaboration with Ipas DRC and the Ministry of Health presented during this event highlighted the challenges in its application on the field, especially within the judicial and health system.

Key stakeholders united in purpose

Those in attendance included the Minister of Human Rights, Minister of Youth, representatives of the Ministry of Health, the President’s Director of Cabinet, the Permanent Secretary of the Superior Judiciary Council, parliamentarians, the Canadian Ambassador and representatives of the diplomatic corps (Sweden, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, and the UK), police and military corps, international organizations, gender-responsive media, researchers, legal actors, youth, women, civil society organizations, and community leaders.
(H.E. Antoinette Kipulu, Minister of Vocational Training and Trades giving her opening speech)

The celebration was marked by strong declarations from the government, parliamentarians, civil society leaders and leading women’s rights activists.

“The strong mobilization of the government as well as the presidency for this celebration is outstanding; these leaders co-led panels and boldly spoke about the government’s responsibility in creating an enabling environment for women’s rights including abortion rights” stated Gisele Kapinga, high commissioner at the National Commission for Human Rights.

“The fact that women are denied access to safe abortion does not mean that they will not have an abortion; what it means is that they will do it in an unsafe way, risking their lives,” stated member of Parliament and president of the Permanent Commission on Gender, the honorable Christelle Vuanga — who called for all stakeholders including those in the health system and the judiciary system to create a bridge and work together to ensure that women have access to a safe choice without fear of imprisonment.

During his keynote address, H.E. Benoît-Pierre Laramée, ambassador of Canada to the Democratic Republic of Congo (shown above), stated, “I am convinced that the full implementation of this protocol will strengthen the bodily autonomy of women and girls in the DRC, improve their well-being and their socio-economic empowerment.”
“Women in our country are victims of great injustices since birth; the Maputo protocol enables us to tackle these inequalities and build sustainable solutions to repair these historical injustices,” said Minister of Human Rights H.E. Fabrice Mpuela (shown above) as he co-led the opening panel with the Minister of Youth, the DRC president’s Director of Cabinet, and Ipas DRC’s Country Director.

The next 20 years

Reflecting on the next steps with civil society organizations such as the Youth Sprint Movement, Women Lawyers Association and partners (DKT, MSI, and Ipas) on what the next 20 years hold for the future of Congolese women and girls, these activists called for all stakeholders and donors to accelerate the full implementation of the Maputo Protocol by revising the penal code and all other laws that hinder women’s rights. The Permanent Secretary of the Superior Judiciary Council strongly backed this, emphasizing that the judiciary system has taken all measures to ensure that women have access to all the provisions of the Maputo Protocol including safe abortion care.

The fervent engagement of diverse stakeholders supporting safe abortion rights and implementation of the Maputo Protocol gives Ipas and partners renewed hope — fueling efforts towards making the promises of the Maputo Protocol a reality for women and girls across the DRC.