Legal access to abortion and contraception in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was officially expanded in 2018, when the Maputo Protocol effectively became the law of the land. But much work remains to make accessible abortion care a reality.
A three-year project recently launched by Ipas DRC aims to move that work forward. The project, “Makoki ya Mwasi,” will support Ipas’s engagement with the government to develop and disseminate national standards and guidelines for abortion care. It will also support Ipas’s work with local partners to ensure that women know where they can access safe abortion and contraceptive care. Makoki ya Mwasi, a Lingala term, loosely translates as “the rights of women.”
The Swedish Embassy in Kinshasa is providing funding for the project, which was kicked off at an event at attended by about 180 people, including the Chief of Staff to the DRC President, the Minister of Gender and the Swedish Ambassador. Representatives from military, civil society and youth groups also attended. The youth organization AfriYan and Ipas collaborated on an art show for the event, using poetry and photography to highlight the importance of advocating for women’s rights.
“An important part of this project is to improve referral systems from communities to health facilities, so that women and girls know where they can access care,” says Dr. Jean-Claude Mulunda, director of Ipas DRC. “We also will be strenghening existing partnerships with community partners and launching new partnerships with organizations such as MenEngage DRC,” which works to involve men in preventing and responding to gender-based violence and to promote sexual and reproductive health. “This will bring an important new voice to the safe abortion movement in the DRC,” says Dr. Mulunda.
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