Youth organizations across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) recently led an online campaign—“Abortion: Let’s Talk About It!”—to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.
“Young people are seeking reliable information about their sexual and reproductive health and need access to services during COVID-19,” says Dr. Jean-Claude Mulunda, country representative of Ipas DRC and one of the campaign coordinators. “There is an increase in the number of unwanted pregnancies, sexual violence and maternal deaths due to clandestine abortions, while access to services is more difficult. Reproductive health services, including abortion, must be part of essential health care.”
Using images with educational messages, the campaign was conducted on social networks and provided information on myths and misconceptions about sexual and reproductive health—especially abortion—and on human rights and the Maputo Protocol, an international treaty requiring signatory states such as the DRC to protect women’s reproductive rights by authorizing legal access to abortion.
Youth organizations across the country took part in the campaign, which used Twitter hashtags such as #ParlonsAvortements, #StopFakeNews and #MaputoMonAffaire. Organizations joining in the campaign included the Youth Action Movement, Afia Mama, Habari RDC, and the African Youth and Adolescents Network (AfriYAN).
“Access to health care is a right and not a favor that we grant to young people,” says Benjamin Sabue of the Youth Action Movement. “Young people in good health are the future of the country.”