2020 was a stand-out year for driving sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) into all corners of relevant European policy processes. IPPF EN achieved a record number of 23 advocacy wins at the regional level, many of which reflected the successful targeting of multiple EU policies, strategies and funding instruments.
IPPF EN has long worked to ensure gender equality is at the heart of the EU, so we were delighted to contribute to substantial gains in 2020. The new EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-24 contains a strong reference to SRHR as a fundamental component of achieving gender equality and women’s rights within the EU. And in the 3rd Gender Action Plan (GAP) 2021-25, the cornerstone of gender equality in EU external actions, a full pillar on SRHR as one of six priority areas was included for the first time. The GAP also mainstreams SRHR in both the pillars on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Health and Education. Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) is included as a way to prevent GBV and achieve equality.
Since the early stages of the COVID‑19 pandemic, IPPF EN and our Member Associations have been actively engaged in advocacy with governments to ensure people have continued access to SRHR.
In Kazakhstan, the Kazakhstan Association on Sexual and Reproductive Health (KPMA) has participated in a working group developing new national guidelines on providing antenatal care though telemedicine and online consultation. In France, the Mouvement Français pour le Planning Familial (MFPF) called on the Ministry of Health to secure the continuity of SRH service provision across the country through the introduction of telemedical consultations, waiving prescriptions and extending delays for medical abortion at home. MFPF’s advocacy for contraceptive and abortion access was successful, as the ministry agreed to relax the rules. In Ireland, the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has worked hard to ensure access to abortion care during the COVID-19 crisis and to limit unnecessary exposure to the virus among healthcare workers and women seeking abortion care. In Norway, Sex og Politikk engaged in advocacy towards the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to secure its prioritisation of SRHR in its COVID-19 related development and humanitarian efforts. These are just some examples of the amazing work done by our members to ensure reproductive freedom and access to care.