Only when she decides over her body, her life, her future can the world move forward.
One year ago, a global movement was sparked to support the fundamental rights of women and girls as a direct response to the Trump administration’s re-enactment of the Global Gag Rule. It caused people all over the world to come together to shout loud and clear that only she decides about her body, her life, her future – without question.
At Marie Stopes International we promise to be bold and do all we can to protect women’s access to basic and life-saving reproductive healthcare. We will not look away from abortion, and we will not turn our back on the women who need it. We will continue to work hard to ensure a woman’s right to bodily autonomy and protect each and every woman's right to choose when or whether to have children.
Every woman we serve has her own story, her own struggles and her own successes. Today, on the first ever SheDecides Day we want to highlight some of the incredibly strong women we have met, whose stories linger with us and whose lives have been changed by access to or lack of access to contraception and safe abortion.
Because every single one of them matters and every single one of them has an incredible story to tell.
"I got some bottles and I crushed them, just crushed them and mixed it with the same herbs she gave me. Then I drank."
Happy is 18 years old and exudes a confidence well beyond her age.
“I’ve never had concerns about family planning,” she tells us. “I feel free to talk about it and happy to talk about it."
Happy came to a Marie Stopes Tanzania mobile clinic to have a three year implant fitted. She regularly talks to her friends about contraception and feels confident in her right to decide for herself.
“As a woman, I chose a family planning method in order to finish my studies so that I can be a lawyer”
“My advice would be for women to choose a family planning method in order to make their dream to come true.”
Resolute in her desire to keep studying and to wait to have a family, Umah started taking contraception when she was 18. "Getting an education was my dream, and taking contraception has allowed me to pursue that. I’ve avoided many of the challenges my friends have faced. And today I am a graduate, something I am very proud of as a young woman here."Read Umah's story here
Nisha is at a Marie Stopes Nepal clinic for an abortion after an unintended pregnancy. “We were always so careful, the condom must have been damaged”. Nisha was a student and busy studying for her exams when she suspected something was wrong.
“When I first found out I was pregnant, I was really scared. I couldn’t tell anyone. And when I told my boyfriend he didn’t believe me."
Knowing that she wanted to complete her education, continuing with the pregnancy was not an option, and Nisha was able to go to a clinic to safely make her choice about what is best for her.
"After having the procedure, I feel free. I can focus on my studies and my future."
In Dhaka, Bangladesh, we meet Jahanara, a single mother of seven.
“When I was 12 years old, my brothers brought me to a lady who arranged for me to get married. I didn’t want to get married, but I didn’t have a choice.
"Today, my eldest daughter is looking after the other children when I go to work. After my husband died, I wake up early every morning to go to six different houses in the city to clean to make sure I have enough money for my family.
“But it still isn’t enough. It’s impossible for me to feed everyone so I had to send two of my girls away to work as maids. One started working when she was seven, the other one when she was six. I haven't seen either of them since.
“All I want is for my daughter to have a different life. I say to her: when you are ready, have two kids. It’s enough. I won’t let her have the same miserable life as me.”