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Policy and advocacy

We create real change by transforming the environments in which we work.

Every day, in every country where we work, we see our services restricted by unnecessary regulation and over-medicalisation.

This prevents women and girls from seeking and receiving the care and services they so desperately want.

In response we are playing an ever more active role in helping to remove these restrictions and to ensure that the progressive policies that do exist are understood and implemented.

Advocacy - and the unique way it’s done at Marie Stopes International - has never been more important to our mission. Our 2020 strategy, Scaling-Up Excellence, recognises that providing services alone will not secure universal access to contraception or safe abortion, and that to catalyse real change we need to transform the environments in which we operate.

Our approach to advocacy

Our advocacy work is based on both the needs of our clients and the innovations we’ve shown can work.

Our voice is critical in ensuring that policies support access to contraception and safe abortion, and are fit for purpose - informed by the latest medical guidance.

We focus on the issues that affect the frontline of service delivery so that advocacy directly translates into increased access to services on the ground.

Over the course of three years Marie Stopes International has contributed to the reform of over 50 policies that increase access to safe family planning and abortion services across the countries where we work.

These include:

  • New or improved safe abortion/post abortion care guidelines across nine countries ensuring more women have access to quality services, whether that means through increased access to safe abortion care, or improved access to health care following an unsafe procedure.
  • A new family planning law which removed the requirement for parental consent for women and girls under the age of 18 to use contraception in Madagascar. This has meant that more girls can complete their education without being interrupted by an unintended pregnancy. 
  • Together with the Ministry of Health in Afghanistan new guidelines were approved that prohibits virginity testing in the country. The team in the country is now working closely with doctors and nurses in health facilities in every Afghan province to make sure the new policy is understood and communicated.

Advocacy by doing

Our advocacy goes beyond influencing alone.

Through pioneering practices, informed by WHO global guidance, we strengthen health systems and support governments to roll out, scale up and implement policies thereby increasing sustainable access to services. 

We have always pioneered an ‘advocacy by doing’ approach. We do this in our own unique way - showing what works, pushing for change and ensuring reforms are then implemented – using our expertise so that women and girls are no longer denied the services they have a right to. 

For further information about our advocacy work please contact Bethan Cobley, Director of Results Based Advocacy.

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The Global Gag Rule means millions in the developing world could lose access to contraception

We will not turn our back on those who need us most.