Our Programs

Accelerating Progress Towards Making Safe Abortion Care Accessible in Benin

| 2023–2025
With funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, this advocacy program works with local organizations in Benin to strengthen the knowledge and decision-making power of girls and women related to their sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly safe abortion care.

The Accelerating Progress Towards Making Safe Abortion Care Accessible in Benin program, implemented by EngenderHealth, is a collaborative effort to improve information about and access to safe and high-quality abortion care in Benin. In partnership with the Benin Feminists’ Network (Réseau des Féministes du Bénin), the Ministry of Health (Ministère de la Santé), the National Order of Pharmacists of Benin (Ordre National des pharmaciens du Bénin), the National College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Benin (Collège national des gynécologues obstétriciens du Bénin), and the Beninese Association for Family Welfare Member of IPPF (Association Béninoise de Bien-être Familial) the program works to strengthen access to and support safe abortion services, increase awareness of the legality and availability of medication abortion, and fight against the stigma of safe abortion services. The program’s primary goal is to ensure women and girls can exercise their agency and make decisions about their health and well-being to realize their full sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), including safe abortion services.

In October of 2021, Benin passed a new law that states: “At the request of the pregnant woman, abortion may be authorized when the pregnancy is likely to aggravate or cause a situation of material, educational, professional or moral distress incompatible with the interests of the woman and/or the unborn child.” This means that Benin now has one of the most liberal abortion policies in Africa. The World Health Organization estimates that roughly 1.8 million unsafe abortions are performed in West Africa each year, and stigma, cultural norms, and lack of information can continue to prevent women and girls from accessing safe abortion services.

The program responds to the critical need for safe abortion services in Benin by strengthening knowledge and decision-making power among girls and women regarding SRHR, raising community awareness and acceptance of safe abortion care, and supporting the development of training and communication tools to implement the new law effectively. Key interventions of the program include organizing values clarification and attitude transformation sessions for healthcare workers, providing technical and financial support to local partners, advocating for necessary legal decrees and standards, and continuously monitoring and evaluating the impact of these activities on abortion acceptance and access.

The program’s expected outcomes encompass demystifying access to abortion care, strengthening support for safe abortion services, improving the policy and institutional environment for safe abortion provision, and supporting locally-led abortion and SRHR movements. Program initiatives include organizing co-creation workshops to destigmatize abortion access, disseminating information about the legality and availability of medication abortion, conducting research around price and access to medication abortion as well as quality of care of safe abortion services, and training healthcare providers in offering youth-friendly and high-quality abortion counseling and services. Additionally, the program engages influencers, web activists, journalists, and comedians to fight stigma and increase knowledge of the legal framework for safe abortion in Benin. Through these initiatives, the program aims to address barriers to safe abortion information and services that women and girls face and foster an environment where they can access high-quality sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care, including abortion care, without fear of discrimination, stigma, or backlash.