My Body, My Choices, My Rights
In Burkina Faso, abortion is only permitted under limited circumstances including to protect the life and health of the pregnant person, severe fetal impairment, or in cases of rape or incest. According to Performance Monitoring for Action, in 2020 the national abortion rate was estimated at 23 pregnancy terminations for every 1,000 women, aged 15-49. Because of the legal restrictions and social stigma, unsafe abortions are common.
Through the My Body, My Choices, My Rights program EngenderHealth is working in partnership with the Government of Burkina Faso, Pathfinder International, Communauté d’action pour la Promotion de la Santé Sexuelle et Reproductive au Burkina Faso (CAPSSR), and Save our Souls /Jeunesse et Défis (SOS/JD), to improve access to safe, high-quality abortion care to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality related to unsafe abortions.
The program takes a human rights-based approach to abortion care and supports women and girls to exercise their agency and make decisions about their own health and wellbeing to realize their full sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). It focuses on supporting young women and adolescent girls as well as women and girls who are internally displaced or living in host communities. EngenderHealth and its partners are carrying out the program across five regions of the country, Boucle du Mouhoun, Centre Est, Centre Nord, Hauts-Bassins, and Nord. The Boucle du Mouhoun, Centre Nord, and Nord regions are facing an ongoing humanitarian crisis and host more than 800,000 of the country’s 1.7 million internally displaced people according to UNHCR.
My Body, My Rights, My Choices aims to create a sustainable advocacy environment and strong movement for high-quality abortion care and SRHR; develop the policy, legal, and strategic environment to advance high-quality abortion care; strengthen the health system to provide integrated sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, including high-quality abortion care and GBV services; and support women and adolescent girls to exercise their bodily autonomy.
Local partners are leading efforts to build a robust movement for high-quality abortion care and to secure ownership of the country’s first National Plan of Action for Quality Abortion. The program will also train and expand the knowledge among government officials, parliamentarian staff, and opinion leaders, and support the Ministry of Health to revitalize the network of national and regional SRHR and Family Planning Champions to advocate among citizens and monitor opposition.
To improve the policy and legal environment, EngenderHealth and its partners will advocate to address the existing policy and legal inconsistencies and identify areas to improve abortion care in accordance with evidence, global standards, and human rights agreements. Key milestones related to this goal include ensuring the inclusion of high-quality abortion care in the 2026 National Family Planning Plan and implementing the new Family Life Education training module for students on comprehensive sexuality education.
In addition, the program will work to strengthen the health system to deliver integrated care focused on high-quality abortion services, contraceptive care, and gender-based violence support services in the program regions with a particular focus on humanitarian settings where SRHR services are often a priority. Key components of this work will include training healthcare providers and community health workers, strengthening procurement systems to avoid stockouts of essential supplies and medicines, and working with the police and magistrates to ensure the necessary documentation for legal abortion is easily available for women in need.
Finally, the program will support women and adolescent girls to exercise their agency to make decisions about their own health and wellbeing. EngenderHealth will work through local organizations to lead transformative community dialogues and support information dissemination for in-school youth in each of the program regions. To reach out-of-school youth, the program will use an innovative approach of piloting a network of “trusted Aunties” to reach young women and adolescent girls living in situations of humanitarian crisis. Through these initiatives, the program aims to address barriers to SRH services that women and girls in underserved and displaced populations face and foster an environment where they can access high-quality SRH care, including abortion care and contraceptive care, without fear of discrimination, stigma, or backlash.