Three takeaways from the 2021 State of Reproductive Freedom

Despite an emboldened opposition and a global pandemic, MSI is bringing life-changing services to women around the world.  

That was the message of the 2021 State of Reproductive Freedom call, where Blue Door Society members joined MSI United States President Marjorie Newman-Williams and Ogechi Onuoha, Head of Marketing and Communications for MSI Nigeria, to learn about the impact their support has made. 

Below are three key takeaways from their conversation: 

  1. Attacks on choice in the United States reverberate around the globe. 
    “Here in Nigeria the US is seen as a gold standard, a role model for freedom of choice. When this freedom of choice that we have all looked up to is under attack, from the many court cases and even the landmark judgment Roe v. Wade being challenged, it is critically going to impact and embolden the anti-choice movement here in Nigeria.” 
     
    Ogechi described how the anti-choice movement in Nigeria works with key stakeholders like the media and the police to clamp down on reproductive health services. Providers from the MSI center in Lagos were even detained in 2019. Anti-choice laws in the United States strengthen this opposition and make it harder to provide reproductive healthcare. 
An MSI nurse waits for clients at a clinic.
  1. Changing minds isn’t easy, but it’s possible. 
    “A certain media editor, who actually published a very damning story about MSI Nigeria when we had an anti-choice attack, was invited and took part in a values clarification workshop. During that session, he saw the misconceptions [about reproductive healthcare] for himself, and how the work that MSI Nigeria is doing is contributing to the wellbeing of the women of the household. He saw that by attacking the work that we do, he was actually not making progress but putting the country backwards. This same journalist at the end of the workshop went back to his publication and did a policy piece promoting the work that we do at MSI Nigeria.” 
     
    MSI Nigeria engages with community stakeholders to build support for their work, and the results can be dramatic. One community literally chased MSI providers away in 2017 – but after years of education, they invited MSI to come and provide services earlier this year. Community leaders even declared a public holiday to ensure women would be able to go to the outreach site. 
An MSI outreach nurse speaks to a group of women about contraceptive methods.
  1. Contraception can help young girls continue their education. 
    “A particular young girl that we provided services to, we asked her, ‘You took up this service. Why?’ She explained that her mother dropped out of school because of teenage pregnancy. Her mother’s sisters all dropped out of school because they got pregnant and they got married and they never went back to school. For her at 15, she is sexually active and she wants to continue her education. The access we have given her to a contraceptive method is the reason why she will continue going to school.” 
     
    In the north of the country especially, girls often marry young—sometimes as young as 12 or 13—and begin having children immediately. But MSI team members speak to the girls and their husbands and have successfully helped these young women go back to school to complete their education.  

The event highlighted how donor support allowed MSI to continue to provide services in spite of a global pandemic and intense opposition to a women’s right to choose.  With your help, MSI has and will remain resilient during these challenging times to reach those most vulnerable.   

Want to participate in conversations with frontline providers? Join the Blue Door Society for access to exclusive benefits!  

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