By Velimir Saveski, volunteer at H.E.R.A
Two years ago, the National Parliament in Macedonia adopted the Law on Termination of Pregnancy. The new abortion law discriminates against girls and women because of many restrictive aspects such as the submission of a written request, and mandatory pre-abortion counseling with a mandatory waiting period of three days after the counseling. In order to get an abortion, one must follow all of these steps. Also, the anti-abortion law is supported by an aggressive media campaign funded by the government. This is increasing the stigma and misinformation around abortion, which impacts both women who have had an abortion, as well as women and girls who have an unwanted pregnancy and are seeking abortion information and services. In addition, in Macedonia there is no comprehensive sexuality education in schools. Young people in the country do not have access to relevant and scientific-based information related to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
With a small grant received from IPPF, young volunteers at H.E.R.A are working on a project called ‘It is about you’. In order to improve the situation in our country, we want to raise awareness among young people about abortion stigma and how it affects girls and young women. We want to demonstrate that this issue affects all of us whatever our gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual identity, cultural background. Our main activity is creating videos where girls from different ethnic groups will talk about abortion stigma in their mother tongue. This will be supported by a teaser campaign and tweet-a-thon.
So far we have conducted a values clarification meeting with H.E.R.A.’s volunteers and other young women who will participate in the project with the support of an experienced staff member from H.E.R.A . The videos are in the initial stages of development, and we are preparing tweets for the tweet-a-thon to promote the release. We hope to engage a large number of people in our campaign, and help to reduce abortion stigma by talking about the reality of abortion, and dispelling the myths around abortion which are harmful to women and girls in Macedonia.