by Akosua Agyepong, volunteer and council member at the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana and National Treasurer of the Youth Action Movement – Ghana
Ghana’s law on abortion is considered one of the most progressive in Africa. However, statistics have shown that the number of unsafe abortions is increasing at an alarming rate mainly because of the stigma surrounding abortions. This was one of the staunch reasons why the Youth Action Movement in Ghana designed and implemented the Peer2Peer project, which was aimed at tackling abortion related stigma on the University of Ghana campus.
At the IPPF Africa Region Youth Forum, I had quite a discussion with the participants and delegates present, on the Peer2Peer project. I explained the law on abortion in Ghana and they were shocked at the fact that despite the liberal nature of the law, women and girls still opted for unsafe abortions. However, I elaborated furthermore that in the Ghanaian society abortion and conversations surrounding it are regarded as taboos. As such it made it difficult for the laws to function effectively.
I illustrated the need for the project, how it was done, our successes and the challenges we faced. Peer education and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, YouTube) were the most powerful means of reaching the students of the University of Ghana with the information on Comprehensive Abortion Care (CAC), as well as the law on abortion. Both means as well as the use of traditional media (T.V and radio) led us to reaching over 2000 people. At the end of the project, through a survey, we gathered that knowledge on safe abortion and the law had increased which in turn led to an increase in the number of people who said that they would not stigmatize individuals who have had abortions.
I shared my personal challenges with the Youth Forum. The name-calling and stigmatization that I personally went through for implementing this project wasn’t at all easy. Participants were curious to know how I dealt with such frustrations during and after the project. The answer to that was simple; “Was the name-calling worth it? Well, yes it was! Because, in the end I would have saved one more girl from an unsafe abortion that could have cost her her life. As long as it’s worth it, I’m cool with it.”
The Youth Forum gave me an amazing opportunity to share this success story and I am ready and willing to share it anywhere at anytime. Over and over until all abortions are kept safe and legal!
Have a look at Akosua’s presentation on the project here.