“Step into Our Stories, Step Into our Shoes” / September 28 – Global Day of Action for Safe and Legal Abortion
By Love Matters in partnership with WGNRR
“I have still not shared my experience with most of my friends and family. I want to be able to stand up and tell women that having an abortion, which 1 in 3 women do, is not such a big deal. I would like to be able to talk about it because it is a normal thing.”
Abortions have been common throughout history and across cultures, countries and regions. Its criminalization will not stop people from having abortions, even in restrictive settings. Whilst other taboo issues such as same sex marriage are more readily acceptable in some parts of the world – abortion remains among the most stigmatised topics, causing an estimated 49,000 deaths per year worldwide, and many of these women are still under the age of 18. In 2014, an estimated 3.2 million adolescents aged 15–19 in developing parts of the world have had an unsafe abortion.
That’s why organizations, women’s rights, and reproductive justice movements working worldwide to ensure all people’s sexual and reproductive rights have been coming together every year on September 28, to demand access to safe and legal abortion services..
September 28 has been a regional campaign for decriminalization of abortion in Latin America and Caribbean for over twenty years before it was taken on by SRHR activists all over the world as a Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion in 2011.
This year’s global theme is to counter abortion stigma and associated gender stereotypes, two big reasons why it’s so complicated to talk about abortion openly.
We aim to do this through calling on the global community to “Step into Our Stories, Step Into Our Shoes,” and sharing varied experiences and stories of those who have had an abortion, and/or are supporters of the right to access safe and legal abortion.
As part of this campaign we’re launching a global series of videos “Step into Our Stories, Step Into our Shoes”, a social experiment where young people are invited to read letters, in front of a camera, from women who have had abortions.
The aim is to explore emotions and to create feelings of empathy in the participants when asked the question: “How would it feel to be in my shoes” by the woman who wrote the letter, as well as challenge socially constructed ideas of what “type” of person would have an abortion
These young people come mostly from countries where abortion is restricted, stigmatised or illegal. We are proud, for instance, of producing videos in Egypt and in Kenya, showing that young people can also engage in taboo discussions in regions where sexuality is a forbidden topic.
“Step into Our Stories, Step Into our Shoes” was filmed in Egypt (Middle East), Kenya (East Africa), Mexico (Latin America), and India. The series also features videos from the US, where access to safe abortion has increasingly become under threat, as well as from Northern Ireland, where access to abortion is highly restricted.
September 28 is part of global campaigning and advocacy activities undertaken to build an international movement for universal access to safe and legal abortion, from a human rights and reproductive justice approach.
September 28 will be celebrated with offline art installations, debates and protests and online campaigns happening all around the world, especially in places where women are not granted the right to have safe and legal abortion services.
WGNRR (Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights), a southern-based NGO, brings experience of capacitating and supporting CSOs to advocate for increased access to abortion services in restrictive countries including The Philippines, Uganda, Tanzania, as well as Pakistan, DRC and Nigeria. With 30 years expertise in abortion advocacy and campaigning, WGNRR can escalate advocacy efforts to regional and global levels via its offices in Africa and Asia and network of more than 1.000 members in 83 countries. WGNRR is recognised as a global leader in abortion campaigning, responsible for coordinating September 28th Global Day of Action for Safe Abortion.
Open, honest and sex- positive, the Love Matters programme is the global leader in delivering information and media on safe and satisfying sex to 18-30 year olds in areas where information on SRHR is censored or taboo. It currently operates in Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, China, India, Mexico and Venezuela. Love Matters is a programme powered by RNW Media.