Brussels, 17 March 2022 (Press Release)
Today over 60 organizations called on European authorities and the international community to urgently protect the health of women and girls fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.
In a Call to Action published today, the organizations expressed grave concern about the reproductive health care needs and human rights of refugees in Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia and also outlined the severe impact that the war is having on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls in Ukraine.
The organizations said that European decisionmakers and the broader international community must take swift, effective and coordinated action to protect the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls in Ukraine, as well as those who have fled to Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
“It is imperative that European governments ensure that their humanitarian assistance prioritizes the sexual and reproductive health and human rights of women and girls,” said Leah Hoctor, Senior Regional Director for Europe for the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Robust political will and financial support for sexual and reproductive health services is vital to address serious risks of harm to the health of women and girls and to ensure protection from gender-based violence.”
“Women and girls who are coming to Poland from Ukraine need to be able to urgently access essential sexual and reproductive health care,” said Krystyna Kacpura, Executive Director for the Federation for Women and Family Planning, a Poland-based non-governmental organization fighting for reproductive health and rights. “At the moment the barriers they are facing in Poland are severe and they are dealing with very distressing situations.”
“There are so many gaps in the sexual and reproductive health care that is available in Slovakia to women and girls fleeing Ukraine,“ said Adriana Mesochoritisová, Chairperson of Freedom of Choice, a Slovakia-based feminist non-governmental organization working on gender equality and reproductive rights. “We need urgent action by state authorities so as to be able help these women and girls get the healthcare they need.”
The Call to Action lists a number of urgent concrete and practical actions that European governments and the international community should take to address these concerns, including:
- Ensuring that all humanitarian assistance includes provision of a minimum package of essential and life-saving sexual and reproductive health care that must be provided in emergencies (Minimum Essential Service Package (MISP)), and that delivery of sexual and reproductive health kits includes essential sexual and reproductive health goods and medicines, such as contraception, menstrual hygiene products and abortion medicines.
- Ensuring that quality sexual and reproductive health care, including emergency contraception and abortion care, are made available in all host and transit countries to all those fleeing Ukraine and facilitating cross-border access to sexual and reproductive health care in other European Union countries where necessary.
- Ensuring provision of clinical, psycho-social, and other support for survivors of sexual violence.
- Urgently providing political and financial support to gender equality, SRHR and women’s rights organizations and women human rights defenders (WHRDs) including in European Union border and transit countries who are providing frontline support to refugees and IDPs.
The Call to Action is signed by over 60 local and global women’s rights, human rights, and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) organizations working in Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine.
The Call to Action can be viewed here: Call to Action on Ukraine | Center for Reproductive Rights
The Call to Action in PDF: Call-to-Action-SRHR.pdf (reproductiverights.org)