Ipas / Global Fund for Women
Leila Hessini, originally from Algeria, is a global feminist leader and activist with over twenty years of advocacy, grant-making and organizing experience. She directs Ipas’s community engagement work and coleads its global stigma and discrimination project. She serves as Chair of the Global Fund for Women board and is a member of the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights and the Safe Abortion Action Fund boards. She is an advisor to the Urgent Action Fund, the Center for Women’s Leaderships’ 16th days of activism against gender-based violence and the International Museum of Women’s Muslim Women’s Art and Voices project. Leila has published widely on feminist organizing in North Africa and the Middle East, women’s reproductive rights and the impact of stigma and discrimination on women’s choices and rights. Her global experience is informed by extensive residency in Egypt, Morocco, France and the United States and engagement with women’s human rights advocates in over 40 countries.
There is much we can learn from our sisters in the Global South who, rather than trying to gain access to services that all too often do not exist or fail to treat them well, are obtaining pills to induce abortion and taking them at home without seeing a health provider.
Abortion stigma is a form of gender discrimination and punishment, and it represents social control of both women who need abortions and providers who provide them.
Fortunately for women, pills have changed the landscape of abortion. Abortion with pills, also known as medical abortion (MA), provides a safe, low cost and easy to use method to terminate pregnancies, and one to which access is increasing in several countries.
Across the globe, men are making key decisions about women’s most basic human rights. Women’s, feminist, queer and LGBT groups, however, have claimed a space that cannot be denied and are standing up for our rights. One poignant example of these efforts culminates today, November 9.
Worldwide, roughly 43 million women have an abortion each year. Yet these same women face stigma, a form of social control used to dehumanize, devalue, and isolate them. Providers are grappling with effective ways to reduce abortion stigma.