Erin Wheeler


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    The International Rescue Committee, a multi-sector humanitarian response organization, has embarked on an ambitious strategy to enhance the quality and reach of our programs to help our beneficiaries achieve key outcomes. A central pillar of IRC2020 is achieving gender equality, which requires improved sexual and reproductive health outcomes for women and girls. The global evidence demonstrating that the burden of unsafe abortion falls most heavily on poor women and girls in low resources countries, many of which are affected by conflict and natural disaster, led the IRC to develop a strategy to integrate safe abortion care (SAC) into our programs. This strategy has four main objectives:

    • Clarify our organizational commitment to increasing access to SAC;
    • Transform staff attitudes toward SAC and the women and girls who request the service;
    • Build context-specific knowledge around abortion in each country program; and
    • Implement country program-driven approaches to increase access to SAC.

    As a result of this strategy, three IRC country programs offer safe abortion care and an additional 9 are developing strategies to do so. The IRC’s experience offers a road map and lessons learned for other organizations hoping to increase access to SAC and demonstrates that it is feasible to provide safe abortion care in humanitarian settings.