Women on Web is a non-profit organization based in The Netherlands that provides access to safe abortions for women. The pro-choice led initiative, created in 1999 by Dutch physician Rebecca Gomperts, has launched several controversial campaigns to advocate for women’s reproductive rights globally.
Their boats would sail to states that had criminalized abortions and take women out onto international waters to provide safe procedures legally. Despite numerous legal restrictions, the organization has found creative and innovative ways around them.
Women on Web currently provides two methods for women to obtain abortion pills. The organization will mail abortion pills to women globally after an online consultation with one of their physicians or advise women on how to ask a doctor for pills without arousing suspicion.
Women on Waves is a reaction to a series of laws and political climates that deny adequate health care to women in desperate need of autonomy and a procedure that often saves lives. According to the World Health Organization, 47,000 women die yearly due to complications related to unsafe abortion procedures.
This accounts for thirteen percent of all maternal deaths worldwide and, in countries where abortion services are criminalized and medical services are limited, unsafe abortions account for sixty percent of all maternal deaths (WHO). Because abortion is a highly polarized and politicized procedure, many governments fail to address the issue and limit progressive conversation.
What They Provide
Women on Web’s online campaign includes a video that shows women how to obtain abortion pills (Misoprostol) by asking for arthritis medication for their elderly family members. While it is promoting a potentially illegal action, it also provides women with agency over their reproductive health.
Women on Web is breaking the boundaries of nation states and national laws to provide safe abortions and has become a platform for activism on behalf of women worldwide.
Alongside their online campaigns, Women on Waves has a phone support network made up of women in many regions that speak local languages and are able to talk women through a relatively safe abortion process.
This has developed a community of women activists and support systems in countries where women’s issues are not progressive. While not everyone has access to a computer, cell phones are relatively inexpensive and widely used everywhere.
Women on Web is using a multifaceted approach to the global abortion issue. It uses advocacy and online campaigning strategies to encourage conversations about women’s rights on national and international levels. The gender transformative strategy ensures they will create concrete change for the long term.
Check out their website for more information.