Holding the Line in Poland

Working in a country with some of Europe’s most restrictive laws on abortion and contraception, The Federation for Women and Family Planning is one of the only organizations dedicated to protecting women’s reproductive rights in Poland.

The Federation advocates the government for reproductive rights

Photo credit: ASTRA network.

“Poland is a member of the European Union and signatory to major international human rights instruments – yet, when it comes to women’s rights, we are a black spot on the map of Europe,” says Krystyna Kacpura, Executive Director of the Federation for Women and Family Planning.

In this highly complex and challenging context, the Federation has become widely recognized as the most influential advocate for women’s rights in Poland and one of the most powerful defenders of women’s reproductive freedoms in Europe. For many years, the group has tirelessly advocated for women’s interests, holding legislators and governments accountable, providing women with critical services and support, and mobilizing a much-needed opposition to the powerful anti-choice movement. Largely due to its efforts, a greater part of the Polish society has started recognizing reproductive rights as part of human rights.

Impact

  • Over 200 calls in the first three hours on its summer hotline for teens. For many, the hotline is their sole source of reproductive health information.
  • 56 experienced volunteer attorneys provide free counseling services and legal representation through the Federation's country-wide network.
  • Stopped a total ban on abortion in 2011 by targeting legislators, organizing protests, and getting the media's attention.

In addition to its work in Poland, the Federation is also a powerful voice standing for women’s rights on the global stage. The organization actively engages in the United Nations and European advocacy spaces, including the European Union and the Council of Europe. The Federation created and leads the ASTRA and ASTRA Youth networks that unite Eastern and Central Europe’s groups working on reproductive rights.

In a recent example of its advocacy efforts, ASTRA Youth submitted a petition to the European Parliament on compulsory sexuality education in the European Union in 2011; this initiative is currently being considered by member states.

Despite the group’s multiple achievements and successes, the restrictions, taboo, and stigma surrounding sexuality and abortion in Poland remain.

“Over 20 years, the general funding provided by the Global Fund for Women was the most important for us. It allowed the Federation to exist, conduct our activities, and evolve. We could not have managed without you," said Krystyna Kacpura.

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