Assessing the impact of the Mobilizing Activists around Medication Abortion (MAMA) Network

Access to safe abortion across the African continent is highly limited, with 93% of women of reproductive age living in countries with restrictive abortion laws. As a result, Africa has the world’s highest rate of maternal mortality due to unsafe abortion. Evidence has demonstrated that medication abortion (MA) with mifepristone and/or misoprostol is safe and effective when administered with accurate information and reliable medicine. With a critical shortage of medical professionals throughout the continent, community-level health workers may play a pivotal role in increasing access to safe abortion services like MA. Since 2016, the Mobilizing Activists around Medication Abortion (MAMA) Network has aimed to expand the evidence base on the attitudes, decision-making, effectiveness, and safety of self-managed medication abortion across the African continent by evaluating members’ on-ground activities and research findings.

The MAMA Network model—comprised of 40 member organizations across 16 African countries—has the potential to help increase access to safe, self-managed MA throughout the African continent and around the globe. Through ongoing research, we assess the local impact of MAMA organizations and the effectiveness of their activities, while also strengthening evaluation efforts of safe abortion hotlines and other out-of-clinic service models. We hope this model will empower Network partners to expand knowledge and autonomy in their own communities, helping to break the silence and stigma around unwanted pregnancy and self-managed MA. Increased activist engagement in the dissemination of MA information has enormous potential to help improve access to safe abortion and change attitudes toward sexual and reproductive health and empowerment. Ultimately, we hope that our findings will inspire other actors to build similar networks, strengthen efforts to dismantle stigma around abortion, and reduce the incidence of unsafe abortion worldwide.

Below is a complete list of ongoing and completed MAMA Network projects:

  • Medication abortion experiences with the support of safe abortion hotlines 2021 (current)
  • Documenting the impact of covid-19 on MAMA Network members 2020 (completed)
  • Documenting activism and advocacy around self-managed medication abortion across the African region 2019 (completed)
  • Increasing access to safe abortion in Kenya and Nigeria: Experiences with self-managed abortion with assistance from a safe abortion hotline 2019 (completed)