Hewlett's Partners in the Fight for Safe Abortions in West Africa

Last April, the Hewlett Foundation outlined its thinking on family planning and reproductive health funding (FPRH) in an 11-page strategy document that laid out three major outcomes that it's after.

The first is to ensure that no woman has to experience an unwanted pregnancy, particularly in Francophone West Africa and East Africa. The second is making sure that no one dies due to complications from an unsafe abortion. The third is working to make FPRH a more integral part of overall global development goals.

Hewlett invests in a number of NGOs to advance this agenda. Two key partners in West Africa include Ipas and, more recently, Marie Stopes International (MSI).

Let's start with Ipas. All three of Helwett’s refreshed goals align pretty tightly with the work that Ipas—the North Carolina NGO focused on ensuring access to safe abortion worldwid—has been conducting since its inception. 

Ipas was founded in 1973, and since then it has been working in the often polarizing FPRH corner of abortion. The organization also advocates for women’s access to quality reproductive health care and contraception. The Hewlett Foundation began supporting Ipas in 2000, and has been awarding the international NGO some pretty hefty annual grants every year since then, totaling over $26 million to date.

Related: Hewlett Foundation: Grants for Global Health

Right now, Hewlett is supporting Ipas's activities in Francophone West Africa. Its latest $375,000 grant to Ipas, made last November, will support the advocacy work in the region, including developing new abortion provision strategies that address the restrictive state of such services. The grant also supports Ipas’s work addressing unsafe abortion, and will help the NGO identify potential political, clinical and research partners in FPRH and safe abortion advocacy.

Even bigger Hewlett money went out the door late last year to MSI-US. The reproductive health group, which works many African countries, got $1.5 million to expand it efforts in Francophone West Africa. (The group also got a smaller grant for work in Mali.)

Millions of dollars flow out of the Hewlett Foundation’s Global Development and Population program annually. In 2013, the program’s tally added up to over $85 million spread across 152 grants. Last year, it did gave out even more money. 

As overall funding out of this program has increased, so too has Hewlett’s support and advocacy for safe abortions. In 2013, the foundation made only six grants totaling just under $4 million toward the cause. Last year, both the dollar amount and number of grants dedicated to safe abortion advocacy and provision increased rather dramatically, with 12 grants awarded for over $12.5 million.