Giving Women Choices: Fouzia's Story

Approximately 40 percent of pregnancies worldwide are unintended, and for displaced women the risks are even greater.

Fouzia Bara is a medical coordinator working with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières in Athens, where the team runs a health care center for displaced people. "Most of [the women], they prefer on their way to avoid pregnancies, because they don't know what will happen," says Bara. "They have no capacity to visualize their future." Women on the move are also more vulnerable to sexual violence and abuse.    

For those already on contraception, a rushed escape followed by a protracted journey makes it easy to lose or run out of birth control pills, or see a longer-acting injection expire. 

For others, denied contraception by community norms or the health system they’ve come from, gaining access is a chance to protect their health in the face of great uncertainty. They need services that can reach them confidentially. Without contraception, women and girls risk becoming pregnant too young, too soon, or in circumstances they would not wish for.

Worldwide, one in four pregnancies ends in induced abortion, almost half of them unsafe; unsafe abortions cause an estimated 13 percent of all maternal deaths. With safe abortion care, these deaths can be prevented.

In Greece, for example, the health system provides termination of pregnancy on request, but is too under-resourced to always respond in time to this and other urgent health needs facing migrants and refugees. The MSF Athens Day Care Center helps fill some of these gaps, and makes cultural mediators and translators available to those who need them. 

To mark International Women’s Day on March 8, MSF is featuring stories of displaced women and girls from places including  Syria, Myanmar, Burundi, and Nigeria.

Learn more about displaced women's health needs:

Because I'm a Woman