International Women’s Day 2023: Launch of the Livingstone Safe Abortion Care Charter – OBGYNs in Africa reaffirm their commitment to safe abortion care


To celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, OBGYN national societies across Africa reaffirm their commitment to strengthen access to safe abortion care through the launch of the Livingstone Safe Abortion Care Charter.  

The Livingstone Charter: background 

The Livingstone Safe Abortion Care Charter, which was initially discussed by OBGYN societies from East, Central and Southern Africa, has been quick to gain support and momentum from OBGYN societies from across the continent.  

The Charter focuses on seven key priority areas that OBGYNs identified to address the scale of unsafe abortion – a leading cause of preventable maternal deaths and disabilities. The national societies have pledged to leverage their clinical expertise and resources to promote safe abortion, a time-sensitive and essential health care. 

Promoting safe abortion care to reduce maternal deaths and disabilities 

Through the delivery of the Livingstone Safe Abortion Care Charter, OBGYN societies will build a greater sense of urgency for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3.1, which aims to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio by less than 70 per 100 000 live births by 2030. The World Health Organization has expressed concern over the insufficient progress in this area – flagging that continuing at the current rates would mean that the world is unlikely to meet this target. There is a crucial need for a greater sense of political will and momentum to respond to this global challenge. 

The commitments in the Livingstone Charter, by building and sustaining political will, are crucial to both advance safe abortion care (nationally and globally) and to ensure that advances to enable access to safe abortion care are not rolled back, as has recently happened in parts of the world.  

Advancing the commitments laid out in the Maputo Protocol 

This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) supported by the African Union’s campaign ‘Maputo for All’. The campaign highlights women and girls’ legal right to access a safe abortion, and has been discussed by African OBGYN member societies as a regional advocacy opportunity to continue to influence decision-makers and advance the commitments made under the Livingstone Charter. 

We need to keep our eyes on the ball, once we lose sight of a good cause we could end up rebounding on abortion. The Livingstone Safe Abortion Care charter will set the way forward.

– Dr Swebby Macha, President, Zambian Association of Gynaecologists & Obstetricians (ZAGO)  


Leadership from the following OBGYN member societies to implement the commitments set out in the Livingstone Safe Abortion Care Charter includes, from Africa: 

Collège National des Gynécologues Obstétriciens du Bénin (CNGOB) 

Society of Gynecologists and Obstetricians of Cameroon (SOGOC) 

Societé de Gynécologie et d’Obstétrique de Côte d’Ivoire (SOGOCI) 

Societé Malienne de Gynécologie Obstétrique (SOMAGO) 

Societé de Gynécologues et Obstétriciens du Burkina (SGOB) 

Rwanda Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RSOG) 

Kenya Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society (KOGS) 

Associação Moçambicana de Obstetras e Ginecologistas (AMOG) 

Association of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Uganda (AOGU) 

Zambia Association of Gynaecologists & Obstetricians (ZAGO) 

Ethiopian Society of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ESOG)

Association of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Malawi (AOGM)

If you are a representative of a national society in Africa, please contact [email protected] for further details on how your society can be part of this growing collaborative movement to strengthen and sustain access to safe abortion care.