A plethora of barriers to women’s reproductive freedom

Because of high costs, some women like Natela go years between visiting the doctor

Women in Georgia face many challenges in accessing sexual and reproductive health care.  

For starters, many live in rural communities where job opportunities are limited and poverty is high. Here, access to healthcare is complicated because clinics are few and far between. Public transport is scarce and, when available, expensive. Some women, like Natela, a woman living in a rural area near Signagi, a tiny town in the eastern region of Georgia, go years between visiting the doctor, and when they do it is only for emergency treatment. “It’s been 10 years since I last went to the doctors… it’s terribly expensive so now I don’t go,” she says. Natela visited the doctor for abortion care 10 years ago because, without access to contraception, she faced an unintended pregnancy and could not afford to have another child.

The government neglects to provide young people with sexuality education in school, and many people have been denied information about family planning. 45 year-old Tamar (not her real name), a woman living in southwest Georgia, says that before her first abortion, “I couldn’t even recognise a condom, it was something very alien.” Contraceptive care is rarely accessible for people living in remote regions, and it is not free: many women simply cannot afford it. Irina Pshenichnaia, a gynaecologist working at a partner clinic of IPPF member HERA XXI in Senaki, a town in western Georgia, says that even when women manage to access contraception, the state’s failure to ensure education and information mean that they don’t always know how to use it correctly: “One woman was taking the pill three times a day because her friend told her to,” she says.

A street on the outskirts of Senaki, western Georgia
A street on the outskirts of Senaki, where the regional economy is based on agriculture and subsistence farming. Women here are being denied safe and free reproductive lives as a result of poverty and the government’s failure to ensure access to affordable care, reliable information and sexuality education.    

Read the next blog in our series on obstacles to abortion care and women's reproductive freedom in Georgia.

Photo credit: Jon Spaull/IPPF EN