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Marie Stopes Ladies

Our mobile midwives reach women with discreet and accessible services.

It is not only material conditions, like poverty and poor health provision, that prevent women from accessing contraception and safe abortion.

Intangible obstacles like stigma from the community, or religious and cultural restrictions can also go a long way towards making these services difficult to access.

These pressures can deter young women from seeking the services they need - particularly teenage girls, whose age makes them even more vulnerable to the effects of stigma and discrimination.

Marie Stopes Ladies are united by a strong desire to help women in their communities get hold of contraception and safe abortion services.

If women can't leave the house unaccompanied or have concerns about their privacy, Marie Stopes Ladies will visit them in their home.

How do Marie Stopes Ladies help?

Marie Stopes Ladies reach women and young girls who need services that are discreet, accessible and affordable.

They are usually qualified midwives and nurses from the local community, or simply committed women from other walks of life, who work from home or visit clients in their homes.

Marie Stopes Ladies operate in specific catchment areas, providing high quality contraception, medical abortion and post-abortion care. They are one of our most successful means of reaching women who are poor, young, living in restrictive environments, or not using any form of contraception.

Many Marie Stopes Ladies generate their own income and some even go on to become BlueStar franchisees.

Key strengths of Marie Stopes Ladies

Mobile and accessible

Marie Stopes Ladies have the ability to work in multiple locations, set a range of prices and work flexible hours, based on the local demand.

The majority of Marie Stopes Ladies work from home and visit clients in their homes, or hire a room in a government facility. This flexibility means that they see a high number of clients per day, particularly young girls under 25.

Discreet

In some of the regions we work in, social stigma around sexual health means women are too afraid to seek out the services we provide, while cultural and religious restrictions forbid women from leaving the house on their own.

In these situations our fixed centres and outreach clinics don't work. By visiting a client discreetly and in her own home instead, she can receive the services she needs and know that her privacy will be protected.

Community-based

Marie Stopes Ladies live in the communities they serve, and have a strong commitment to helping them.

They don’t consider the job done once a visit is over. Instead they build trusting relationships with their clients, providing them with quality follow-up care or ensuring they’re referred to their nearest Marie Stopes centre or BlueStar clinic.

Expert and entrepreneurial

Many of our Marie Stopes Ladies already have excellent medical and family planning experience, but everyone receives expert training and equipment from us before they go out into the community.

For this reason they enjoy a strong reputation, with over a third of our clients coming to us through word of mouth.

We constantly monitor and assess the quality of what Marie Stopes Ladies do, helping them develop their skills. In fact, many Marie Stopes Ladies have an entrepreneurial spirit, and the opportunity to develop their business skills is a great benefit to them.

Several generate their own income from this and some even go on to become franchisees for our BlueStar network.

Rural and urban

Marie Stopes Ladies operate in towns and urban areas, as well as rural under-served communities.

Rural Marie Stopes Ladies in particular have had great success with reaching young people under 25. Increased stigma and lack of services in rural areas makes our discreet and flexible service a highly effective way of getting contraception to young girls.

Value for money

Where income can be generated by Marie Stopes Ladies, this offers great return on investment for us and sustainability for our clients.

Marie Stopes Madagascar for example has over 170 Marie Stopes Ladies, and the channel contributes nearly 25% of its CYPs and at the lowest cost per CYP by channel.

Meet the women pushing for change in Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso, our extraordinary courageous and determined Marie Stopes Ladies are quietly but steadily pushing for change.

Gifty Danwah – Market porter and client

I hadn’t used contraception before Marie Stopes. I said to myself this will change my life, and it has.

Dina Appiah

Without Marie Stopes I don’t know where I would be, maybe I’d be dead.

Lizzie Banda – Marie Stopes Zambia nurse

I have to work, for the people. That’s why I chose this career. I’m proud to work for my Zambian people.

Where next for Marie Stopes Ladies?

Currently Marie Stopes Ladies are delivering our services in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Madagascar, Nigeria, Nepal and Ghana - but we still haven’t gone far enough.

We want to expand the Marie Stopes Ladies programme within those countries and also set our sights on new ones. This is because we know that this approach:

  • Helps women and young girls living in difficult environments to access vital reproductive health services.

  • Helps communities meet the demand for reproductive health services and reap the resulting benefits.

  • Helps local women grow their careers and businesses.

We're committed to supporting women in the long term. So we’re exploring how we can adjust our existing Marie Stopes Ladies programmes to make them more sustainable.

Marie Stopes Ladies deliver high impact services and the model can be adapted for local use. Some programmes are also self-sustaining by charging affordable fees to clients where possible. However, funding from generous donors is crucial to ensuring we can continue running the majority of our Marie Stopes Ladies programmes – particularly those that reach women living in extreme poverty.

We want our Marie Stopes Ladies to reach more women and girls than ever before - help us go further.

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By 2020 there will be more women of reproductive age than ever before

We must be ready to serve them