Background and history

Published 8/26/2016 | Updated 8/26/2016

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‘I dream of the day when every newborn child is welcome, when men and women are equal, and when sexuality is an expression of intimacy, joy and tenderness.’ Elise Ottesen-Jensen

Elise Ottesen-Jensen, or ‘Ottar’ as she was affectionately known, founded RFSU in 1933. The right to abortion and contraception, sexuality education in schools and the decriminalisation of homosexuality were some of the issues that Ottar and her colleagues campaigned for.

In order to raise money for these campaigns, they started selling condoms – and this is still the case today, after more than 75 years.

Ottar always had a strong international commitment, which has been reflected in RFSU’s operations since its inception. She was one of the founders of the global organisation International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) (Link). IPPF works towards sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for all, and is represented in almost every country in the world. RFSU is IPPF’s Swedish member association.

Since its foundation, RFSU has been a strong voice for SRHR in Sweden and internationally, through continuous advocacy efforts, working with parliamentarians, civil servants and government officials.

RFSU has partnered with civil society organisations around the world since the 1980s. Projects include:

- initiatives promoting the sexual health of young people in India and Russia

- projects for male involvement in gender equality in Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya

- sexuality education for young people in China

A complete list of RFSU’s finished partnerships can be found here.

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