This research paper discusses the experiences with self-care and care of ten women who are abortion rights activists in San José, Costa Rica. It details the dynamics that facilitate or limit the inclusion of self-care in the activists’ agenda; as well as the strategies they use to ensure their well-being. Through the use of the frameworks of ethics of care, social movements, reproductive justice and body politics, it explains why self-care is crucial to feminist abortion rights activists. It proposes as an alternative to traditional ways of conceiving social movements, proposing the construction of democratic collectives where care and well-being are key values. The results show how different dynamics are obstacles for the achievement of well-being and care. Such as the activists’ workload, time and resource constraints, political distrust, lack of relays, lack of communication and a culture that does not promote the reflection on well-being. Nonetheless, they all report valuing and attempting alternatives to those dynamics that include collective, external and individual strategies of self-care; the creation of safe spaces with open and emotional communication and strong collective identities; and the use of security protocols and cyber security techniques. As well as the importance of safe networks and clear boundaries, giving a clear picture of how these activists conceptualize self-care as a personal and political tool for resistance.

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Harcourt, Wendy
Social Policy for Development (SPD)
International Institute of Social Studies

Flores Golfín, Daniela. (2019, December 20). How do they cope? Self-care lessons from abortion rights activists in Costa Rica. Social Policy for Development (SPD). Retrieved from