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Articles by Category for ‘Women’

The Next Phase of the Birth Control War: Religious Discrimination Lawsuits

Monday, July 21st, 2014

The Next Phase of the Birth Control War: Religious Discrimination Lawsuits 

See: http://www.care2.com/causes/the-next-phase-of-the-birth-control-war-religious-discrimination-cases.html

As more states push bills to strip family planning funding from Planned Parenthoods, or relocate funding so that Planned Parenthood affiliates are last in line, other clinics that provide care to low-income and uninsured residents will be forced to shoulder the burden of reproductive health care services, especially when it comes to offering birth control.

Yet, as a case in Florida shows us, those clinics are now being drawn into the war on contraception thanks to “pro-life” medical specialists who are seeking positions within those networks with absolutely no intention of providing the full range of services the clinics were set up to offer. And sadly, refusing to hire these people won’t work as then you’d be facing a discrimination lawsuit.

The Florida Lawsuit

Sara Hellwege applied for a job at Tampa Family Health Centers (TFHC), but was turned down. According to lawyers representing Hellwege, by refusing her an interview after noting that she was a member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) and learning that she would refuse to offer hormonal contraception, TFHC has discriminated against her on the basis of her religion.

See: http://www.care2.com/causes/the-next-phase-of-the-birth-control-war-religious-discrimination-cases.html

FG targets 36% contraceptive rate through family planning

Monday, July 14th, 2014

FG targets 36% contraceptive rate through family planning

See: http://www.punchng.com/news/fg-targets-36-contraceptive-rate-through-family-planning/

The Federal Government will promote all family planning methods to achieve a contraceptive prevalence of 36 per cent by 2018, the Minister of  Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, has said.

The minister, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Linus Awute, made the statement in Abuja on Thursday at the national family planning stakeholders’ consultative meeting.

Chukwu said the theme, ‘Reducing maternal deaths in Nigeria through healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies’, was appropriate given that family planning was relevant to safe motherhood.

“In repositioning family planning, the goal and commitment of government is to achieve a contraceptive prevalence rate of 36 per cent by 2018. To achieve this goal, there is the need to aggressively promote all family planning methods so as to meet the needs of women of reproductive age,” he said.

See: http://www.punchng.com/news/fg-targets-36-contraceptive-rate-through-family-planning/

Post-2015 Agenda: Organized Chaos or Hot Mess?

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Post-2015 Agenda: Organized Chaos or Hot Mess? 

Sexual and Reproductive Health in Trouble as Goals Move Forward 

See: http://www.populationaction.org/blog/2014/07/03/post-2015-agenda-organized-chaos-or-hot-mess/

The latest version of the zero draft report from the Open Working Group developing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) hit the internet late Monday evening. This is the final draft that member states will have a chance to respond to before the final report is produced and shared with the Secretary General prior to the United Nations General Assembly in September. It is fairly similar to the last draft (discussed here) in that it still has the same 17 goals, with small semantic differences. Overall, there are fewer targets, but both the targets and the process are becoming increasingly convoluted.

This draft misses the integration, aspiration, transformation and sustainability that were meant to drive the post-2015 agenda.  We see important targets missing in this lengthy draft, but we have yet to really see the difficult trade-offs that a final set of implementable goals would require.

See: http://www.populationaction.org/blog/2014/07/03/post-2015-agenda-organized-chaos-or-hot-mess/

As The World Bank Turns

Monday, June 30th, 2014

As The World Bank Turns 

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-walker/as-the-world-bank-turns_b_5530214.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

Something exciting, almost revolutionary, is happening at one of the most conservative of the world’s international institutions. The World Bank, which for decades has been criticized has overly focused on the construction of dams and other infrastructures as the cure for poverty, is turning its focus to the real engine of economic progress in the developing world: girls and women.

The shift from physical capital to human capital has been in the works for several years, but it has accelerated under the leadership of Jim Yong Kim, who became the Bank’s president on July 1, 2012. Kim, an anthropologist by training, understands that gender inequality is one of the biggest obstacles, if not the biggest, to improving economic conditions in the world’s poorest countries.

Two years ago, prior to Kim’s appointment, the World Bank’s annual “World Development Report” focused on the promotion of gender equality, describing it as “smart economics,” but doubts remained as to whether the Bank was really changing its bricks and mortar orientation. The jury is still out, but the Bank’s new concentration on girls and women is gaining critical momentum. And the World Bank Group’s Gender and Development team, led by Jeni Klugman, appears to the leading the charge.

Last month, the team released a new report titled, “Voice and Agency: Empowering women and girls for shared prosperity.” The report argues, and persuasively so, that investing in gender equality will “yield broad development dividends.” Gender equality requires, at a minimum, that women have “voice.” By voice, the Bank means “having the capacity to speak up and be heard and being present to shape and share in discussions, discourse, and decisions.”

But voice alone is not enough. Women also require “agency,” which the Bank describes as, “the capacity to make decisions about one’s own life and act on them to achieve a desired outcome, free of violence, retribution, or fear.”

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Mudede’s claim that contraception causes cancer is misleading and alarmist

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Mudede’s claim that contraception causes cancer is misleading and alarmist 

See: http://bulawayo24.com/index-id-opinion-sc-columnist-byo-49173.html

In remarks at an Africa Day celebration in Harare on 25 May, Zimbabwe’s Registrar General, Tobaiwa Mudede, advised the country’s women to stop using contraceptives, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported two days later.

According to the report, which was picked up and repeated by a number of other Zimbabwean and South African media and sent to Africa Check, the chief registrar claimed, among other things, that:

*    the promotion of birth control measures is a “ploy” by western nations to retard population growth in Africa;

*    the use of these contraceptives made women at greater risk of developing cancer, and should be stopped.

So what is the evidence? Africa Check investigated.

What evidence did Mudede present?
Africa Check asked the Registrar General’s office, which normally deals with administrative matters such as passports, birth and death certificates, not health concerns, to provide a full transcript of the Registrar’s remarks.

They declined to do so, and refused to answer when asked what evidence he had for his comments and whether or not he has had formal training in medicine.

See: http://bulawayo24.com/index-id-opinion-sc-columnist-byo-49173.html

When Motherly Joy Turns to Pure Agony

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Please God, kill my children before they are born 

See: http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/22572/please-god-kill-my-children-before-they-are-born/

The midwife handed her the baby. She took the tiny thing in her arms and stared at him. He was beautiful. For a fleeting moment, she felt unbound joy. He was a part of her. He was… her focus shifted. He was nothing but a hungry mouth to feed like the eight others that awaited her at the house.

Or if one could even call it a house. Two shabby rooms with a makeshift stove and a bathroom next to them was home sweet home. The ceiling leaked, the doors creaked while the paint was in tatters. Her husband had not been able to afford the repair in ages. From clothing to food, everything was scarce, except for the number of children.

She had stopped feeling the motherly joy five children ago. The motherly joy turned to pure agony when she had to watch them sleep on empty stomachs, night after night. Only when another woman in labour at the midwife’s house had told her that she could stop the whole thing by undergoing a little surgery, she mustered the courage to bring it up to her husband. That was the first time he had slapped her.

See: http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/22572/please-god-kill-my-children-before-they-are-born/

Just the Numbers: The Impact of U.S. International Family Planning Assistance

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Just the Numbers: 

The Impact of U.S. International Family Planning Assistance

See:  http://www.guttmacher.org/media/inthenews/2014/06/13/index.html

For more than 45 years, the United States-through its Agency for International Development (USAID)-has been a global leader in enhancing women’s access to contraceptive services in the world’s poorest countries. Empowering women with control over their own fertility yields benefits for them, their children and their families. It means fewer unintended-and often high-risk-pregnancies and fewer abortions, most of which in the developing world are performed under unsafe conditions. Better birth spacing also makes for healthier mothers, babies and families, and pays far-reaching dividends at the family, society and country levels.

The Benefits of U.S. International Family Planning Assistance

A total of $610 million (of which $35 million is designated for the United Nations Population Fund) is appropriated for U.S. assistance for family planning and reproductive health programs for FY 2014.

See:  http://www.guttmacher.org/media/inthenews/2014/06/13/index.html

Father Aldo Marchesini and Jhpiego recognized with UN Population Award

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Father Aldo Marchesini and Jhpiego recognized with UN Population Award 

See: http://www.unfpa.org/public/cache/offonce/home/news/pid/17642;jsessionid=40D780A67AC89F43BA0FFA71D471E79D.jahia01

UNITED NATIONS, New York – On 12 June, UNFPA celebrated the winners of the 2014 United Nations Population Award: Father Aldo Marchesini, a doctor and Catholic priest who treats obstetric fistula sufferers in Mozambique, and the maternal and child health organization Jhpiego.

Both award winners have dedicated more than four decades to saving the lives and preserving the health of women around the world.

Together, their efforts have improved and expanded reproductive and maternal health care, benefiting countless women and their families.

The cause of a lifetime

Dr. Marchesini, originally from Italy, learned to treat obstetric fistula in 1973, while training at a hospital in Uganda. He knew immediately that he would devote his life to the cause.

Obstetric fistula is a complication of childbirth occurring almost exclusively in places where basic maternal health care is unavailable. Prolonged or obstructed labour tears a hole in the birth canal, leading to chronic incontinence and, often, social isolation and marginalization.

“The following year, 1974, I went to Mozambique and I began to operate on every woman appearing in my hospital,” Dr. Marchesini said. Those who arrived for treatment were “suffering and rejected women,” he explained.

How Bangladesh’s female health workers boosted family planning

Monday, June 16th, 2014

How Bangladesh’s female health workers boosted family planning
Contraception delivered through female community health workers has helped to reduce birthrates and infant mortality

See: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jun/06/bangladesh-female-health-workers-family-planning

Wearing sandals and draped in a dark-blue sari, Aparajita Chakraborty glides into the cluster of hilltop homes with the self-assurance of someone who has long been making house calls.

She has. For more than 30 years, Chakraborty has been visiting this extended family, doing checkups and dispensing advice. But she is no doctor, she’s a community health worker who has been dispatched by the local hospital. Yet she has won the trust and gratitude of the surrounding villages by saving lives – mainly from cholera and other deadly diarrhoeal diseases.

With all the men away, either working in the rice fields or having migrated to the city, Chakraborty quickly gets down to business in the family compound of half a dozen homes. She and a colleague conduct a group interview, asking four women personal questions such as: when did they last menstruate? Are they taking the pill, or using another method of family planning?

One woman explains that she stopped taking the pill when her husband began working in Chittagong, a day’s journey away. She resumed her use of contraceptives immediately after his surprise visit. By then it was too late, and she is now expecting their third child.

Another woman says she is not using any form of contraception. The woman’s husband, it transpires, had a vasectomy after their fourth child. But he doesn’t want his brothers to know for fear they will think him impotent. So it’s a secret, albeit one that has been documented by hospital staff, along with every birth, death, marriage, divorce and other vital statistic of 225,000 people in the region.

Chakraborty knows more intimate details about the community than they know about one another. But discretion is paramount, she says: “I keep what I hear to myself. I feel like I’m part of the family.”

She is part of an all-female cadre of community health workers who span this portion of Bangladesh‘s low-lying delta, carefully maintaining one of the longest-running and most detailed health and population data sets in the developing world.

See: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jun/06/bangladesh-female-health-workers-family-planning

The sustainable development agenda and unmet need for sexual and reproductive health and rights

Monday, June 16th, 2014
The sustainable development agenda and unmet need for sexual and reproductive health and rights
Excerpts of editorial by Marge Berer

See: http://www.rhm-elsevier.com/article/S0968-8080(14)43775-3/fulltext

…I want to circle back and talk about “family planning” here, to add some perspectives in addition to what the papers in this journal issue provide. “Family planning” was out of the news for a long time after Cairo, for a whole generation in fact, but contrary to what you may have been told, people’s need to control their own fertility – and their considerable efforts to do so – never went away. Women and men need contraception and condoms now as much as they have ever done, and young people who are beginning to explore their sexuality need contraception and condoms more than anyone else – and are demanding them too. In 2008, 700-800 million women or couples (no figures available for men alone)7 around the worldwere using some form of contraception (why do people always talk about the ones who aren’t?) and some 43.8 million women had an abortion.8

Fertility control was not invented by FP2012; it has a history going back as far as history itself, as the pictures of IUDs past and present in Figure 1 show. There has been a lot of water under the bridge since “family planning” was promoted as the cure-all for the world’s ills in the 1960s. And, just as then, claims are again being made that it will save the world (and the environment too). Unfortunately, it didn’t then and it won’t now, and everyone needs to study/remember that history so that the same mistakes and the same narrow vision, affecting policy and programmes, are not repeated.

My generation of activists, researchers, service providers and policymakers, who brought their knowledge together at ICPD in 1994, got the world to recognise that the need for the means to control fertility was part of a much broader set of needs related to reproduction and sexuality, and that these were inextricably interconnected.

See: http://www.rhm-elsevier.com/article/S0968-8080(14)43775-3/fulltext