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Jan 22, 2015
Women who cover half of the population of the world are comparatively backward in many fields than the men. They are the one who continue the existence of human race on earth with their power of creation. Women’s don’t only have maternity power within themselves but they also have the capacity to lead the society to literacy and enlightenment. Men and women are considered as the two wheels of a same cart, so it is necessary that the both wheels should function properly to run the cart smoothly. So if men have basic right to education, so as should be given to women.
In the context of Nepal, in spite of having skills and capacity women’s are backward because of the conservative thoughts prevailing in the Nepalese society. Apart from those educational rights, they are also deprived of their basic rights and thus are compelled to be backward and are considered as physically and mentally weaker than male. It is said that if a male is educated then a person is educated but if a women is educated then whole society is educated. It also signifies that what capabilities and skills a woman can develop if she is provided with proper education. If a female is educated then she can give good morals and disciplinary and civilized knowledge to her children, who are the infrastructures of the future nation. Similarly an educated woman can enlighten her family, society and the whole nation with her light of knowledge. It is the essence of present time to provide equal opportunities to both male and female.
If male and female are not treated equally then it is a means of pushing the whole nation and society to devastation and deprivation. An intellectual mother gives a birth to a intellectual child. It is also clarified by Napoleon Bonaparte’s famous quotation “give me a good mother; I will give a good nation to the world”. Various world famous women figures such as Madam Curie, Mother Teresa, Benazir Bhutto, Condoleezza Rice etc are those women who lead their society and country to a more sophisticated way. They are such exemplary figures who are the evidence that women, if provided with education and knowledge, can lead the world forward.
So, it is time to develop positive attitude towards women and provide them with their rights and education. It has become an essence for today that the society and nation need equal role of both male and female for the sustainable development. So women education has become a very essential factor today.
#GirlDeclaration #post2015 #globaldev #girlsandwomen#girleffect #investingirls #generation2030
Dec 30, 2014
In Nepal, talking about sex and sexuality is taboo. Imagine not being able to get basic information, or even ask questions. I started working with a local organization so young people, especially young women, could talk about their sexual health and get the lifesaving information they need. With support from Advocates for Youth, after a three year campaign, we got comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education into schools in Nepal.
It didn’t happen overnight. It took years of meetings with policy makers, and the first online activist petition ever used in Nepal to get better sex ed in our schools. Now students can get information on topics like contraception, safe abortion, sexuality and sexual health services.
Advocates invested in me. They brought me to the U.S. for intensive 5-day training where I could learn and meet other youth activists and find family in the issues and challenges that connected all of our activism across the globe. Now when adults in Nepal know that I have been to the U.S., and have met with U.S. government officials, they have confidence in me and our work together becomes easier.
Advocates changed the course of my life and now, my country. Now, it’s your turn.
With thanks for all that you do,
Advocates for Youth
Donate $10 today and you can be an ally for young people across the globe fighting for change in the policies affecting their health and rights in their communities! http://bit.ly/18ygFCx. http://bit.ly/18ygFCx
Dec 20, 2014
I start my normal day at 8.30 AM to go to my university. The distance between the university and my home is merely 4 KMs, however due to the congested traffic and poor management of road it takes me more than 30 minutes of time to cover the distance. The public transportation is so inconvenient that I change two buses within a mere distance of 4 KM to reach my university.
These 30 minutes of the day are the hardest minutes of my day and I face the hard time every day…every morning. I start living a humiliated life, life like a second class citizen as soon as I leave the compound of my house. The moment I hit the road, I feel that I live a life that I am not supposed to leave.
By the time I reach the bus stop, I would have been eve teased several times. The eyes of the passerby would have penetrated through my body several times, yet I move on.
The story doesn’t end here. The story begins now. The moment I try entering inside the micro-bus, whose door is quite smaller than my body size, I would have already been touched by the conductor of the bus even though I would not want him to touch me. He would take the privilege of touching everyone who enters inside the bus.
It gets worst when you enter inside that small moving box called “micro bus” where people are packed and loaded as if they are some goods without life and feelings. Let me tell you how a young girl experiences when she enters inside that box, she would be literally checked out by the eyes of the people who are inside the box.
Let me give you this particular example of one day when I was literally poked in my private parts of the body by a person who would be of my father’s age. At first, I didn’t confront because I was scared but after getting that unwanted gesture for quite a time, I caught his fingers and twisted them bad. But I still didn’t dare to speak…. And I didn’t speak. Today, I regret for not revolting that in front of the public.
Here, I am not just yelling my personal story. As data from the World Bank suggest more than one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime around the world. This is the story of each and every girl who uses the public transportation in the Kathmandu valley. Everyone faces this but we hardly speak out…. The silence that we keep motivates people who treat us like second class citizens more.
Having faced the situation multiple times, I have started using this customized technology that I know as “Pin the fun”….I will use a safety pin to pin the fun that people try to have with me in the public transportation.
However, this is not a permanent solution of the larger problem of eve teasing in public transportation that we face. Improving the public transportation system and making sure that we are not dumped in the moving box like objects could be one of the solutions… But not the fulfilling and only solution.
Solving the problem of gender based violence needs a deeper understanding of the problem. It needs to analyze the dynamic nature of society and the changes that are going through. We need to ask ourselves at home on what kind of culture are we transferring to the younger generation? Are we teaching them to respect women? At the meantime we need to see whether we are silencing women too much in the name of patriarchy and culture so that they cannot protest back even they are exploited.
The answers to these questions need to be asked at personal level and the person asking the questions should be satisfied with the answers!
Many times, we try to escape leaving all the blames on governments and say that we need stronger laws. However, one thing that we should not forget is that morality and ethics are more powerful and stronger than externally imposed law and regulations. The time has come that we ask ourselves that are we creating a world that learns to respect the womanhood.
These are some questions that needs to be answered within. When we get the answers to the critical questions that have been posed above, I think girls like me will stop inventing technologies like “Pin the Fun”. I firmly believe that Together, we can overcome gender based violence and create a better world for ourselves, our loved ones, and future generations.
Dec 19, 2014
Dec 18, 2014
On December 9, the day before International Human Rights Day, CHANGE and 20 other human rights, women’s rights, faith-based, and youth organizations rallied at the White House to call on President Obama to take executive action to ensure that U.S. political barriers no longer stand in the way of access to safe abortion services for women and girls overseas who survive rape or incest or whose lives are endangered by a pregnancy.
Above is a video of me speaking at the rally – I was very excited to deliver remarks on the behalf of Advocates for Youth! I shared powerful stories of our brave and inspiring international youth advocates on the ground. In case you aren’t able to watch the video, here are my remarks:
My name is Imani Marks and I am a member of the International Youth Leadership Council, a project of Advocates for Youth. I am an undergraduate student at The George Washington University here in DC, studying Public Health. I am so honored to be standing here today with all of you and to be among this diverse and influential group of speakers who are all here calling on the President to provide access to post-rape care for women and girls.
I am inspired and have learned a great deal from Advocates’ young women and adolescent girl activists and peer educators working in the global south to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality. Whether it’s Helena in Namibia who suffered sexual abuse growing up, resulting HIV infection, and lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services, including untreated fistula post-partum; Hamna in Pakistan who experiences and is faced with witnessing constant sexual harassment of girls in her town on a regular basis; Shanti in Nigeria who did not have access to information about contraception and experienced complications from an unsafe abortion; or girls in rural Burkina Faso in the town of Leo who have undergone female genital cutting, it’s time for all young women and girls to have complete access to the full-range of sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services, including safe abortion.
Helena in Namibia is trying to make this a reality in her own way by establishing a community-based organization to support young women living with HIV. Hamna in Pakistan is visiting schools to educate girls and boys about sexual harassment and the importance of respecting both girls and boys rights and dignity; and in Burkina, girls already having experienced FGC are standing up for their younger sisters, asking their parents not to subject them to the same harm. Girls and young women around the world and in the direst situations are fighting for their reproductive rights. They are fighting for access to critical health services, including safe abortion.
Now it’s time for the President to step up. To stand with them. And to eliminate barriers to safe abortion care for women and girls.
For more information on the Break Barriers Campaign, visit breakbarriers.org.
Dec 11, 2014
Distance from my house up to my college is about 1 hour. I have problem with transportation as i don’t possess my own vehicle and there are no alternatives for me rather than catching public vehicle. Riding in public vehicle especially for girls is being problematic day by day, i can feel harassment that i am suffering while traveling in it. People harassing us usually don’t realize the mental pressure we are going through. Touching , using slangs and making fun of the dress i wear are the major problems that i am facing right now. These are just the few examples of harassment that i have been facing . Moreover each girls in average of two me are facing the same problem like me in every single minute. Today i want to ask people , what should we (girls) blame whenever we are harassed ? Its either governments loose policy or peoples respect towards woman.Who will be responsible for our security ? Either our family,we ourselves,our self esteem or who else other.
Nov 3, 2014
When we figure out our most embarrassing
moments in the era of solitude, we begin to see
reasons why hope and faith is of utmost
importance to the benevolence of prosperity and
growth. Sometimes, we say our words cannot
rouse our current situation to a glorious height,
and our feelings for vague reasons is not good
enough to strike a deal with change.
The question is: are we giving twice as much or do
we live in nightmares?
For so many reasons we–youths, have failed to
understand why certain things happen: most
youths attribute unpredictable events to “chance
and luck”. I don’t believe that prosperity happens by
chance, or that unexplainable scenarios take place
when the mind is at rest. I put my trust in destiny:
as it is written, so shall it be.
Well, it may interest you to know that there are two
kinds of attitude towards life–when we are almost
on the verge of giving twice as much to hope and
faith for a new beginning.
*There are those who will never figure out that
They were used to achieve a purpose,
*There are those who will, at a late time figure out
That they were exploited to achieve a goal.
Do you know how it feels to be trapped in this
scene,–“It is like going to heaven on bare feet.”
The most profound aspect is understanding the
essence why ones life is useful in a particular field,
the environment or why it is important at all.
The first portrays the picture of Understanding ,
and thousands of youths have faulted in this act.
Understanding the reasons why you are needed for
an objective to work out, why purpose is necessary
to harness the goodwill of change, and why ones
environment plays a huge role in the
transformation of his “Mutual Being,” signifies the
understanding of self.
The latter, exemplifies purpose: why is it the way it
is, what is the objective on the one hand, and why
is it necessary–will the course change? And if it
does, will we?
Grace provides youths with the leverage to do
more with less, to raise boundaries with little
effort–it doesn’t work without a thorough
understanding of why certain things are needed.
The best way to get ahead, and dwell in the throne
of grace is to “Understand Purpose.” It is what
differentiates the major from the minor.
We are youths for change–let it remain the way it
Oct 11, 2014
Today the world celebrates the third annual International Day of the Girl Child, a day to recognize the position of the girl and her unique challenges she faces around the world. This year, the focus is on ending the cycle of violence.
But why focus on violence? Don’t girls face other problems around the world?
Yes, they do. Girls lack access to basic rights, such as education, access to health, political and economic opportunities, amongst others. However, violence against girls intersects all other disparities girls may face. As the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action states, “violence against women both violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms…In all societies, to greater or lesser degree, women and girls are subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse that cuts across lines of income, class and culture.”
Unfortunately, girls around the world face violence every single day. The UNFPA estimates that about 1 in 3 girls and women have experienced violence at least once in their lives. Much of this violence stems from the socialization of the boy and the reinforced societal position of girls and women; girls are taught to keep quiet while boys must dominate and treat girls as their inferiors.
Fortunately, there are ways to stop and prevent violence against girls. All across the world, creative solutions are not only protecting girls, but empowering them.
Boys- and Girls-Only Discussion Groups, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo
The DRC currently faces an ongoing humanitarian crisis. The conflict has excited the problem of sexual violence, genital mutilation, and other forms of gender-based violence. Within displacement camps, UNICEF and Association of Volunteers in International Service have created Adolescent Discussion Groups to give young people a safe place to discuss violence and gender equality. Girls discuss issues pertaining to safe sex, healthy relationships, and sexual violence. Boys are empowered to act as allies in the fight against gender-based violence. Since 2009, the program has supported about 2300 participants. To learn more about the program, watch this video.
Engaging Girls in Sports, Multiple Locations
Engaging girls in sports gives girls a safe place. While playing a sport, girls gain confidence, they learn how to use their voice and they become more aware of their bodies. Coaches can sit with girls, talk with them, and provide counseling for survivors of gender-based violence and can provide girls with any other resources they need. Currently, programs exist in all over Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Australia and the United States. For more information, watch this video.
In Egypt, 83 percent of women have been sexually harassed and 67 percent of men admit to being harassers. The growing social acceptability of the problem led to the creation of HarassMap, an online and mobile system that maps reports of sexual assault submitted by texts. In addition to the reporting system, volunteers are trained to go into their communities and talk to people, such as kiosk and shop owners and doormen, about standing up to sexual assault and harassment. HarassMap also helps communities develop safe zones for girls and women. Safe zones can be shops or entire streets where sexual assault is not tolerated. Here is a video to learn more about HarassMap.
As you can see, all around the world people are working hard to ensure the safety, security, and equality of girls. Let’s take this day – and everyday – to reflect on the issues girls face and continue to take creative approaches to end the cycle of violence against girls.
Oct 10, 2014
Tomorrow, October 11, marks the 3rd annual International Day of the Girl! This day highlights, celebrates, and advances young women’s and girls’ lives and opportunities across the globe.
Let’s continue to ensure that young women and girls are agents of change in their local, national, and global communities. Together we can bring an end to gender based violence, early and forced marriage, and lack of access to sexual and reproductive health information, education and services. The Girl Declaration, the result of a consultation with over 500 girls from over 25 developing countries, seeks to bring the voices of adolescent girls and their dreams for the future to the forefront. By prioritizing the goals of the Girl Declaration – education, health, safety, economic security, and citizenship – into the United Nation’s development agenda, we will stop poverty before it starts.
You must have a computer with working internet, a webcam, and Skype in order to participate. Times throughout the day and evening are still available. We can make accommodations for those who wish to protect their identity. Advocates for Youth is committed to making sure the voices of girls are included in the future global development framework. Over the next year, world leaders have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the lives of adolescent girls, and in turn, the world.
Join us in calling on governments to respect, protect and fulfill the rights and needs of adolescent girls as they negotiate the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Read the Declaration and show your SUPPORT for adolescent girls on the #DayOfTheGirl! http://ow.ly/CzjRt Together we can bring an end to gender based violence, early and forced marriage, and lack of access to sexual and reproductive health information, education and services. Sign here and support girls’ health and rights on this #DayOfTheGirl! http://ow.ly/CzjRt
Aug 12, 2014
For a young activist in sometimes very isolated parts of Africa, one tends to think they are fighting alone or worse, be blinded by their fight. The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), showed me and my fellow activists, among other things, that we were not fighting this fight alone and our fight was only one of many.
Three months after receiving 50,000 applications from young Sub-Saharan Africans, the 500 who have been selected arrived in the US as the inaugural YALI class of 2014. Each of these young leaders has demonstrated a commitment to their countries or communities through civic leadership, public management or business and entrepreneurship.
Twenty universities across America hosted 25 fellows each according to their fields of interests. The program consisted of a 6-week institute including academic sessions and site visits followed by a three-day presidential summit in Washington D.C.
President Obama’s initiative, supported by IREX (International Research & Exchanges Board) is a flagship program which not only helped the fellows to learn more about different American practices in their respective fields through exchange and hands-on experience, but also to learn more from one another.
The program further included different opportunities tailored to the fellows’ interests: all 500 fellows met in DC last week for a summit hosted by president Obama during which they had an opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions on different political and social issues in their respective countries or in the continent in general. The summit was itself a platform for fellows to work together toward solutions to address these issues during breakout sessions featuring different US Government representatives and spokespersons. Thirty six well-deserving fellows from the business and entrepreneurship track competed for and received grants to help start or fund their business; 36 others were selected for a discussion on the challenges facing girls’ education with the first lady Michelle Obama; and about 100 stayed for an additional 8-week internship for professional development and special invitations were sent to selected fellows for the US-Africa leaders summit.
As a Washington fellow myself, I have no words to even start explaining how enriching and eventful the program was. I think the majority of us went back home not only stronger of knowledge and experience but mostly stronger from each other. Today, Advocates for Youth, who has joined the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is opening new doors for me for a better education in sexual and reproductive health and rights. As I am writing this piece, I am reminded of a sentence one of our lecturers told us during his session and which I think, resonates with the whole philosophy of this program. He said “I don’t know better; I know different”. Today, I can echo his words and say “I have not necessarily learned better, I have learned different”. And that is what really counts at the end of the day because we are only bright and leaders enough to know what the reality is in our countries until we know, see, or experience “different”.
Jul 11, 2014
Sex and the city
A sixteen year old girl got pregnant few weeks before i had completed my exams, and the reeking saint of unwanted pregnancy loomed in my street for weeks ; bearing from the first. Most girls I have talked to in my neighbourhood, often say ; ”their family are poor and they lack the essential resources that will trigger a change — socially, physically, emotionally and economically.
”Today, eight out of ten girls (with ages between 12-17) in my community, gets pregnant every two Months”
In Some families ( where girls are a majority), parents lure their daughters into prostitution : as a result of poverty, and poor social status.
We are the drivers our lives: but what if that life is nurtured and understood. What if girls are taught — with basic morals from mother and father.
”what if, for every mistake, she is corrected and shown the right part ; Then, with other positive attribute laid, change can be achieved.
Jun 19, 2014
Travel fan. Unapologetic dragon buff. Student. Lifelong food geek. Beer nerd.
Jun 5, 2014
Coupled with the buzz of religious norms the relationship with sexual health and development in most parts of the world – where girls are a major entity. There are huge barriers raising the heights against change, due to religious tenets and other viral misconception on girls sexual health by uneducated and uninformed dictators.
Most Christian girls socialize and connect with youths of the opposite sex. Frankly the main course for this, is to associate with the outside world and spread the world for change.
In Nigeria, there’s an upheaval of distrust when it comes to Christian girls associating with boys of different social and religious background. The enmity connected with youths due to a difference in background makes it difficult for social equality to take effect.
Most girls have become rigid due to the religious norms governing the idea of equality.
Our social conditioning as males and females is an important determinant of sexual risk behaviours. The pressure from religious beliefs like ,” no sexual intercourse till marriage, no dating and socialize with only the same peer group, pressure most girls into engaging in sexual behaviours they don’t want, and as a consequence increase their risk for unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.
The nub of the matter is that these girls due to pressure from religious norms have rapidly increased the rate of teenage pregnancy and STIs – which is a major threat to a promising society.
I believe that, if we can raise our voice the notion governing religious superiority in our environment , then we may experience social equality.
May 26, 2014
I cannot speak of the number of deaths or give an estimate of the total number of youths that have lost their lives due to certain issues linked to surviving and a rapid desire for change, wealth and fame.
But one thing remains clear. The majority of deaths occurred due to an abrupt change in the ramifications of socioeconomic standards altered by political thugs. This unwanted adjustment made the need for man a do or die affair.
From the unlawful demand for peace and harmony youths have lost their lives. While The government cast their thoughts to the wind, they allow certain laws and rights dwindle the lives of buoyant youths.
Hundreds of youths have lost their lives due to the pressure attributed to voting. It’s good to vote. But the way it’s here, it’s an avenue to increase the deaths of youths. There’s no security given to those voting, and at most case some candidates who have theirs rights stained seek to alter these voting by using extreme means – which in Turn ends the lives of youths.
Also, there are no good hospitals and girls do irrational things to themselves due to lack of knowledge. The health centers that are suppose to maintain a steady health rate at all cost – Do so, by not attending to these girls early and not administering appropriate medications to them. At the expense of trying to stay fit, these young girls loss their lives to minor issues.
Today, people fight for position (wolves in sheep clothing). The most touching of all is the conflicts in ‘Government owned schools’, Where we have an annual contest between David and Goliath. Students have lost their lives for the sake of position resulting from vague issues, protest for a development in school and for their rights to be heard. And still the government has done nothing.
I have often talked about the relationship between LGBT youths and the environment. Well, the crux of the matter is that these youths are either killed or sent to prison, without seeking to understand them and why they find themselves in this situation. Thus, we continually have an evolution of unresolved problems.
The increase in Death rate associated with the lack of knowledge displayed by inane leaders is the worst of all. I believe It has thwarted the need for excellence. This fact alone has almost wiped out the hope we have.
Many have lots their lives and the worst of all is the kidnapping of the young chibok girls in Nigeria (serving as sex slaves).
If we and the government can maintain, sustain and adhere to a standard, then we may have a reduction in conflict and the deaths occurring.
May 24, 2014
From installing baby gates to fastening bike
helmets and seat belts, parents put their kids’ safety
first. But once kids hit adolescence, the risks can
become less obvious. When it comes to teen dating
violence, for example, many parents are blind to the
risk and so don’t offer the help their children may
need. Even when parents recognize teen dating
abuse, their attempts to intervene can be off-target
and often go ignored.
Given the alarming prevalence of teen dating abuse,
all parents should become educated on risks and
warning signs. Simply recognizing abuse, however,
isn’t enough, say experts featured on Be Smart. Be
Well. Teen Dating. Parents also need to know how
to talk to their teens when they suspect abuse, or
they risk pushing their child closer to the abuser.
Learn to identify abuse and follow these steps to
create your own teen dating-abuse action plan.
Wake up to the risk
Many parents falsely assume their child isn’t at risk
for dating abuse. In truth, teen dating abuse affects
both males and females in all parts of the country
and from all walks of life. One in 10 high school
students reports being hit, slapped or physically
hurt by his or her boyfriend or girlfriend in the past
year, according to the Centers for Disease Control
(CDC). And one in four adolescents report verbal,
physical, emotional or sexual abuse by their
boyfriend or girlfriend.
The numbers are just as worrisome for young
adults in college. According to Liz Claiborne Inc.’s
Love Is Not Abuse 2011 College Dating Violence
and Abuse Poll, nearly half of dating college women
report having experienced violent or abusive
behavior at some point in their dating lives, and
one in five report actual physical or sexual abuse or
threats of physical violence.
Even if young people aren’t being abused
themselves, chances are they know someone who is.
According to surveys conducted by Liz Claiborne
Inc. and the Family Violence Prevention Fund, 80
percent of teens reported knowing someone who
has been a victim of controlling behaviors from a
boyfriend or girlfriend. And more than half of
college women report knowing a friend who has
experienced violent or abusive dating behavior.
“The reality is this is an issue that could affect
anyone at any time. None of us are immune from
it,” says Marjorie Gilberg, executive director of
Break the Cycle, a leading national nonprofit
organization addressing teen dating violence and
one of the experts featured on Be Smart. Be Well.
Domestic Violence. “Smart or not so smart, wealthy
or not so wealthy, it doesn’t matter what color you
are or what you believe. This issue affects
Watch for red flags
Despite the prevalence of teen dating abuse, many
parents remain uninformed. Of teens who reported
being victims of physical abuse, only 10 percent of
their parents were aware of the abuse, according to
a 2009 survey.
That may be because parents are missing the signs.
Abuse can take many forms and doesn’t always
result in obvious bruises or cuts. This list of
potential warning signs, compiled by the National
Teen Dating Helpline, can help parents determine if
their teen is in an abusive relationship.
Warning signs include:
Your teen’s partner is extremely jealous or
possessive. Your teen’s partner emails or texts
You notice that your son or daughter is
depressed or anxious.
Your son or daughter stops participating in
extracurricular activities or other interests.
Your teen stops spending time with other friends
Your teen’s partner abuses other people or
Your teen begins to dress differently.
You notice unexplained marks or bruises.
May 6, 2014
We had a lot to say and rail about when Mipsterz releases its
“Somewhere in America” video with hip hijab-wearing ladies. We talked about slut-shaming and music being haram (or not) and everything in between. Then on International Women’s Day when Sheikh Abu Eesa Niamatullah made extremely inappropriate jokes towards women, the global Muslim community rose to fire opinions back and forth on that too.
And when the Honesty Policy released its “British Muslim” video for “Happy,” we had a lot to say then, too. And yes, those issues are important in their own rights. There is growth to be had, stereotypes to be unpacked wrongs to be righted. But can we be fired up as well over the April 15 kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian school girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram – 276 of whom still remain in captivity? Girls whom the leader of Boko Haram is threatening to sell into slavery? (“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video first obtained by Agence France-Presse.”)
Maybe hashtag activism is all we have right now.
Maybe that’s a crock. But maybe that’s where it
starts. And international pressure builds, and then
pressure will be put on the Nigerian government, and
then someone will do something to help those girls.
Staying quiet isn’t getting us nowhere, and it
certainly isn’t doing squat to help 276 girls held by a
As friend and colleague Professor Omid Safi says in
his blog , “ What Would Muhammad Do,” to the
leader of Boko Haram:
The time comes to put aside intellectual exchange:
You repulsive vomitous excuse of a man. Human
beings are not for sale. The girls belong to their own
selves, belong to their own families and communities.
You are nothing short of a thief.
This is a bastardization of Islam, of decency, of
liberation, of all that is good and beautiful.
We are dealing with people’s children here. If we
were dealing with property, it would be akin to
someone breaking into another person’s home,
stealing their property, and then stating that they are
willing to sell the stolen material.
Except that we are not dealing with property. We are
talking about human beings.
Boko Haram stands for “Western Education is haram
(forbidden).” You know what’s haram? Stealing
people’s children…Trying to sell human beings. You,
Boko Haram, you are haram. You are vile and
repulsive, the very antithesis of all that is beautiful
and merciful. Your action have made the lives of 276
school girls a living hell, and brought untold anguish
to thousands of their family members.
May 2, 2014
For months, I have thought, read and surfed the
web and other extensive files and documents of
ways by which ; Males and Females , can have
safer sexual intercourse without STDs and not
having to worry about Unwanted pregnancy.
Although , Abstinence is a profound alternative
which is practiced by volunteering to Refrain from
sex , till a divine time. Abstinence is laid on a
foreground of not having any kind of sexual
relationship with a partner – it is simply
diminishing this urge with self will (i.e not willing
But , I have often dabbled at rigorous questions I
can’t answer ( like : Can we all abstain from sex ?)
If only a handful can, then what about the
majority ? I got the idea of Outercourse, from
Medical Reports I came across and other
“Outercourse allows people to express their
sexuality in many ways, to Abstain from sex, and
avoid the risks of sexually transmitted infection
and unplanned pregnancy”.
“Outercourse is any sex play with no penetration
at all, whether — oral, anal, or vaginal”.
It also, defines the situation of intercourse –
between youths and adults experimentally.
Most youths, especially young couples who desire
no intercourse between themselves for a long time
can delve into outercourse :
Because there are no side effects and medical
faults , since the fondling of the body is meant to
cause stimulation and provide satisfaction.
Outercourse is a the best option for the young and
old, since sexual intercourse cannot be ultimately
Outercourse, is not an education, but rather
abdication of the role of guiding youths with the
information they need to make personally
influenced decisions based on sound reasoning
facts. “Knowing, what is safe and what you should
avoid will help you make proud and responsible
Outercourse gives an outstanding solution to the
aches we have in the society due to certain notions
most youths and couples partake in.
There are ways in which youths, couples and
adults can life an outstanding life without being
cut short by unwanted and unplanned
circumstance. For sexual health – which is every
youth desire , Outercourse should be considered to
reduce sexually transmitted diseases and
Apr 22, 2014
Thoughts at puberty”
Thoughts may come and go,
And minds made decisive,
Mates may stay to cuddle,
And tears cease to stop,
Apr 14, 2014
I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there\’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.
I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.
I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an \”Advocate\”.
I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
\”A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all\”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)
I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.
I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.
I am an \”Advocate For Youth\”.
Apr 14, 2014
I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.
I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.
I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an “Advocate”.
I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
“A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)
I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.
I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.
I am an “Advocate For Youth”.
Apr 12, 2014
Many a time, I have tried to deduce the consequences of some ; Arrogant notions displayed by most youths. The world we live in is Profoundly able to garnish our being to prosperity, and at the same vein make us subjects to harsh circumstances – which will carve us into : Strong, Unrelenting and Determined youths, if we work towards perfection. And destroy our aspect for a Futuristic goal if we reduce our stance, by ploughing the roads of havoc.
Today, we have youths in Prisons, for violating governmental laws and the Commandments ( which is induced in,”LOVE”).
Most parents have Been great and worthy of note, because they have nurtured and trained their children in the right way – using the right principles. Still at this, most youths feel reluctant and partake in ; corruption, rape, killing, cults, sex scandals and other illegal acts.
It’s stated that – “we (Youth(s)) are the leaders of tomorrow.”
But 88% of the world most populous crimes are done by youths. Youths whose future glow more than the stars.
Who is to blame ? Is it the Parent ? I don’t believe that a mother will advise her child to kill or rape a girl.
And I don’t believe a Father, in his sane mind, will propels his son to join a cult.
So who is to blame ?
The environment has a very tremendous phase to play as an assisting dictator of youth growth.
“But should we allocate the illegal acts, committed by youths to the environment ?”
Also, the Government. Poor governance has reduced the overwhelming growth of most countries, and as a result destroyed the countenance of most youths.
This has made most youths swear the, “Oat of Allegiance”, to evil.
Should we then, blame the government ?
Apr 10, 2014
Wednesday afternoon’s side event was so good I just have to share it with everyone! WHO, OHCHR, UNDP, and UNFA joined forces to discuss priorities for SHR beyond 2014.
Kate Gilmore, the Deputy Executive Director for UNFPA, moderated the event. I think she was by far the best moderator I’ve ever heard. She provided excellent commentary to the stories and testimonies of the panelists and even shared her own views on SRH issues.For example, in response to conservative legislation attacking the human rights of LGBT people yet allowing or ignoring child marriage, she says,
“The ICPD is more concerned about men who have sex with children than men who have sex with men…the ICPD is more concerned about acts of violence than acts of love. For any government who is concerned about preventing men from having sex with men, let them first concern themselves with men who have sex with children.”
Marleen Temmerman, Director of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research of WHO shared some insight on the progress we have made since Cairo. Here are some of the facts and figures she shared on our success:
- 50% reduction in maternal mortality
- Increase in the use of modern contraceptives
- Reduction in the rates of new HIV infections
Though we have made great success, she notes that there still are inequalities:
- 6 out of 10 women who want to prevent a pregnancy are not using a modern method of contraceptives. These women tend to be the poorest and most marginalized members of society.
- 1 in 3 women between the ages of 15 and 49 experience violence from a partner
- 99% of maternal deaths happen in low- and middle-income countries, largely from preventable reasons
- 500 million new cases of curable STIs were contracted in 2008
Youth suffer from the greatest inequalities of all. Rachel Arinii, Coordinator of the Youth Coalition in Indonesia spoke on these inequalities. She believes her nations and others neglect the youth’s right to comprehensive sexual education (CSE) and services come from the notion that “human rights [are] a ‘Western’ concept.” She discredits their conclusion by noting the worst inequalities happen within the nation, not necessarily between nations. For example, her country “80% of young people who have received abstinence-only education experience confusion.”
Those figures change when a comprehensive based approach is used. According to Arinii, providing CSE doesn’t do damage at all:
“When we use comprehensive based approach, [youth] are able to protect their rights and make [healthy] decisions. With or without education, people still have sex!”
Apr 8, 2014
Today during the Celebrating Cairo & Going Beyond, we heard a powerful message from Ishita Chaudhry, the Executive Director of The YP Foundation. She spoke on why we must not forget about women and girls. As a Indian woman, she recognizes that many in her country view SRHR as a “Western value;” that “denying human rights is culturally appropriate.”
She also told the story of a 16 year old girl whose parents had arranged for her to marry a middle aged man. However, the young woman was able to participate in a program that educated her on her SRHR. Because of the education she received, she was able to stand up to her parents and refuse to marry the older man. She was so empowered that she eventually presented her story to the Indian government.
Chaudhry also spoke about another serious issue: gender-based violence. Though she spoke on the specific issues women in India face, the experiences are not unique to the nation. Around the world, women are raped, beaten, and told that what happened to them was in fact their fault.
Noting how ridiculous victim blaming is, A Mumbai-based comedy team, All India Bakchod, decided to make a video “It’s Your Fault.” Check it out here: AIB: It’s Your Fault.
Apr 8, 2014
This week, members of the IYLC are in NYC to participate in the 47th International Commission on Population and Development. We’re here to make sure the youth’s voices and ideas are apart of the post-2015 developmental agenda. However, the IYLC particularly want to ensure youth’s right to comprehensive and accurate sexual and reproductive health information and services. Though there are other groups here who are fighting and advocating for the same thing, there is opposition. We have a long week ahead of us; we can use your support! Share why you believe in rights-based SHR should be included in the post-2015 agenda. Use the hashtag #cpd47.
Apr 3, 2014
Ample of time we have been hearing about the harassment of girls
Female harassment happens daily all around the world. Female power always harassed by male. This case is known by all the people. But what about the male Harassment by Female ???
Here is a story of victim of it.
Subash (Name changed) used to live in Chitwan one evening he was sitting alone in the balcony and 6\7 girls group was walking on the road and they saw alone boy was sitting and they tease him. They said, ‘Oh handsome lets go to visit somewhere. Some of them whistle him and make different types of sound to him. Subash felt so shy that he went inside the room. This is a story of a vacation boy who went Chitwan in his vacation and this happen to him.
Hear is another story of Bikram (name changed)
When Bikram was in his 10th grade in school. He was new to his class he haven’t any friends because he was newly admitted in the school. In his class their was a group of girls which group used to tease and made him fool .The group of girls used to give a dash while walking or in the class,ground. that group use to said to him, ‘Oh ho 1 eakli eakli hami aaum basnali?'; ‘oh your are alone do we come to sit with you?’
Boys are also harassed by girls mentally and psychically.
We all think about the girls harassm
Apr 2, 2014
Sometimes I ask myself questions : questions which are ever aching and proving stubborn to define or understand. I can’t recall the last time; a friend ,organization or social community discussed the affair of Youth Development via Sex Education and the threat it poses to Humanity and its affair.
In America there’s a flexible, progressive link for Sex development. Although not perfect but better than what we have here in Nigeria. At most case I have wondered why we are still in the loop hole ; a pit filled with ill-fated people who only acknowledge the receipt of their welfare.
The role of sex Education , is to foster a spontaneous change in : Sexuality, Heterosexual-conscience,Attitude and also promote a Beneficial role in Moral and Value. Youths , (especially boys), will massively grow in self esteem as it will tremendously shape Thoughts and increase a positive intake in Sex orientation and Education.
Educating people on Pre-sex Affair which is the Basics for a good foundation on Youth sexuality, will change lives. What we fail to understand is our, ” inability to Define what Sex Education and the Orientation it has on Youths”.
Sex education is instruction on issues
relating to human sexuality, including
human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual activity, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities, abstinence, and birth control. Common avenues for sex education are parents or caregivers, formal school programs, and public health campaigns.
sex education is defined as a vital public health strategy – which will play a role in the Reduction of STDs : By initializing Health centers, Health tips, Options (Gadget) and Orientation. And will also diminish an increase in Abnormal Behaviors displayed by Youths (Boys mostly) ; which are ,Bullying, Coercion and Discrimination). If Every youth know the basics (i.e, its preventive methods (Abstinence), techniques, and Healthy tips) then we can have a possible outbreak of change in Heterosexuality.
I believe that when people become enormously aware of their Sexuality and how it tends to : Affect, Diminish and Increase STATUS’, we will begin to see change – Fundamentally, Socially and Mentally in schools, society, Environment and the world at large.
Starting with schools – which is a great idea, is one profound step. Advocating Sex-ed in public places, outlets like Seminars, NGO programs and other governmental aids will contribute too.
We need to spread the word which is a,”PROMOTION ON SEX-ED” in schools, outlets, Rural and Urban sphere and other geographical locations.
Mar 28, 2014
via The Guardian
Mar 26, 2014
In the last week of February, the Myanmar government decided to not renew the license allowing Doctors Without Borders (commonly known by its French acronym MSF) to operate in the country. The suspension resulted from disputes over the organization’s aid to the Rohingya Muslim minority, in addition to MSF’s alleged role in escalating ethnic and religious tensions between the Rohingya and the Buddhist population. The humanitarian organization has operated in the country for 22 years.
MSF often provides the only medical care in displacement camps, including access to certain medicines the government does not fund. People living with HIV/AIDS will experience increased difficulties, as MSF was the main provider of HIV/AIDS drugs. More then 30,000 individuals received such medications from MSF and now face uncertainty in acquiring lifesaving therapies.  HIV/AIDS clinics in multiple states have closed already and MSF fears the impact will be devastating.
Mar 25, 2014
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. FGM, which is often carried out with unsterilized instruments, can cause severe health and psychological problems and in some cases, girls bleed to death or die from infections. Later in life, FGM can lead to complications in childbirth and increase the risk of the mother and baby dying.
In East Africa, Female Genital Mutilation is practiced by several tribes with promoters of the practice arguing that it initiates girls into womanhood and increases their chances of being married off. Other tribes believe that cutting off some of parts of the females genitalia like the clitoris reduces cases of girls and married women engaging sex outside their marriages. Promoters of Female Genital Mutilation have little regard (if any) for girls and women’s lives lost or the suffering that they go through after undergoing this cruel and life-threatening ordeal. Girls between eight and fourteen years of age are cut by elderly women often using unsterilized razor blades or knives to initiate them into womanhood and subsequent early marriages. This also exposes girls to higher chances catching HIV from unsterilized knives because cutting is done by unprofessional cutters who are mostly old women who have been involved in cutting for decades.
Hundreds of infants, girls and women are still forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation in East Africa. Young girls run away from their homes for fear of undergoing FGM and miss school while others drop out of school. Local political leaders fear to publicly condemn the practice for fear of losing elections and in some cases they have helped offenders escape being prosecuted in Courts of law. Girls and women are not informed about their rights and protection provided by the available legislation. My visits to communities that practice FGM in Northeastern Uganda have exposed to me the need to continuously inform communities about the dangers of the practice and empower communities to directly take part in projects and efforts to end Female Genital Mutilation.
During my most recent trip in February to a community that practices FGM in Northeastern Uganda, I met girls who had been forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation and needed collective surgery. Most the girls pass out urine uncontrollably and require collective surgery to fix fistula. My trip also inspired me to try and create positive change in these communities to help girls live in safer communities live to their full potentials. I decided to produce a documentary film called ‘Chasing the Cut‘ about girls and women forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation and bring their stories to the world. I am now in my final stages to travel to Northeastern Uganda, Northeastern Kenya, Western Kenya and Central Kenya from April 15 through to May 15 to film and produce the documentary. I am trying to raise funds on Indiegogo to make this film, organize public screening across East Africa, carry out FGM campaigns and organize a procession of hundreds of Activists to deliver a petition to the East Africa Legislative Assembly in Tanzania. I am excited by the prospect of reaching to millions of people and inspiring change through film a to make a difference. My Indiegogo has only 6 days left. Please join me, donate and share my campaign widely http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/kata-ending-female-genital-mutilation
I think men must also actively take part in ending Female Genital Mutilation instead of promoting as is the case in communities that practice FGM where men promote it arguing than women who have been cut make better wives. I think that by exposing the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation, we can then shape plans to completely stop Female Genital Mutilation. I am committed to lead the demands for change and help girls live healthier lives. Please support my campaign here http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/kata-ending-female-genital-mutilation
Mar 22, 2014
In the past years, I have volunteered my skills and time on a number of community projects. But the feeling I had this morning after digging for the laying of pipes which will convey potable water to the community of the of the Bassa Industrial area especially those of the “Plateau Guinness” neighborhood was special. Special because sparked by the smiles on the faces of the adults of this community who had come out in their numbers to contribute to the building of the taps from which will flow this so much talked about “Precious” liquid which some have said is “Life”. The smile on their faces was as radiant as I have only seen on the faces of children enjoying every minute of their life on a school playground at break.
These persons have every reason to smile because Cameroon’s water sector is one of the most neglected and poorly maintained. According to a United Nation’s Environment Program (UNEP), about 92% of Cameroonians living in cities have access to improved water while only 47% of Cameroonians living in rural areas can access potable water. This situation has not only been the cause of the repeated Cholera outbreaks that the country has experienced recently but caused untold damages in families and communities especially rural communities.
In fact, these people who are not alone in their case have had their sisters, daughters, and mothers raped as they moved to the stream to fetch water, they have missed their lessons or being late to school because of they have to move for long distances to fetch water for the family every morning while their peers are in class, and have lost a loved one to diarrhea and other water related diseases. This has no doubt contributed to the lamentable state of rural areas in my country Cameroon.
We must all make the progress our world is currently enjoying benefit all. It is only when the fruits of the progress the world is currently experiencing are enjoyed by all that the development we are so much clamoring for will really be sustainable.
Knowing that atrocities such as those described above are experienced by a countless number of people in other communities around the world is revolting because we live in a world of plenty and can all afford to make life better for all. In fact, the United Nations estimates that 800 million people lack access to safe, clean drinking water .May the below extract from Reflections on Water by the Ecumenical Water Network, a project of the World Council of Churches, inspire you to act in your own small way for this liquid as we observe World Water Day today, March 22nd 2014.
Like the ticking of a clock marking out time, water drips noisily.
Maybe it drips off the edge of a stone or roof in times of rain and plenty,
or perhaps from a badly turned off tap in societies where earth’s most precious
and vital resource is unconsciously wasted.
Mar 14, 2014
I may not know much about Kalki Koechlin, but there are two things I know for sure.
- She cannot dance to save her life and it’s adorable. Exhibit A: “Balaam Pichkari” from Yeh Jawaani Hai Dewaani.
- She is fiercely outspoken when it comes to women’s rights.
The following video is a piece the bollywood actress performed at the India Today Conclave titled, “The Truths of Womanhood“. It touches on everything from gender roles in history, societal expectations of women, objectification and rape. Her monologue is poignant in all of its shining veracity.
Kalki is also famous for starring in the All India Bakchod viral video titled, “It’s Your Fault”.
Mar 8, 2014
Mar 7, 2014
Advocates for Youth condemns the multiple instances of disturbing government actions aimed at denying the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) persons that have recently taken place in Nigeria, Uganda, Russia, India and almost in Arizona, right here in the U.S. We will speak out against such intolerance and bigotry. This complete disregard for human rights and we will not let it go unnoticed or unchecked.
Urooj Arshad, Associate Director of International Youth Health and Rights at Advocates for Youth, spoke with Richard, an LGBT youth activist who lives in Nigeria. On the 14th of January, the President of Nigeria, Ebele Goodluck Jonathan, assented to the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill passed by the National Assembly criminalizing gay relationships. The law further criminalizes the witnessing or aiding of same sex relationships, the direct or indirect public show of same sex “amorous relationship” as well as registering, operating or participating in gay clubs, societies and organizations. Since the signing of the Nigerian law, a number of people have been arrested in Nigeria.
Despite the dire circumstances and the threat of real danger on the ground, Richard is still doing, and plans to keep doing advocacy work.
– Q: What does this moment in history mean for you?
A: This moment means to me the fact that the world is moving but sadly in the wrong direction. It is of total disbelief because I sincerely , like every other optimistic person, hope that by 21st century we would have progressed with healthy debates that enhances the existence of man and freedom for all. The reverse is the case as we in the 21st century are still struggling to accept one another and show love to everyone. The good thing about this is that it would go down in history as the time when oppression towards LGBTQ people took a scaring leap but it became an awesome opportunity for LGTBQ to organise, become more strengthened and made an impact. Because you believe that this is the best time for LGBTQ people to stand up and ensure that their voices are heard and their rights respected and protected.
– Q: Why are you still doing the work even when the threat of danger has increased?
A: The reason I am still doing the work is because the threat is increasing, it is because there is still discrimination on basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and it is because oppression is taking a new and dangerous turn. I strongly believe now is the time to fight and get it right. As the threat to danger increases so do I feel I need to do more as I believe in the future not just for myself but for every other young LGBTQ person growing up.
– Q: What do you want people to know about Nigeria, even in the midst of this conflict?
A: I want people to know that Nigeria is a beautiful country with beautiful people. I want people to know that Nigeria is not occupied only by bigots, ignorant and violent people. Nigeria does have a fair share of beautiful people, intelligent people and people who are committed to the advancement of humanity. Nigeria, ofcourse, is going through hard times but the truth is, Nigeria would win and Freedom would apply to all Nigerians very soon regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
– Q: How will young people lead the way out of this?
A: Young people are already leading the way and they are already speaking up. They are organising and they are using very creative ways to achieve results and yes it is working. We won’t see the results now but very soon it would be crystal clear. Young people are energetic, determined, committed, creative and very instrumental to change and yes it’s important they are part of this and the good news is that they are already, we only wait to see the bright future when freedom is applicable to everyone.
Mar 7, 2014
It has nearly been four months since Eastern Visayas was ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) yet the situation of the people remains difficult and our future uncertain. No words can aptly describe of our situation in those trying moments. In just four hours, Yolanda destroyed our homes, offices, schools, and our source of livelihood. Along the rubbles that the mighty current of storm surge have carried are the lifeless bodies of our friends, neighbors, relatives, and loved ones – many of whom are still missing, or have joined the count of dead bodies waiting to be identified and be given proper burial.
I am deeply grateful and touched by the love and support of my friends and families abroad. For five days of uncertainties, they have filled-up my Facebook walls and my e-mail with messages of hope mixed with concern and prayers that have sustained me. I want to personally thank my amazing family in Advocates for Youth (especially to Nicole, Mimi, Janine, Sulava, Urooj and everyone), my orange family – Y-PEER Pilipinas (especially to Ate Zai, Kuya Mario, Ate Aiza, and everyone), and my relatives who sent their help in many forms that help sustain our temporary exile from Tacloban.
My unwaivering faith with my God has inspired me to move on and go on with life. It is the first time that I wrote a lengthy blog. I have to admit that the super typhoon has somehow robbed a part of me and somehow that emptiness has also made me not inspired to write with gusto as much as before. Now, I am back. Inspired with the new hope that the city of my birth will rise above the rubbles, I returned to Tacloban last January 11 to begin anew but dealing with the stress and trauma is not easy.
The days, weeks, and months that followed after Yolanda were particularly difficult for us as we try to come into terms with our loss and face the uncertainties of future. After four months, we are continuously hearing of the rebuilding and rehabilitation plans that our national government was able to come up and will be implementing. The people are being forced to accept this plan but the pressing questions are these: Were they able to exhaust their means to consult the people on the kind of rebuilding and rehabilitation that we, the people affected by Haiyan wanted? Were our voices heard in the process? Have they taken into account of our welfare and well-being?
We have decided to act. Since we are able to stand-up on our own feet, it is high time that we act and get involved in the rebuilding and rehabilitation of Yolanda-affected areas. This is for our survival from climate change induced calamities and from the shackles of poverty. We must not allow the national government to come up with a rebuilding and rehabilitation plan that will send us back to the situation that made us vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and poverty. That is why the Freedom from Debt Coalition together with the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) Eastern Visayas ngan Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) will be organizing a March Rally tomorrow, March 8, 2014 so that the national government will hear our cries, the people will listen to us. Let us make it known to the government our demands which include the following:
1. Livelihood fund for women. Women are one of the most vulnerable sectors to climate change. They should the capacity and means to rise above from the ruins of Haiyan so that they can be self-sufficient and so that they can help their families as well.
2. Assistance for farmers and fisher folks. In agriculture, the farmers especially those in the coconut industry and the fisher folks are the ones whose livelihood was badly affected by the super typhoon. They need assistance in order for them to recover their source of income.
3. Student calamity fund for students in Yolanda-affected areas. Allocate a budget for State Universities and Colleges in Haiyan-affected areas so that it can help their students especially those whose parents are financially incapable of financing their studies in the form of: scholarships; employment opportunities such as hiring student assistants; and other ways and means in which the fund can help the students.
4. Automatic PhilHealth coverage to all families affected by Yolanda since most does are not capable of paying their hospitalization and not all areas in Region VIII have a public hospital or health centers.
5. Lower the price of commodities. Government should implement Price Freeze and strict monitoring on the prices of commodities and implementation of the law by government-designated agencies such as DTI.
6. Temporary suspension of the Value Added Tax (VAT) to basic commodities in Eastern Visayas and other areas directly or indirectly affected by Haiyan.
7. Regular and permanent jobs, not only Cash for Work. Many of our brothers and sisters have lost their livelihoods to super typhoon Yolanda and most of them cannot go back to their former livelihood.
8. Assistance to homeless families in order for them to rebuild their homes. We have heard of the construction of bunk houses and plans for permanent shelter for homeless families. Bunk houses constructed without following international standards should be reconstructed. Permanent shelters should be built not later than soon. Those whose houses are damaged but still habitable should also be extended with help.
9. Climate Justice for all victims of Haiyan. Super Typhoon Yolanda was brought about due to the unabated Carbon Dioxide emissions to the atmosphere by factories and machineries of developed countries since the start of Industrial Revolution which resulted to global warming. Developed countries are accountable to developing countries like the Philippines for their historic and current role to climate change and global warming. Therefore, it is but right that they should pay developing countries in a form of reparations such as the Green Climate Fund which can help them be more prepared and adaptive to climate change and so that they can mitigate the effects climate change that is unavoidable.
10. Fund for climate change induced calamities and poverty such as what President Aquino signed in 2012 in what now known as the so-called People’s Survival Fund Law which allocates 500 million pesos for Climate Change adaptation and mitigation which remains un-allocated and un-programmed since the Aquino administration has yet to craft its Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR).
Since we are able to stand-up on our own feet, it is high time that we act and get involved in the rebuilding and rehabilitation of Haiyan-affected areas. This is for our survival from climate change induced calamities and from the shackles of poverty. That is why we must not bide with time and wait for the government to act. This is an opportunity for us to be stand in a common ground and be united. We must not allow a “business as usual” recovery and rehabilitation. Yolanda left us a hard lesson and a grim reminder that Yolanda may not be the last super typhoon to visit Eastern Visayas. Let the memory of those who die will not fade in our consciousness. Do we want that the events in November 8 happen again in the future?
Mar 5, 2014
Over the past months so much has happened in the LGBT community around the world:
1. President Obama continues to gives stern warning to countries that criminalizes homosexual.
2. Other World leaders making a vivid statement as it regards to the recent winter Olympics in either not showing up or openly condemning Russia’s law which criminalizes public expression of LGBT advocates.
3. The passing of new Anti-Gay law in Uganda .
4. The World Bank postponing a $90 million health project for Uganda citing the country’s passage of a new anti-gay law, “We have postponed the project for further review to ensure that the development objectives would not be adversely affected by the enactment of this new law.
5. US Secretary of State John Kerry calling for a world “where professing one’s love does not lead to persecution.”
6. Actress, Whoopi Goldberg has accused the governments of Uganda and Nigeria of being ‘on the wrong side of history’ in response to anti-gay laws being passed in the two countries.
7. Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, stating that “homosexuals are not criminals” and shouldn’t be sentenced for up to life in prison. Therefore he is calling for the repeal of its severe penalties.
8. The Pope, Francis has made a point of reaching out to gays, famously saying: “Who am I to judge?”
9. LaBarbera an Anti-Gay Pastor is reported to have travelled to Jamaica to speak at an anti-gay conference organized by the Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Coalition.
Hillary Clinton’s speech on international LGBT issues was game changing years ago. A historic address of this magnitude was desperately needed to counter the rising tide of backwards and barbaric nations that had recently been persecuting LGBT people to distract from their glaring problems.
“I want to talk about the work we have left to do to protect one group of people whose human rights are still denied in too many parts of the world today,” said Clinton to a packed auditorium of human rights activists who gathered in Geneva for International Human Rights Day. “I am talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, human beings born free and given bestowed equality and dignity, who have a right to claim that, which is now one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time.”
I close in saying, It’s not time to kill the gays and I don’t think there should ever be a time when we want to kill the gays as they are humans just like everyone else who identifies themselves as something else. Let’s continue to work to preserve human rights and never give up in this fight.
Feb 19, 2014
“…The new law that criminalizes homosexuality is popular among Nigerians. But it shows a failure of our democracy, because the mark of a true democracy is not in the rule of its majority but in the protection of its minority – otherwise mob justice would be considered democratic. The law is also unconstitutional, ambiguous, and a strange priority in a country with so many real problems. Above all else, however, it is unjust…A crime is a crime for a reason. A crime has victims. A crime harms society. On what basis is homosexuality a crime? Adults do no harm to society in how they love and whom they love. This is a law that will not prevent crime, but will, instead, lead to crimes of violence…”
This incredibly brilliant piece by Adichie makes me want to scream with joy from the highest building. I am so glad she took time to address this. She did a great job too. The excerpt above is my favourite part of the article because it addresses the core problem of any anti-LGBT legislation. How can actions which affect no one but the individuals involved be labeled a crime and legislated?
In Nigeria’s case it’s so frustrating because as she also pointed out, there are SO MANY other issues plaguing the nation, but the government has chosen to focus on something that isn’t even a problem.
Well done Chimamanda! Well done!
I was a bit disheartened when I saw the negative comments, but then I reminded myself that there will always be hate directed towards one group of people or another. There will always be people who choose to remain ignorance and embrace their preconceived notions regardless of the information provided to them.
The real concern is freedom. If one is free to love who one wants, marry whom one wants, what does it matter if people think it is wrong? Everyone is entitled to their opinions.
Feb 17, 2014
I discovered that TED and TEDWomen have never featured a talk on abortion.
…When I asked around, the consensus was that the omission was simply an oversight. But it turns out TED is deliberately keeping abortion off the agenda. When asked for comment, TED content director and TEDWomen co-host Kelly Stoetzel said that abortion did not fit into their focus on “wider issues of justice, inequality and human rights.”
“Abortion is more of a topical issue we wouldn’t take a position on, any more than we’d take a position on a state tax bill,” Stoetzel explained. She pointed me to a few talks on women’s health and birth control, but this made the refusal to discuss abortion only more glaring. In the last three years, the United States has seen more abortion restrictions enacted than in the entire previous decade; the United Nations has classified the lack of access to abortion as torture; and Savita Halappanavar died in Ireland because a Catholic hospital refused to end her doomed pregnancy. Just how is abortion not an issue of “justice, inequality and human rights”?
OPPRESSED MAJORITY (Majorité Opprimée English), by Eleonore Pourriat
“On what seems to be just another ordinary day, a man is exposed to sexism and sexual violence in a society ruled by women.”
What they say: “People are just people.” ”I don’t see color.” ”We’re all just human.” “Character, not color, is what counts with me.”
Response: “Colorblindness” negates the cultural values, norms, expectations and life experiences of people of color. Even if an individual white person can ignore a person’s skin color, society does not.
For all you Americans, lad mags are pornographic men’s magazines. Y’know Hustler, King, Penthouse etc.
This article by Jezebel features a study done by the University of Surrey, on the very thin line between derogatory statements in these magazines, and actual quotes from rapists.
Feb 13, 2014
TW: graphic discussion of rape and sexual violence
The Women’s Media Center has created a user-generated map to document and raise awareness of sexual violence in Syria.
“The goals are three-fold: Firstly, we want to put the stories of sexualised violence in Syria on the map, drawing attention to them.
Secondly, we want to highlight where these abuses are taking place, pinpointing where victims need help, so that they can be offered survivor and psychosocial services once the fighting dies down.
The third aim is a long-term one – we want to build up a documentation base that could potentially be used as evidence if there’s going to be war crimes trials.”
Feb 10, 2014
via Al Jazeera America
Feb 10, 2014
A week ago, I was fortunate enough to attend Creating Change 2014, organized by the Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Houston, Texas. Although this was my second time attending this conference, my excitement was surprisingly higher than last year’s, thanks to this year’s keynote speaker being Laverne Cox. I have become a huge fan of Cox the moment I saw her on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black (if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out big time). Ever since, I started following her on social media and kept up with all of her appearances on TV and in other media outlets. The qualities I admire the most about Cox are her high level of intelligence, exceptional eloquence and fierce poise. I was so lucky to listen to her live during Creating Change’s opening plenary where she delivered a speech that was out of this world. She did not leave a single issue facing the transgender community without mentioning it, especially when it comes to transgender women of color, whom she represents so well. I especially loved the point she raised, saying, “The conversation about trans people in mainstream media has centered on transition and surgery.” Cox explained that limiting our trans conversations to transition and surgery objectifies trans women and does not leave us room to discuss the myriad of pressing issues that face the trans community today. This is exactly what happened on CNN with Piers Morgan a few days ago when he interviewed Janet Mock, who is another incredible trans activist. Instead of focusing on Mock’s newly released memoire “Redefining Realness,” Morgan bombarded her with questions about her physical transition and romance life. The next day, Mock came to his show again to explain how his show attempted to sensationalize her story instead of focusing on the real issues at hand. In her speech at Creating Change, Laverne Cox talked in length about the many injustices trans people, especially trans women of color, face nowadays, including violence, discrimination in the workplace and lack of healthcare access. In Cox’s words, “Healthcare for trans people is a necessity. It is not elective, it is not cosmetic, it is life-saving… But we are more than our bodies.” I remember the entire audience standing up and clapping after she articulated these powerful words.
I truly loved how this year’s Creating Change gave more space for the conference attendees to discuss the issues facing transgender people and learn more about this marginalized community. I personally attended the screening of “TransVisible: Bamby Salcedo’s Story,” which is a documentary film about Los Angeles-based trans Latina activist Bamby Salcedo. The film is very touching and eye opening to the serious struggles of trans women of color. I also attended a workshop entitled “Transgender People Unite Against Hate and Violence” in which Bamby was one of the panelists. The panel was very informative about the various forms of violence that transgender people experience, not only on the streets and in the workplace, but also at home and from the police. This workshop made me realize that there is not enough data available to us in order to reflect trans people’s struggles, thus making trans activism especially hard. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, “of the 25 documented anti-LGBTQ homicides in 2012, 53.8% of the victims were transgender women. [Moreover], transgender people were 1.67 times as likely to experience threats and intimidation, 3.32 times as likely to experience police violence, and transgender people of color were 2.46 times as likely to experience physical violence by the police.” The reality is very sad for trans people, especially trans women of color. But I am so happy that Creating Changed highlighted this community’s struggles and made room for us to share solutions and success stories. There is a lot more we can do, but visibility is a great step in the right direction.
Feb 7, 2014
I have no doubt that female genital mutilation is a harmful practice, violating the human rights, health, and well-being of young woman. However, a part of me feels for thousands of mothers who continue to force their daughters to undergo the process. I understand the desire for their daughters to be accepted by society and continue to practice cultural traditions. As Westerners, I believe we are too quick to denounce a practice without recognizing our own faults. Why should families forgo FGM if we can’t give up male circumcision?
Though a controversial comparison, let’s take male circumcision in the U.S. compared to FGM in Somalia.
Even though the male circumcision rate in the U.S. is decreasing, a large majority of baby boys get cut. What started out as a practice of religious freedom, parents’ reasoning for circumcising their infants range from cleanliness to preventing HIV/AIDS to the fear their male child will be teased in the locker room. First, cleanliness shouldn’t be an issue – nature knew what it was doing and the foreskin completely protects the head of the penis from feces, urine, etc. Secondly, yes, circumcision was found to be helpful in the prevention of female to male contraction of HIV/AIDS. However, this study was done in sub-Saharan Africa where heterosexual sex is the #1 way to contract the virus and adult males consented to having the circumcision. There is no evidence that it decreases the risk for MSM or IV users. Finally, in 99% of cases, if you’re child is even fortunate enough to have a gym class in today’s time you’re child will never be forced to get fully naked in a locker room. However, I do understand the negative reactions that could come to play – circumcised men especially perpetuate the belief that it is weird or nasty to be uncircumcised.
Like the U.S. with male circumcision, majority of Somalian women have been cut. Much like a U.S. parent’s fear of their son being unaccepted by society, FGM continues because of societal pressure for a girl to remain modest and a virgin until marriage. FGM can be performed on a girl anywhere from infancy to puberty, typically with no consent from the girl. However, unlike circumcision in the U.S., FGM is usually not performed in a medical setting and can cause an array of mental and physical problems. In addition, FGM perpetuates the patriarchal idea that sexual pleasure for males only.
Because of the physical effects of FGM, it is easy to see how we can conclude that is worse than circumcision. But what if a parent had her daughter cut in a medical institution by trained professionals under anesthesia? What if the parent only decided to cut the prepuce of the clitoris or a small portion of the labia? All of these scenarios could make FGM more relatable to male circumcision in the U.S., right?
So why give up FGM? Beyond everything, FGM violates the rights of women and girls all over the world. No matter how safe you could make FGM, a girl’s right to health, security, and bodily integrity is infringed.
I do believe we should work towards ending male circumcision. However, FGM is more urgent of an issue as it is more likely to kill and injure young women and girls.
To learn more about FGM, visit http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/
Jan 24, 2014
Many of you might not be familiar with the reality show train wreck known as The Real L Word. It’s also created by Ilene Chaiken, which might explain its problematic nature. The entire series, reality show included, has a HUGE biphobia problem.
This article by Autostraddle discusses the issue, which is both internalized by a bisexual cast member and perpetuated by a few other lesbians. I find it so ironic that a community which is supposed to be known for its openness discriminates against others so savagely.
There are so many people on TV and the internet these days talking about how everything a white person does or says to a black person can be called racism. Well you know what? It’s Friday and I’m not about to give myself another headache by thinking about all the people who refuse to educate themselves. Let’s face it. Unless you’re part of a group that claims to be facing discrimination, you do not have a right to tell said group that they are wrong because you will NEVER see things from their perspective.
That aside, I think Richard Sherman is right to say that “Thug” is the new n-word. A lot of people care more about being viewed as PC instead of caring about their actual words and actions. They see others suffer the consequences of using the n-word and then come up with creative ways to say what they actually mean.
It’s 2014 people. How about becoming decent human beings?
Usually I have a problem with non-Nigerians bashing Nigeria because I think that the country’s citizens and residents are the only ones who understand what’s going on. And by that I’m referring to situations where people lump us all into a group of bum-scratching ignorants or try to prescribe a cure without a thorough diagnosis. In this case however, I whole heartedly agree. It is shameful that the Nigerian government has chose to focus on an issue that does not require their attention AT ALL, instead of fixing the million other countries. Two words Goodluck Jonathan – Boko Haram.
- Katie Couric is kind of a d-bag to trans people -Carmen Carrera’s Quest to Become a Victoria’s Secret Angel;‘Orange is the New Black’s’ Laverne Cox
In the clips above, Katie interviews Carmen Carrera and keeps trying to talk about Carmen’s genitals even though she expresses her desire not to and steers the conversation towards topics she feels are more appropriate, such as her career and life goals. Couric does not stop until Laverne Cox steps in, informing Couric that, “the preoccupation with transition and with surgery objectifies trans people.” Yay Laverne! Can’t wait for season 2 of OINTNB.
It is quite clear that Couric’s motive for inviting Carmen on the show was to sensationalize her transition. She did not seem to have a genuine interest in her as a person.
Jan 21, 2014
My mother called me this morning to tell me to be careful. She told me not to admit my affiliation with the LGBTQ community to any of my countrymen for fear of what they might do to me upon my return. You see, my country, Nigeria, has taken it upon itself to pass a law that sentences anyone who is found to be LGBTQ, to 14 years in prison. There had been chatter about this law for a long time now, and now that it has finally been passed, it makes me really angry.
“Why not take it a step further and impose the death sentence on all LGBTQ people like Uganda?”, I want to say. You want to lock people’s children up in prison for being true to the feelings they have for their fellow human beings. Shame on you. How is it anyones business what LGBTQ people do? How do they affect your marriages? Families? Children? How can you decide to police people because you don’t agree with their choices?
My countrymen claim that “homo” as they call it, is a western influence. That it is a phenomenon that did not occur before the west, America in particular, allowed LGBTQ people to be treated like human beings. To that I say, if you want to reject everything western, reject the religion that you are now using to persecute LGBTQ people. Our forefathers did not wake up one day with the knowledge that there was a God who had a son called Jesus through a virgin called Mary. That God was brought to us from the west. I can speak to that truth because my great-grandfather is widely known to be the man responsible for bringing Christianity to the part of the country we are from.
Before the missionaries, your forefathers prayed to Amadioha, Sango, Chukwu and the rest. Forsake your saints and biblical heroes and go back to praying at altars and sacred trees. Go back to a time when twins were an abomination. When you have done that and you can still find evidence from your gods that LGBTQ people deserve to be treated any different from you, come back and we’ll talk.
It’s so infuriating to see a bunch of people who can’t even get it together long enough to pass the HIV/AIDS Anti-Stigmatization Bill, rally around and pass this hate-driven policy so easily. Trust us to be the epitome of nonsensical politics.
My heart goes out to all my friends and the people I know who will now have to live in fear or who are probably already facing tribunal. My country can be a cruel place and people will not wait for the “justice system” before they begin to drag these people out into the streets to beat them senseless, if not kill them.
Dec 29, 2013
I did not envision myself to be someone who finds so much enjoyment out of preparing a homemade dinner for when a significant other comes home from work. But more than that, I’m finding happiness with my cooking. Part of my journey to reconnect with my culture is making the meals that are inspired by my ancestors. It’s not enough to re-learn the language and symbols and meanings that were mostly erased in my assimilation to the white culture I sought because of internalized racism. I want to know the taste of my parents’ country and history.
Tonight’s dinner is banh cuon (Vietnamese steamed rice crepes) with pan seared salmon, all lightly dressed with a homemade sweet soy sauce.
I originally posted this on my personal Tumblr blog: hannahology.
I’m contemplating doing a Vietnamese food blog as a way of recording my journey towards a reconnection with my culture. For now, just re-learning everything I’ve lost is the main goal. Positive and healing thoughts and actions with a yummy bonus.
Dec 28, 2013
One year has passed since the high profile case in which a Delhi woman was raped and murdered. The case resulted in many changes in India, the most notable being more strict laws that doubled the prison terms for sexual assault, voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks, and trafficking. In addition, the minimum sentence for rape cases has increased to 20 years and the death penalty is now a possibility for cases in which death occurs.
It is exciting to see what local movements have achieved in a year, but as mainstream media rallies around this story, here are some points to keep in mind:
- India is not the only country where rape is a problem. While the highest number of cases were reported in the US and India between 2004 and 2010, these numbers are complicated. They are a mere fraction of the number of estimated cases by the CDC and US Justice Department and are not calculated based on population density. Looking at population density figures, there are dozens of nations with more reported cases than India. Sexual assault is not a problem unique to India. 
- Similarly, it is easy as outsiders to view Indian culture and life solely through this event and the response surrounding it. There are many positive, vibrant aspects of India and we cannot erase those out of our frustrations or cast stereotypes centered on violence onto an entire nation.
- This past year should not be marked as the year India ended all indifferent to rape. While the story of the urban woman who worked her way through college spurred outrage through its relatability, organizing around sexual assault has been happening for years. There are many established advocates and individuals who work on this issue. One of these groups is the Red Brigade, who patrol streets in groups and confront perpetrators. 
Nov 13, 2013
I feel super guilty, its been like forever! However, I am here again. Ready to let the world hear my voice, but for now I guess they’ll see the power through words.
“Everyone, as a member of society… is entitled to realization… of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his [or her] dignity.”
— Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 22
Daily, people all over the world are suffering because of their lack and the government complete disregard for the rights these people are entitled to. Having a passion for humanity is not easily developed. In truth, you have to be willing to stand and be that anomaly in society. This is why I urge you people (pardon my informality) to join Amnesty International’s Demand Dignity Campaign.
Throughout this act, you are able to fight for economic, social and cultural rights.
Life is worth the hassle and pressure.
Oct 24, 2013
Superheroines like the Black Widow, Wonder Woman, Storm and Jean Grey to fight other fictional villains who occasionally plague the human citizens of the world. But who will fight the infuriatingly realistic battles against misogyny, sexism and the like? Enter the Burka Avenger!
I came across this comic on Tumblr. As you can tell, it’s pretty terrific! The heroine’s name is Qahera and she goes around taking names and kicking the butts of those who dare to treat Muslim women as though they cannot speak for themselves.
Not surprisingly, FEMEN, the subject of the comic above, posted it on their site along with the following commentary,
New Islamic oppressive propaganda creation realized in comics was proposed to the public recently.The Muslim superhero Deena Mohammed’s Qahera who is burka-clad superhero who aims to destroy “all the ridiculous dehumanising stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed and helpless.”
In one of the comic the burqa superhero lashes out against FEMEN activists, the topless female protestors. Says Deena: “I absolutely dislike their ideologies. I think they represent a significant mentality that only recognises a certain form of liberation (their own); along with dehumanising Muslim women and reaffirming colonial white-saviour attitudes.”
Well, FEMEN is proud to be in opposition to some oppressive Islamic traditions, such as covering women with burqa. Such comic is an alarm to the world to stand up. Even in painted comics they leave to women inly eyes, covering her body completely. Burqa can’t be a choice of women until in many countries of the world women are obliged to cover themselves being threaten for punishment instead. Woman is not “a sac of shame”! Islam is not a source of morality but source of oppression and violence!
Talk about missing the point entirely.
A Muslim woman has made this fantastic comic detailing FEMEN’s problematic nature and the organization responds by calling it oppressive islamic propaganda. If the women you profess to be liberating say they don’t want or need to be liberated, who exactly do they think they’re fighting for by refusing to see truth and forging forward? Seriously, FEMEN is bordering on PETA-esque behavior. Runway incident anyone? It’s pretty disgusting really.
Oct 11, 2013
Malala Yousafzai, along with her father, are education activists in Pakistan striving to end educational inequality despite the institutional oppressions put in place. When the story of Malala’s assassination attempt by the Taliban made news about a year ago, this was the next the shot heard around the world. Hundreds of journalists and bloggers wrote about her involvement in girl’s education and the role of the Taliban. Fundraisers and sponsorships emerged for South Asian education development for girls, making this a prime example of consumer capitalism on a structural issue of educational inequality in Pakistan (1). Fortunately, this girl survived and made a steady recovery. She has wowed the world with her resilience, and for that, I am honored, especially from the lens of another South Asian Muslim woman.
However, her success doesn’t come with scrutiny. I’m not surprised that she gained so much fame as a result of a vicious attack by Pakistani Muslim extremist men. I’m no stranger to the way the media covered the story and perceptions of Pakistani Muslim men in general, and nothing will be the same post 9/11 for Arab, Middle Eastern, South Asian, or Muslim (AMEMSA) men (2). They are always deemed as “barbaric, savage, and backwards,” words frequently used to describe them and other men of color and the atrocities they do without a mention of the harm inflicted on women of color bodies by white men via imperialism, colonialism, and sexual violence (3, 4).
Yet, my hope for Malala is that the Western gaze will not impede her goals with their “peaceful” interventions or continue to deem the Global South as a hindrance to gender equality. I hope she can overcome the oppressions instilled in these countries by the Western world and current policies affecting women of color bodies (3, 5). As Malala said on the Today Show with Jon Stewart, “we don’t understand the importance of anything unless it’s snatched from our hands.” (6) Now is the time to understand the complexities of social oppression and its influences on the security of women of color everywhere.
Sep 11, 2013
Tune into any news channel and you will probably hear “Syria” within a minute. The talking heads are covering the security implications of the civil war and the alleged use of chemical weapons has prompted a moral and human rights debate. However, largely absent from public debate is a discussion about the basic health needs of Syrians and the international community’s role in ensuring those rights. WHO has declared the situation as a “Grade 3” emergency, the highest alert level. Grade 3 describes an event “with substantial public health consequences that requires international response”. 
As of this month, estimates predict that there are over 1.8 million registered refugees and over 2 million persons of concern. In addition, the UN estimates that at least 5 million Syrians have been internally displaced. [2, 3] While it is difficult to sum up the experiences of the displaced persons, a logical assumption is that their quality of life has changed, including their access to healthcare. Syria’s health care system receives little funding from the state and thus is largely decentralized and functions of the village, district, and provincial level. Even if displaced persons did not have institutional or comprehensive health care in their place of origin, their process of receiving care has been disrupted, and often, compromised.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but factors influencing the change in health care access include:
- Health facilities have been targets and many providers have been killed and facilities destroyed.
- Transportation systems have been damaged, making it difficult to access care providers.
- If displaced persons previously had a provider they regularly saw, their patient-doctor relationship has been disrupted.
- Internationally subsidized programs such as clinics and refugee camps run by the UNHCR often provide basic services for free, however, some more advanced services are not. Many displaced persons do not have access to all of their resources, making affording some procedures and medicines impossible.
- Syrians who were receiving some form of schooling prior to the civil war might no longer be. While data is limited, some students are educated on how to lead healthy lives through their schooling.
In addition, inside of Syria the health care system is in decline due to the collapse of the Syrian pound and state instability. Pharmacies, including ones in Damascus, are facing shortages and substantial price increases in many medicines including children’s milk.  Lack of access to necessary medicines can harm children’s development.
There has been progress in several Millennium Development Goals areas in Syria. Between 1970 and 2009, infant mortality dropped from 132 per 1000 live births to 17.9 per 100, and maternal mortality fell from 482 per 100,000 live births to 52 per 100,000.  While it is still soon to tell, the inaccessibility to health systems might have a negative impact on these trends. Let us hope that the international community will consider these issues as much as security and diplomatic ones.
Sep 10, 2013
Last week, we told you about young people gathering signatures in support of sex education, and asked you to support their efforts. And because you’re awesome, you came through: on October 1 youth activists will deliver over 4,000 signatures to Congress! Now we need your help again.
Joining us at this year’s Urban Retreat youth activism conference, are youth participants from Uganda, Nigeria, Nepal, Jamaica, Cameroon, and Liberia. They too have been hard at work organizing – in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth around the world.
We’ve all seen and read about the continuation of violence and harassment targeting LGBT people across the globe. In countries like Uganda, Nigeria, and Russia, laws force young people to choose between concealing who they are, and going to jail. While in Cameroon and Jamaica, violence has saddened and shaken the LGBT community.
These recent events highlight the need for a commitment by the State Department to ensure that all young people, especially those marginalized for their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, are treated with human dignity and respect.
Advocates’ global youth activists are calling out for Sec. Kerry to publicly condemn anti-LGBT violence and discrimination around the world, and to ensure LGBT inclusion in U.S. foreign assistance and education programs.
The United States can make a real difference in how LGBT youth around the world are treated. Show your support for youth activists around the world and sign now.
Aug 24, 2013
Having spent 9 days in Montevideo, it is safe to say mission accomplished!
The first regional conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean hosted by ECLAC was held in the historic Uruguayan capital, Montevideo. Though at this time I have mixed feelings (relief, disappointment, satisfaction, a bit of annoyance, etc..) related to the views held be some countries on the issues of concern, I am really happy to have had the opportunity to be there.
Well here’s the story. My journey to Uruguay began in April 2012 having had the opportunity to attend the 45th session of the Commission on Population and Development at the UN headquarters in New York. Following that event I participated in the Latin America and the Caribbean’s regional meeting of the committee (ECLAC) in July 2012 in Ecuador. It was at this meeting that the decision was made to upgrade the event from an ordinary meeting of the committee to a conference. I say this to highlight that this “first conference” is a continuation of/related to the regional process that has been ongoing since the ICPD agreement in 1994.
So here I am today putting into words a few of my thoughts about the processes of those past 9 days. My trip to Uruguay began from my home country, Jamaica. As a member of the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network and the CatchAFyah Caribbean Feminist Movement I was invited by DAWN and IWHC as an advocate and civil society representative to attend this important regional meeting on population and development. Following 2 intense days of pre-conference advocacy training I ventured into the conference with mixed expectations. What were my expectations you may ask? Well, having had the experience of the 2 previous meetings I was a bit disheartened nonetheless I tried to remain cautiously optimistic. My optimism was inspired by the dedication and passion of those around me and even further by the large number of civil society participants on a whole who were engaged in the process (ECLAC cites it has one of the largest intergovernmental meetings in the region in recent years). Given the expansion of the commission into a conference the greater participation from civil society was facilitated. This process I believe might have had significant impact on the consensus document, and rightly so. I was especially pleased to see more young people within this space, especially from the English speaking Caribbean.
Furthermore, the conference space could be described as somewhat welcoming while the contents of the discussions could be viewed as interesting and largely realistic. I was most impressed by the progress and stance of countries such as Uruguay and Ecuador which have made great progress towards the recognition of people’s SRHR especially so with issues of abortion and gender equality. Generally speaking, having had the opportunity to listen to all the country reports and panel discussions I must admit I am concerned about the progress of the Caribbean countries relative to that being made in Latin America. Our governments’ conservative and might I even say regressive stance on some issues are what has brought on my feelings of disappointment and annoyance. Why do we continue take positions and to implement policies and programs that are not in keeping with our citizens realities and basic human rights? As obvious as the answers might be the thought of the level of disregard it takes simply angers me! Nonetheless, I choose to remain optimistic as I continue to observe that change is possible and will come, even if it takes much longer that we would hope. For instance, in this conference, after so many years, El Salvador withdrew its reservations on the ICPD programme of action.
With that said I am without a doubt highly interested (as you should be too) and somewhat optimistic about what outcomes will be achieved in New York next year. For sure I would love the opportunity to participate in this Cairo+20 review process especially given its implications for youth and women’s SRHR. Let’s all keep an eye on this very important space/meeting.
So before I conclude I must encourage you all to take a look at this Montevideo consensus document (http://www.cepal.org/celade/noticias/documentosdetrabajo/9/50709/2013-596-montevideo_consensus_pyd.pdf). Though not ideal in all its content, it can definitely be view as a step in the right direction.
Slowly but surely we are getting there….
Aug 8, 2013
Every August 12, the world celebrates International Youth Day. This year’s theme is “Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward.” As advocates dedicated to advancing the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people, you might be asking, what’s migration got to do with SRHR? Well, just about everything.
Nearly half of the world’s population—more than 3 billion people—is under the age of 25. Furthermore, young people under the age of 29 make up half of all global migrants. During the process of migration, young women and girls tend to be more vulnerable to human rights violations, particularly SRHR violations, including violence, exploitation, and sexual coercion. Moreover, migrant women and young people are also at increased risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections due to inadequate access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health services. As a result, ensuring that young migrants have access to SRHR information and services as well as the full protection and promotion of their human rights is absolutely critical.
As the largest donor of foreign assistance, the United States government plays a unique role in delivering global health programs around the world. That’s why this Monday at 9:30am EST, the State Department’s Special Advisor for Global Youth Issues, Zeenat Rahman, will be hosting a Google Hangout with other US government officials to discuss this year’s International Youth Day theme. As the US government’s lead spokesperson on youth issues, Ms. Rahman is a key stakeholder in ensuring that the US prioritizes youth policies and programs throughout the government’s work. To date, the Office of Global Youth Issues has focused almost exclusively on youth employment and civic engagement. While vitally important priorities, what is so often overlooked is how adolescent and youth SRHR contributes to one’s ability to seek and maintain employment and meaningfully engage in the democratic process. Regardless of where we live, we all have the right to speak up and hold our government officials accountable for providing young people with ALL the resources they need to lead healthy and successful lives, including rights-based, comprehensive, integrated, and youth-friendly information and services.
So, what can you do to celebrate International Youth Day? TONS! Here’s just a sampling of ideas. Get creative! And share your ideas and enthusiasm with your friends and colleagues.
- Participate in the State Department’s Google Hangout on Monday at 9:30am EST and submit a question (or 2 or 3!) via Twitter using #IYD2013 asking what the US is currently doing to support young people’s SRHR needs, your ideas for how and why they should be doing more, etc.
- Watch the United Nations’ celebration of International Youth Day live Monday from 10:00-13:30 EST.
- Use the sample tweets and Facebook status updates below to raise awareness among your peers and followers about the importance of young people’s SRHR.
- Host a community event, forum, or campaign in support of young people’s SRHR.
- Engage with coalitions or organizations working in your community to advance young people’s rights and well-being.
- Request a meeting with community leaders and/or decision-makers to inform them about the importance of investing in young people and ensuring that they have the information and services to lead healthy lives.
- Blog on Advocates’ youth activist website, www.amplifyyourvoice.org, and write about why you think International Youth Day is important, how you and your peers are making a difference in your community, or what you think policymakers and leaders need to be doing to support young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in your country.
Twitter Targets: Use these twitter handles, as appropriate, to send tweets from the list below
- UN Youth Envoy – @AhmadAlhendawi
- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon- @secgen
- US Mission to the UN – @USUN
- Secretary of State Kerry – @JohnKerry; @StateDept
- US Ambassador to UN, Samantha Power – @AmbassadorPower
- Your own country’s UN representatives
- Your own country’s Foreign Minister
Sample Twitter Messages:
- Gov’ts must include youth in design, monitoring & evaluation of youth development programs #IYD2013
- We must engage boys & men to help girls & women promote gender equality #IYD2013
- Invest in the whole girl w/ approaches that address sexual and reproductive health, education, livelihoods, and civic engagement #IYD2013
- Gov’ts must implement comprehensive sexuality education programs and policies for adolescents and youth #IYD2013
- Gov’ts must increase funding 4 family planning 4 married and unmarried adolescent girls #IYD2013
- Sexual & #reprorights are #humanrights: #post2015 agenda must include access to contraception, abortion & safe maternity care #IYD2013
- Empowering women and girls is key to achieving peace & security in #post2015 agenda #IYD2013
- More than ½ world’s population is under 25; young people must drive #Post2015 agenda #IYD2013
- Gov’ts must prioritize support 4 adolescents so we can prevent #childmarriage, maternal mortality, #GBV #IYD2013
- Girls who stay in school have better sexual and repro health outcomes. #Education is a human right. #IYD2013
- Development programs must address violence against adolescent girls, including intimate partner violence #GBV #VAWG #IPV #IYD2013
Sample Facebook Posts:
- Today is International Youth Day. The implementation of human-rights based policies and programs are important to ensure integrated and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services are free from coercion, discrimination, and violence. http://icpdbeyond2014.org/uploads/browser/files/bali_global_youth_forum_declaration.pdf
- Today is International Youth Day. Youth are disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic, accounting for 41% of all new HIV infections worldwide. Reaching young people with evidence-based HIV prevention approaches before and after they are sexually active ensures their right to health and prevents HIV infections today and for the next generation.
Aug 8, 2013
I had little knowledge about sexual and reproductive health before my internship in Advocates for Youth. To get more information on sexual and reproductive health related issues, I have been reading blogs from a previous Chinese intern, and here are my thoughts on some of the content related to the gay community in China.
The intern mentioned that her family does not support her work 100% because the Chinese culture can be conservative. That’s so true! For example, the other day, I was talking to my friends about the internship I am doing at Advocates, and we talked about the gay friends we know. Because my two friends come from the same university, they exchanged information and they were really in shock when they came to know that someone they knew is gay. I was deep in thought after this conversation. My friends think they are open enough and they strive for basic human rights. They think that because they come from good college, have gained a good education, are from big cities and know a lot about the gay and transgender communities, that they can accept them and be kind. However, when we find out that someone we know is gay, we are surprised. We talk about it. We gossip. We dig out his boyfriend. We think we can accept it and be cool, but we cannot.
I have seen a documentary called “Analyzing Chinese Gays” (translation of the title by the author) that details the experiences of Chinese gay folks who want to marry heterosexuals because of the pressure from their families, communities and society. This is sad because I am not sure if any of the parties will be happy in this kind of marriage? Unfortunately, this was the destiny of many in old China, and sadly, this situation continues. Many parents still think that their child’s sexual orientation can be changed through heterosexual marriage or psychological guidance. They think they can understand “homosexuality” as a social phenomenon, but they cannot accept their own child as gay.
One parent in the organization named PFLAG China (Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays ) that provides support to parents of LGBTQ people in China mentioned that she has been through several stages to eventually accept her gay son, from first passively accepting the identity of her son to full acceptance and from then to eventually volunteer and help other parents. She said that the gay community in China should first accept themselves and after “coming out of the closet”, they can give more guidance and care to their parents.
According to a documentary called “Charity China: PFLAG China” (translation of the title by the author) the gay community is around 4% -5% of the population in China, which adds up to 60 million people! Gay marriage is not allowed in China but many in the gay community are speaking up for their rights. Some have also managed to hold engagement ceremonies and get blessings from families. Promotion for legalizing gay marriage is also on many organizations’ agenda. The socialist Yinhe Li submitted a proposal for same-sex marriage in the National People’s Congress and the Chinese Political Consultative Conference. However, she did not get 30 signatures of representatives, so the proposal cannot be formally deliberated.
I really believe we will pass laws on gay marriage sooner or later, and hopefully it will be a national law, not just for one province or district. The sooner it comes, the better our communities will be.
Aug 2, 2013
The other day I attended a “Too Young to Wed” briefing, which was very impressive and instructive. The briefing was held in Russell Office Building by The United Nations Foundation, The Ford Foundation and Girls Not Brides. The panelists illustrated the issues in a way that was easy to understand and detailed true stories of the impact of early marriage. The panelists also talked about ways to reduce early marriage in many developing countries.
Stephanie Sinclair, who is a Pulitzer Prize Winning photographer, presented us with many undiscovered customs and stories regarding early marriage. I was surprised to find that one in three girls in low and middle-income countries (excluding China) will marry before 18 and about 5 million girls under 15 years old marry each year.
There are many reasons for early marriage. Some families think that blessings will come upon them if they marry off their girls before their first menstruation. Some families marry their daughters because they are poor and cannot afford to raise the girls. Some can get benefits from marrying their daughters to powerful or rich families.
Apart from the reasons I just mentioned, what also struck me was that some marriages are not just about the couple, but a coalition of two families. So no matter how young the daughter is, she can get engaged due to her parents’ choice. Some girls are pulled out of school immediately after engagement and some wait until their first menstruation to go to the grooms’ home. However, some can still go to school and get a good education before puberty.
To our relief, there are also some successful cases of girls resisting marriage or seeking divorce. For example, there is the amazing story of a 10 year old Yemeni girl named Nujood Ali who accused her middle-aged husband of rape. According to Yemeni law the minimum age of marriage for both boys and girls is 17.The accusation was a success. Nujood got divorced and returned to school. The other story is of Nada Al-Ahdal, an 11-year-old Yemeni girl who fled to her uncle to escape an arranged marriage and filed a complaint to the police against her parents. Now she will be living with her uncle permanently.
Many organizations in USA as well as in local communities are also trying to address the issue of early marriage. The research by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) shows that the programs on child marriage basically cover five aspects: information support for girls, educating parents and communities, enhancing education, offering economic support and legislation. In the briefing, Priya Nanda, who is the Director, Social and Economic Development Group, ICRW’s Asia Regional Office mentioned that we should educate boys, girls and families at the same time. The problem in the community cannot be caused by one parent, nor it can be solved easily by educating the girls to resist early marriage and protect themselves. It is the community awareness and sensibility that we should try to address in a wholistic way.
In China, early marriage is not a problem as far as I know. The legal marriage age in China is 22 for men and 20 for women from the updated marriage law in 1980. China has gone through many stages in terms of marriage, from polygamy to monogamy, from conservative Chinese way of writing a letter to end a marriage to legalizing divorce. In 1980, revised marriage law stated that “No marriage may be contracted before the man has reached 22 years of age and the woman 20 years of age. Late marriage and late childbirth shall be encouraged.” Also, the one-child policy was introduced in 1980 which tremendously changed the population trend and family structure of China. The average marriage age of women in China has risen from 22 in 1990 to 32.3 in 2013. We can also see a drop in the percent of married women in 15-19 years old from 4.63% to 1.21% in 2000. I am happy that early marriage is not a major problem in China now because of economic growth, legislation and education, and I do hope the situation can be improved in Yemen and many other countries through efforts all over the world.
Aug 1, 2013
I really hate when people respond to others with “first world problems.” I know that to some, it’s a great and easy way of addressing the privilege of living in a “first world” country. But the meme, despite its emergence being seemingly well intentioned at first, is really just seeping with ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism in its simplest definition is the judging of another’s culture using one’s own standards. It’s not something you’d expect from a culturally competent person. The usage of this meme expresses people’s inability to see others as actual people who are more complicated than what our white savior complex induced perspectives would have us believe.
To make it really simple: it’s racist.
When the ever popular hashtag first appeared on Twitter maybe in the late 2009, early 2010–even then I had a bad feeling about it. I know “first world/third world” indicates if a country is industrialized and developed or not. But even those terms just come off as problematic and ethnocentric for reasons I won’t take the time to get into. It’s the language we have though, however questionable the origins of those particular words may be. And I don’t really know what I can do about that except talk about it and hope that you understand.
Yes, my accidental lagging out of my online match of The Last of Us and my tea latte being a little too hot this morning might seem really trivial. But hey, guess what? Things like that happen to my cousins in Vietnam and other developing countries too. I’m not pretending or ignoring that other countries don’t have terrible issues like civil wars, riots in the streets, famine, etc. But those countries don’t need pity. And they certainly don’t need people buying Toms. They need people, especially people in the United States and other supposedly wealthy white-dominated countries, to stop making everyone from “third world” countries into a faceless,
one-dimensional, and monolithic group of suffering and despair. And one of the really easy ways of what you can do to avoid doing that is to stop responding to people’s issues as “first world problems.”
My voice isn’t alone in this. Feel free to check out the following links:
What’s Wrong with #FirstWorldProblems? – Alexis C. Madrigal
The White Savior Industrial Complex – Teju Cole
Jul 31, 2013
When we hear about politicians making unqualified and uneducated statements about abortion and reproductive/sexual health, we just shake our heads, asking ourselves and our peers, “How does someone like that get into office?”
Not to diminish your faith in humanity, but less than a couple weeks ago, Brian Nieves, a Republican state senator of Missouri, commented in a Facebook argument to a pro-choice priest, “‘Life of the Mother?’ Your own argument proves it is a matter of convenience!” State senator Brian Nieves later denied that he said this. But the denial wouldn’t do him any good since his comments have been screencapped and the comment is still on the Facebook page.
There are people who treat this like it’s an isolated incident. Like it’s nothing to worry about, but you’d have to imagine the kind of culture it takes to condition people to be able to say these things. You don’t even have to imagine because that’s the culture we’re living in. It’s not just one old, white male politician. It’s several. And they’re not necessarily always white men.
Brace yourself. This is pretty triggering.
“These Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness…We are not going to have our men become subservient.”
— Florida Rep. Allen West expresses a clear understanding of how oppression and privilege works.
“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”
— Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, discussing why there shouldn’t be a rape or incest exception in bills restricting reproductive health care because clearly she understands how health care works.
“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.” —Richard Mourdock, an Indiana state senator candidate who fortunately did not win.
“Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.”
—Joe Walsh, former Illinois congressman revealing just how “pro-life” he really is.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
—Missouri Representative Todd Akin basically sharing how much he doesn’t know about a female body in one terrible sentence.
“The facts show that people who are raped —who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”
—former North Carolina Rep. Henry Aldridge using imaginary doctors as his sources.
“As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
—Clayton Williams regarding rape, he was a former Texas Republican gubernatorial contender and a past fundraiser for John McCain.
This is one of the many reasons why I’m in total support of Advocates for Youth. The politicians I’ve listed are the kind of people who have been supporting legislation that not only hurts people who need abortions, but rape victims and teens in desperate need of comprehensive sex education. It hurts people who need access to contraception, affordable health care, and everything else a person would need to live a quality life. And it’s not going to stop until we change the culture and institutions that allows it to happen. So, we advocate for the youth. We have a responsibility to them to ensure that they have their rights and are to be respected.
Jul 23, 2013
Young sexual and reproductive rights advocates continue to push for the full integration of a rights-based approach in relation to advancing population and development goals. That was the overarching message of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Regional Youth Summit.
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, where activists representing over 40 international organizations gathered and developed a Call to Action, ensuring young people sexual and reproductive rights continue to be integrated in development agendas.
The summit brought together a diverse group of 40 young people from Eastern Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel (EECARO region), to discuss and develop priority goals. During the summit, we organized ourselves into three sessions based on interest and expertise
- Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development,
- Families, Sexual and Reproductive Health over the Life Course,
- Inequalities, Social Inclusion and Rights.
After lengthy conversations, each group came up with a number of recommendations to share with the entire forum for us all to debate and finalize. The culmination of our work was translated into a solid document that represents what the youth from the EECARO region want elected officials and leaders to take into consideration. You can access the full document here.
The outcome of the summit embodied the youth vision and development priorities for the region over the next decade and was presented at the Regional Conference in Geneva. Fifteen delegates from our group (bearing in mind equal representation) attended the Geneva Conference and shared our declaration (Youth Call to Action). The speech, delivered by Grace Wilentz from YouAct (European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights) and Jakub Skrzypczyk from Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights can be found here.
On a personal note, I had a great time interacting with all the youth participants at the Regional Youth Forum and learning more about the EECARO region. It became clearer to me that the same sexual and reproductive health and rights issues we are advocating for in the US are found in other parts of the world. I was happy to discover that we are not alone in this battle. Young people from all over the world are rising up to the challenge, demanding greater youth representation in world affairs and better human rights conditions for all.
About United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA)
Tasked with the mission of delivering “a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” UNFPA is a UN organization whose efforts are guided by two main frameworks, 1) the Program of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and 2) the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which are eight targets to reduce extreme poverty by 2015.
With the date for achieving these goals fast approaching, UNFPA and its partners, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), have been working together to ramp up their efforts. UNFPA and UNECE have been involved in the Beyond 2014 Review, an effort to engage world leaders from governments and civil society in drafting a new global commitment to create a more equal and more sustainable world.
The ICPD Operational Review has been taking place as part of the Beyond 2014 Review, and UNFPA and UNECE have been facilitating this process. Within this process, UNFPA and UNECE organized three thematic meetings on the following topics:
- “Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development”,
- “Reducing Inequities, Fostering Social Inclusion” and
- “Life Course, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Families”.
As a culminating event, the agencies planned for a two-day Regional Conference entitled “Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century,” which was just held in Geneva (1-2 July), gathering leaders from all over the EECARO region (Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel).
Young people are at the core of the UNFPA’s mandate, offering an essential voice to help shape the future development agenda. Therefore, young people have participated in the operational review at the country level and in all the thematic meetings mentioned above. In order to continue their involvement, UNFPA EECARO has organized the Regional Youth Forum in Istanbul (30-31 May) and in which I participated, representing Advocates for Youth and the US at large.
Jul 22, 2013
Latin America is home to five of the seven countries in the world in which abortion is banned in all instances, even when the life of the woman is at risk: Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, with the Vatican City and Malta outside the region.
Jul 10, 2013
The video below is about a wonderful movement I found called Everyday Sexism. Started by Laura Bates after she experienced a crippling instant of sexual harassment, it aims to combat the WHOPPING LIE that we as a society, have achieved gender equality. Women are constantly dismissed and told that we are being too sensitive. If we are raped, of course we asked for it. If we want control over our bodies, we are sluts and murderers. If we want to be treated like actual human beings, then we are accused of having a “political agenda”.
The stories told by these women are ghastly. It’s so disgusting that there are people out there who think they have every right to make such lewd advances.
If you have a story, share it here. Add your voice to the all the others and keep shouting back.
DESTROY. THE. PATRIARCHY!!!
Jul 3, 2013
Amidst mass protests in Egypt over the past week, reports are emerging that dozens of women have been sexually assaulted. So far there have been 91 reported instances of harassment, assault, or rape according to Human Rights Watch. The number is estimated to be much higher, for a known global phenomenon is that most survivors do not ever report assault or rape.
Some believe these attacks have been executed to discourage women from joining the protests, while others believe attackers hope to benefit from the chaos and lawlessness the protests have created. We could point fingers all day at everything from Egypt’s unaccountable justice system to a patriarchal culture to the attackers themselves, and yet these attacks are still happening.
Sexual assaults not only hurt those who are attacked; they hurt families, cities, and nations. Women who are afraid to enter public spaces are stripped from their right to engage with civil society. Strategically isolating women “from fully participating in the public life of Egypt at a critical point in the country’s development” devoids Egypt of potential organizers, activists and leaders.
Despite the incorrigible assaults, Egyptians are firmly sending a message to attackers. Photos from Tahrir Square depict a buffer zone between male and female protestors. The Associate Press believes this is to create an intentional human shield. While I am a bit wary of this tactic, I applaud protestors for taking action on the ground.
Jul 2, 2013
AP: Ireland’s lawmakers voted 138-24 to back a bill legalizing abortions in life-threatening cases. The proposed law faces final passage next week.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny easily prevailed as he sought all-party endorsement of his government’s Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
Ireland, almost uniquely in Europe, officially bans abortion in all circumstances. But the Supreme Court in 1992 ruled that terminations should be legal if doctors deem one essential to safeguard the life of the woman — including from her own suicide threats.
Photo: This Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 file photo shows abortion rights protesters holding pictures of Savita Halappanavar as they march through central Dublin, demanding that Ireland’s government ensures that abortions can be performed to save a woman’s life. (Shawn Pogatchnik / AP file)
Jul 2, 2013
At the Abuja +12 summit (Civil society organisation side event) organised by AIDS Health care Foundation(AHF) – Country ownership and sustainability of Health sector in Africa.
Advocates as Activist: the ten commandment of Activism. 1. Facts not hearsays 2. Donot compromise 3. Donot cheat 4. Seek rights not privileges 5. There is power in numbers – get allies/champions … 6. Develop an alternative plan 7. Always address systems and issues not person/individuals (because even an angel would fail within a bad system) 8. Be consistent and focused (always clarify goals and objectives) 9. Be outspoken (mumurers never made it to the promise land) 10. Plan, plan and keep planning
(Obatunde Oladapo National Coordinator TAM)
Jun 24, 2013
I am Siyu Zhang and I have been working at Advocates for Youth for a week. I am 20 years old now and I spent my first 18 years in a small city Hengshui, which is in the north part of China. I currently study in City University of Hong Kong and feel grateful for getting into a university in Hong Kong because it enables me to get an international view point and look at China and the world in an open and objective way. This is technically my first internship but I have been helping in a non-profit organization Technology & Education: Connecting Cultures (TECC) as well as a university organization called City Youth Empowerment Project. You can google it if you are interested in volunteering in mainland China because TECC also recruits volunteers from the U.S.
Coming to America to intern for 2 months is just an accidental opportunity. I saw the ad from Cultural Vistas to recruit participants for this exchange opportunity in our university career center and I was interested! I am glad that Advocates for Youth selected me because I am interested in the issues I have been informed of so far and people around me are all welcoming and kind!
Although this is my first week, I am overwhelmed with tons of information about reproductive and sexual health information. The first day I spent two hours listening to a panel discussion about LGBTQ issue when I did not even know what LGBTQ meant! However, I am excited to learn about all this stuff, about LGBTQ youth, about abortion, about fighting HIV and AIDS.
These issues are around my life, in China, but I have seldom bothered to look at these issues deeply, and I don’t have access to adequate resources. I noticed that Advocates for Youth has a research center on its website, which collects all kinds of information involving sexual and reproductive health. I am also learning from other channels such as facebook and the blogging websites like Amplify.
I really appreciate the opportunity to have an internship at Advocates for Youth and seize the chance to learn about issues that needs attention back in China. I am learning about how students are dissemination information about sexual and reproductive health in universities and I think that that’s great! The culture in China is much too different and we tend to avoid talking about sex and health related issues. I know it is hard to change the culture and actually put everything on the table for discussion. However, I think websites related to this can be acceptable and helpful. Setting up with such kind of websites in Chinese would not be difficult using the information Advocates for Youth has. I would be happy if I can be of help in that aspect.
Jun 21, 2013
Jun 21, 2013
“ It is no mistake, and it is not mere happenstance, that Lifetime refused to allow me to make a show for them about complex, nuanced Latinas, yet greenlit a show about Latinas as sexy domestic servants. It isn’t a matter of me being too sensitive and lacking a sense of humor, and it isn’t a matter of me not liking maids. It is about the way the Latina maid stereotype beautifully cleaves to the time-honored imperialistic way this country has dealt with its Spanish-speaking neighbors in the Americas. My vision of us – as autonomous human beings – is simply too threatening to be considered realistic.”
Jun 21, 2013
This week, we celebrated the tenth and final week of 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, a social media campaign mobilizing mass support for policies and programs that enable women and girls around the world to be healthy, empowered, educated, and safe. Spearheaded by our friends at the International Women’s Health Coalition, and supported by hundreds of advocacy organizations around the world, the campaign focused on eight critical topics over the course of ten weeks:
- Ensuring quality education of women and girls;
- Putting women and girls at the center of the post-2015 global development agenda;
- Preventing violence against women and girls;
- Improving the health of women and girls;
- Ending early and forced marriage;
- Achieving peace and security for women and girls;
- Promoting economic empowerment of women and girls; and
- Protecting human rights and promoting leadership and participation of women and girls.
Each week, partners tweeted and posted on Facebook compelling facts, statistics, and policy asks to US government officials and other high-profile influentials in policy and media circles. The goal: push for a set of tangible, measurable, and specific policy actions the US government could take to support foreign policy efforts for women and girls.
Why the campaign and why now? On February 1, John Kerry took the reins from Hillary Clinton as US Secretary of State. As I laid out in this Politico piece, Kerry has HUGE shoes to fill in terms of advancing the rights of women, girls, and young people. We all wondered, just how would he fare? We needed a way to demonstrate our collective support for a continuation—and enhancement—of his predecessor’s policies and priorities. Thus was born the idea for the 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls.
To date, messages have reached millions of social media users, raising awareness of women’s and girls’ rights around the world. Many of these messages have even been retweeted by high-ranking officials representing the US government in negotiations for the post-2015 development agenda, as well as countless others.
The case for investing in women and girls has been made. NOW it is time for the US government to ACT! Advocates for Youth will do our part to continue to apply pressure on government officials to prioritize women and girls in all facets of US foreign policy. We’ll keep you posted as progress is achieved.
Jun 20, 2013
BREAKING NEWS: Today, the US Supreme Court ruled 6-2 that the Anti-Prostitution Pledge (or the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath—APLO) is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment’s free speech clause.
As way of background, the APLO is a provision in PEPFAR’s authorizing legislation (our global HIV/AIDS program) which requires NGOs receiving PEPFAR funds to explicitly oppose prostitution and sex trafficking as a condition of receiving those funds. The Court ruled that the government cannot do this because it requires NGOs to adopt the government’s viewpoint in violation of its free speech rights. “The Policy Requirement goes beyond preventing recipients from using private funds in a way that would undermine the federal program. It requires them to pledge allegiance to the Government’s policy of eradicating prostitution.” Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion ruling the policy unconstitutional and was joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, and Sotomayor.
Justice Scalia wrote a dissenting opinion which was joined by Justice Thomas. In their dissenting opinion, they stated that compelling the affirmation of a belief as a condition of funding is not compulsion, but “the reasonable price of admission to a limited government-spending program that each organization remains free to accept or reject.” In other words, if you don’t want to accept conditions on funding, don’t apply for the funding.
And, you’ll notice that the ruling was 6-2 so you’re probably wondering about the 9th Justice. Justice Kagan recused herself from the case because she was involved in the lower court decision.
The case was brought by the Alliance for Open Society International, Pathfinder International, the Global Health Council, and InterAction.
This is a VERY good day for US foreign policy advocates!
You can read the opinion here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-10_21p3.pdf
Jun 20, 2013
It’s Week 10, the last week of 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, a campaign to demonstrate mass support for policies and programs that will allow women and girls to be healthy, empowered, educated, and safe.
How can you get involved?
- Follow the conversation at #usa4women and use these sample tweets:
- #SecKerry @statedept The case for investing in women&girls has been made. Act NOW to improve the status of women&girls #usa4women #use4girls
- “All it takes is for [girls] to have a fighting chance.” -H. @ClintonNews. #SecKerry @StateDept #usa4girls http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/clinton-speaks-up-for-womens-issues/
- Share this Facebook post:
“In the last 50 days, we’ve provided a blueprint for U.S. government agencies to lead the charge for women and girls. It’s time to act!
During our 50 Days of Action campaign we’ve made the case that U.S. foreign policy must address the needs of women and girls around the world. We’re looking for U.S. government agencies to act now to ensure these needs are met.
White House, State Department, USAID: We’re looking for cross-agency collaboration between to act on an agenda that prioritizes women and girls.”
Jun 15, 2013
“Together we can end HIV stigma, but we need to be able to TALK ABOUT IT. Share this graphic to continue the conversation and encourage your network of friends to speak up!”
Jun 14, 2013
Success is in the student not in the university, greatness is in the individual, not in the library, power is in the MAN , not in his crutches. A Great Man will make Great opportunities even out of the commonest Situations..
Jun 13, 2013
It’s Week 9 of 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, a campaign to demonstrate mass support for policies and programs that will allow women and girls to be healthy, empowered, educated, and safe.
How can you get involved?
- Follow the conversation at #usa4women and use these sample tweets:
- “All it takes is for [girls] to have a fighting chance.” -H. @ClintonNews. #SecKerry @StateDept #usa4girls http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/clinton-speaks-up-for-womens-issues/
- Ending violence against women & girls key to achieving global peace. #SecKerry make this a @StateDept priority #usa4girls #usa4women #vaw
- Check out this resource: “Girls’ Voices, Girls’ Priorities: Participatory, Innovative Tools for Capturing Girls’ Realities and Understanding Changes in their Lives”
- Share this image!
Jun 12, 2013
A dangerous development in Myanmar is largely going unreported. Recently, local authorities announced their support for the enforcement of a two-child limit for Rohingya Muslims. While not an official policy of the central or state government, the policy has been implemented on a grass-roots level. The most recent public endorsement for this policy comes from Immigration Minister, Khin Yi who stated that Rohingya families of 10-12 children are “not good for child nutrition. It’s not very easy for schooling. It is not very easy to take care of the children.” While details of this discriminatory practice are recently reaching the international community, some believe this policy has been in effect for years, possibly decades.
This stateless, minority group primarily lives in one of Southeast Asia’s poorest regions, Rakhine state. They have been excluded from Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Act which recognizes 135 ethnic groups. Bangladesh has also disowned the Rohingyas and denied them refugee status, although they migrated from Bangladesh between 1824 and 1948. The two-child policy is aimed at controlling unrest between Buddhists (the majority in Myanmar) and Muslims. As a result of increasing violence, stricter policies have been placed on the Rohingyas, risking the spread of wider anti-Muslim sentiment. More worrisome is the belief that the child restriction is a form of ethnic cleansing.
Health experts fear this policy could encourage unsafe abortions in Myanmar, where abortion is illegal except in cases of maternal life. Women that already have two children who become pregnant might have an illegal abortion in order to avoid fines or incarceration. Vickie Hawkins, Deputy Head of Mission of Myanmar’s Doctors Without Borders divisionv often sees “Women coming in [the] clinics with infections and medical complications because they have had unsafe abortions”. Doctors Without Borders operate in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships where there are the largest Rohingya populations in the state. Journalists are not allowed to visit either town, making it difficult to access correct information and rally the international community behind this issue.
The UN and other human right organizations have condemned Myanmar’s unofficial policy, arguing it violates international law and harms women’s mental and physical health. While family planning is an issue that should involve both parents, this policy attacks women’s autonomy over their bodies. In addition, this ban circumscribes the construction of Myanmar Buddhist families onto the Rohingya population. Forcing cultural and ethnic norms onto groups has never worked and will only intensify the animosity between Myanmar’s populations.
Source: Reuter’s. “Myanmar Minister backs 2-child Policy for Rohingyas”
Jun 5, 2013
It’s Week 8 of 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, a campaign to demonstrate mass support for policies and programs that will allow women and girls to be healthy, empowered, educated, and safe.
How can you get involved?
- Follow the conversation at #usa4women and use these sample tweets:
- Girls in dev. countries need property & inheritance rights & livelihood skills 2 contribute 2 local economies. @USAID #globaldev #usa4girls
- Prevent violence against women & girls, which hinders their ability to thrive, violates their #humanrights. #usa4girls #gbv #vaw
- Check out this resource: Report: Chicago Council on Global Affairs: Girls Grow: A Vital Force in Rural Economies
- Share this image!
Jun 3, 2013
In an interview with the Guardian on June 2nd, actor Michael Douglas revealed that his throat cancer was caused by HPV (human papillomavirus). The stage four cancer was originally deemed fatal when Douglas was diagnosed in August 2010. While he has been cancer free for two years, his outcome could have been much worse if he had not seen a doctor in Montreal who correctly diagnosed him. Before learning HPV had caused the cancer, he had seen many specialists who failed to notice the large tumor on his tongue and link it to HPV.
Approximately 25-35% of oral cancers are HPV-related, yet many of Douglas’s doctors and various media outlets assumed that the cancer was caused by Douglas’s tobacco and alcohol use. Substance use is often correlated with cancers of the throat, however, oral sex is often not connected in our conversations. Our culture tends to stigmatize those experiencing STIs and downplay the frequency of occurrence. Often this stigma drives people away from seeking the treatment they require. While the Guardian article is fairly objective, it does subtlety further this norm through its diction. By declaring Douglas’s admittance as “surprisingly frank”, the article acknowledges the silence regarding this subject, while simultaneously assigning oral sex and its possible health risks as a subject that is unnatural to be discussed.
In addition, this article and similar conversations are worrisome because they sensationalize the act of oral sex, rather than focus on the health implications of such cases. Instead, conversations should center on how to adapt our health institutions and processes to better diagnose and treat HPV-related cancer cases. The article quotes a recent study in which 57% of 1,316 patients with oral cancer tested positive for HPV-16. Over 100 variants of HPV exist and many are symptomless, but HPV-16 has been linked to a type of oral cancer. This increase in HPV-related oral cancer cases can be attributed to various factors such as the rise of oral sex and fluctuations in safe sex practices. Whatever the cause, health professionals must adapt to the changing causations and be open to discussing their patients’ sexual history, so that the diagnostic period can happen as quickly and as accurately as possible. Luckily for Douglas, oropharyngeal cancer is highly curable even in the latest stages of intervention. If dialogue about our sexual practices and history becomes more embedded in our culture, then the linkage between certain health problems and sexuality will not be an afterthought, leading to earlier intervention.
Jun 3, 2013
A man was riding in his car and his exhaust was bringing out smoke,it was like the cloud was all over the surface of the earth.those around toke notice of it and try stopping him, unlucky he thought his chase was due to traffic and zoom off in speed, they left him assuming he knew they state of his car.We should always be responsible for our actions in spite or irrespective of our positions.
Jun 1, 2013
Jun 1, 2013
1 tear gas cannister
7 girls died
On May 22, 2009, according to the report by the Commissioner of the Armadale Enquiry, the Cottage Dorm inmates had been on lock down for 3 weeks straight. A handful of girls led an escape attempt, creating a major commotion. Angry inmates hurled expletives and waste matter as they tried to get out. One of the police officers summoned to quell the situation threw a tear gas canister into the dorm, igniting a fire.
Four years later, we are ready to ensure no-one forgets what happens, and the fight for justice for the survivors and family of the deceased young girls does not end until proper acknowledgement and compensation is done.
This video entitled “Armadale: Children on Fire” is a powerful docu-poetry by dub poet and youth activist Randy McLaren. What you see in these 9 minutes will never leave you, and it should never. We must never forget the struggles of our fellow youth, and the part we have to play in helping them cope and survive.
Jun 1, 2013
1 tear gas cannister
7 girls died
“The dorm went dark,” Krystal says, reliving the tragic night. “I ran to the window. My eyes were burning, I couldn’t breathe. I felt the heat, but I couldn’t see the fire. There was thick smoke. People were fighting each other, they pulled and pushed to get out the window.”
“When I was on the ground outside, I looked up and saw a light. I said ‘me reach heaven now’. I thought I had died. Everything was silent in my head. When I turned, the noise rushed to me. Everyone was panicking.”
Krystal ran inside a police car and frantically tried to use the radio. Her skin was searing. “When I looked in the rear-view mirror, my face was totally black. I looked at my hands, they were black and white. The skin was hanging off, the flesh was white.”
“I went crazy,” she says. “I started running around the field… not going anywhere, just running. I saw Marcia. The skin on her face blew off. Everybody was crying. Everybody looked like zombies. I saw two other girls, they were burned from head to toe.”
No, it isn’t the newest book, it’s not a fiction. That “excerpt” was a recollection from Krystal, one of the teenage girls being housed at the Armadale facility in Jamaica, of the night their dorm was st ablaze by police. On May 22, according to the report by the Commissioner of the Armadale Enquiry, the Cottage Dorm inmates had been on lock down for 3 weeks straight. A handful of girls led an escape attempt, creating a major commotion. Angry inmates hurled expletives and waste matter as they tried to get out. One of the police officers summoned to quell the situation threw a tear gas canister into the dorm, igniting a fire. Seven Armadale inmates perished: five girls died that night, and two eventually succumbed to their injuries. For most people, they are statistics. For Krystal, they were real people.
You can read about Krystal’s story in which was the third article in a series of stories for Child Month, focusing on some of Jamaica’s most vulnerable adolescents and young people. All names have been changed/withheld for confidentiality.
May 31, 2013
I used to consider myself “transiently pro-choice,” mainly because I didn’t know enough about the issue to restrict anyone’s rights, but I certainly wasn’t comfortable with abortion.
Then things started to change as I came to college and, through my studies, came to some startling realizations about women’s health.
I felt that way before I developed a greater understanding of healthcare in America, particularly the fact that millions are uninsured and underinsured. Not only that, but also that it is easier in this country to get insurance for Viagra than for birth control.
It was before I understood sex and how much easier it is to be sexually irresponsible than responsible. It is not easy to take one pill at the same time every day, especially when your insurance plan does not cover contraceptives. I was “transiently pro-choice” before I had ever taken Plan B, placed that second pill on my tongue and realized that to some I was now a “murderer.”
Most importantly, it was before I understood the meaning of choice. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” If Dumbledore said it, then it must be true. However, there are no identical choices, and not everyone has the same opportunities or resources, not everyone has bootstraps or even boots with which to pull themselves up.
But most of all, it was before I delved into the field of Global Health.
Internationally, 222 million women have an unmet need for family planning. For those who pretend that statistics about women’s issues are in some way fabricated or exaggerated, women with an “unmet need” are those who are sexually active, and are not using any method of contraception, but either do not want to become pregnant or want to delay their next pregnancy.
Over 40 million women have abortions annually. 40 million. And nearly half of them are unsafe. 47,000 women die from complications due to unsafe abortion every year. 47,000. Not to mention the 8.5 million others who suffer serious medical complications from unsafe abortions. 13 percent of maternal deaths are attributable to unsafe abortions. Women drink turpentine or bleach, insert haphazard herbal mixtures into their vaginas, penetrate themselves with hangers or chicken bones, and jump from roofs or fling themselves down stairs because they don’t have access to abortion services.
This is what is known as a preventable cause of death. This is on us. We can’t ascribe these deaths to the long Latin names of communicable diseases. These women do not die of natural causes. These women die because of us, namely bad governance and worse laws. These women die because lawmakers ignore science and statistics, and they ignore history. Policymakers are more concerned with the life of a fetus than the life of its mother.
These policies cannot be categorized as “third world problems.” Less than two weeks after Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) claimed that in abortion “there is no such exception as life of the mother […] with advances in science and technology,” Savita Halappanavar became a martyr to the cause, dying because despite pregnancy complications and her inevitable miscarriage, she was denied an abortion in a Dublin hospital.
Criminalizing abortion is not a tradeoff. Save some fetuses, lose some women; there are no winners. Rather than decreasing abortion rates, it merely decreases the proportion that are performed in a safe, sanitary manner. Western European countries, home to some of the most liberal abortion laws, have the lowest abortion rates globally, with an estimated 12 per 1,000 women of childbearing age annually. Whereas regions with highly restrictive abortion laws have rates two to three times that, at 29 per 1,000 and 32 per 1,000 in Africa and Latin America, respectively.
How one can call oneself “pro-life” while striving to criminalize abortion is one of the greatest health paradoxes known to humankind. If pro-lifers want to save lives they should take a leaf out of South Africa’s book. The country has the lowest abortion rates in the continent due to the liberalization of its laws in 1997, which led to a decrease in abortion-related deaths by 91 percent in the first five years.
Another way to save lives is to financially support mothers and women of childbearing age, which decreases abortion rates even in developed countries.
However, the most direct way to prevent abortion-related deaths, both those of the mothers and those of the fetuses, is to make modern contraceptive methods affordable and accessible. Approximately 80 percent of unintended pregnancies in developing countries can be attributed to unmet need for contraceptives. Even here, we have much to gain from improving access to contraceptives. A recent study performed in St. Louis, surveying over 9,000 women, showed that providing a variety of free contraceptives decreased teen pregnancy rates from 34 to 6.3 per 1,000 women, and abortion rates dropped from between 13.4-17 to between 4.4-7.5 per 1,000 women.
Contraceptives, not restrictive abortion laws, save lives.
May 31, 2013
On Wednesday, the highest court in El Salvador denied an abortion to a woman with a pregnancy that is so high-risk that doctors say it could kill her. Beatriz, 22, is carrying a 26-week fetus with anencephaly, a birth defect that means part of the brain and skull are missing and that the baby will almost certainly die at birth. Beatriz’s doctors say the abortion is necessary for Beatriz’s health and perhaps to save her life. But by a vote of 4–1, the Salvadoran judges ruled that in light of the country’s absolute ban on abortion, “the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those” of the fetus.
El Salvador’s complete ban on abortions has become relatively rare worldwide, as the first map below shows. Keep scrolling and you will see enormous variation in how countries (and states in the U.S.) regulate abortion and birth control. Our main sources of data for these maps are the United Nations, the Guttmacher Institute, the Population Reference Bureau, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Harvard University’s Center for Population and Development Studies.
The maps reflect continuing change: Uruguay recently legalized first-trimester abortions, and courts in Columbia, Brazil, and Argentina have begun to allow them in certain cases. Meanwhile in the United States, Republican-led statehouses have been tightening restrictions since the 2010 election. It’s the largest wave of legislation in the decades since Roe v. Wade.
May 30, 2013
Beatriz is 22. The mother of a 1-year old boy. She has lupus. Kidney malfunction. And her doctors say she will likely die if the pregnancy continues. But, there is still hope for Beatriz.
May 27, 2013
What if all the empathy that transpired in the speeches and talks of policy makers I listened to today at the Women Deliver pre-youth conference could immediately be converted to action? This is the question I asked myself during my reflection on the pre-youth conference that ok place on the 27th May 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.
Passion, enthusiasm, and determination were perceptible in the way the policy makers I listened to and spoke with today spoke about how painful, frustrating, and humiliating the consequences of inequalities that exist in today‘s world are. But does this mean these people have finally heeded to the call of social activists to act now for inequality to be eradicated? Only time will tell as youths will be keeping a keen eye on these people to ensure that all the promises they will make this time around are kept and within the minimum possible time frame.
“The biggest risk to the continuity of humanity is inequality“, declared UNFPA‘s deputy Director; Kate Gilmore during an intervention at the Women Deliver pre-youth conference. Conscious of this, it is unavoidably true that, by delivering on their promises to not only reduce but eradicate inequalities and injustices of every nature, policy makers will be contributing to the continuity of humanity. Therefore by failing to deliver for Girls, women, and Youths, policy makers of this generation will be committing a crime that present and future generations will not pardon.
But well, we the youths of this generation won‘t sit arms folded to see you commit such heinous crimes, because our silence-that of Girls, Women, and Youths is a roar that will degenerate into something worse if not listened to.
May 27, 2013
50years is worth celebrating no doubt, but what do Africans have to celebrate the African Union for ? Economic growth ?,political independence ? social progress ?,or technological advancement ? An answer to this will depend on which side of the board one finds his/herself. There is no doubt that strides have been made in some of the mentioned above areas, but if there one area in which the African Union has woefully failed is in the area of the empowerment of girls, women, and youths.
In a write-up to mark this day titled : The Africa We Want to See,the current chairperson of the African Union commission, Nkosazana Nzuma amongst other things talks of this being an opportunity to take stock of Africa today,its assets, capabilities,opportunities , and challenges. She is definitely right and inorder for the African Union not to become mere words as feared by Ahmed Ben Bella, Africa through the African Union and its people must deliver for its main assets which is its people- especially girls, women , and youths. The time is for African girls, women, and youths is now ! I am utterly convinced that the African delegates and other stakeholders at the 3rd Global Women Deliver conference will make cristal clear and that concrete actions will be taken to ensure that the plight of the African girl,woman , and youth takes central stage in the various policy formulation and implementation processes accross our beloveth continent ;Africa.
May 18, 2013
May 17, 2013
In honor of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Susan Rice–US Representative to the United Nations–released this statement and video expressing support for equal rights for all individuals and communities, particularly LGBT youth.
Today, as we commemorate International Day Against Homophobia, we rededicate ourselves to a basic but essential truth – that human rights are universal and must be protected for all. Homophobia, sadly, is present in every corner of our world. And, it is a problem we continue to face here in the United States.
At the United Nations, the United States is standing up for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and fighting to ensure that their voices are heard and protected. The United States was proud to co-sponsor and adopt an historic resolution at the UN Human Rights Council condemning human rights abuses and violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
We will continue to work in every possible arena to protect communities and promote societies in which everyone – especially LGBT youth – can live safely and without fear regardless of who they are or whom they love. We call on all nations and all peoples to join us in ensuring that human rights are universally protected everywhere every day.
May 17, 2013
The Ministry of Educations says “No to condom in Schools.” I beg to differ. Yes to Condoms in Schools…..
By now we must all be aware of the National Family Planning Board (NFPB) and National HIV/STI merger to form the national authority for sexual and reproductive health. While it is a good move to have the merger, we are now faced with the question, will these two entities — now made one — make more success in its endeavour, and what about the rights component associated with sexual reproductive health?
One of the issues that this authority needs to examine is the debate on whether condoms should be distributed in schools or not. In order to tackle this correctly, the first step that must be taken is for us to scrutinise the readiness of individuals at this age to be engaging in sexual encounters.
There needs to be greater transparency in the age at which one can start engaging in sex and the age at which one can access sexual reproductive services. At present, it is 16 years old and 18 years old respectively. This is contradictory, but the sad reality is, it is our law, so we have to abide by it or else we know the result will be jail time or be fined large sums of money when brought before the courts. There have been several consultations over the years with the relevant authorities involved; however, we are yet to see any real change with regards to having consistency in light of this discrepancy.
Let us examine the pros and cons of distributing contraceptives in schools moreso condoms. Many argue that if this is done we are sending a strong message to children that they should be engaging in sexual activities at their young age, even though they are not emotionally ready for this act. How many of the children in schools are married? Well, we have to take into consideration the moral standing of most of the country being Christians, and we all know that it is a sinful act to be engaging in sex before marriage.
When last did you stop to check the statistics as it relates to teenage pregnancy? The last time I did, it still showed Jamaica having one of the highest in the region. What about that for HIV and other STIs? The 14-24 age groups have the highest rates in the total population. This should not be the case, but it is a reality that these unwanted diseases and pregnancies are occurring among our young people. How else can we deal with this in our society but to distribute condoms to students to rid the society of these unwanted actions? This should always be a last resort, but if the family was playing its role and educating children from within the home from an early age about sex, then the school wouldn’t have to be faced with this burden.
At the end of the day, we should also be advocating for comprehensive sex education in schools. Not only should we teach about abstinence — which is the greatest prevention strategy — but for those who are involved already there needs to be intervention strategy, and this can come in the form of condom distribution to protect these students against unwanted pregnancies and diseases. There should also be a supportive component which can come through counselling and effective referral services where needed. Students have the ability to make informed decisions and should be trusted in taking on this role at times.
IYSO Council Member
May 17, 2013
May 15, 2013
It’s Week 5 of 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, a campaign to demonstrate mass support for policies and programs that will allow women and girls to be healthy, empowered, educated, and safe.
This week we’re focused on improving the health of women and girls.
How can you get involved?
- Follow the conversation at #usa4women and use these sample tweets:
- @rajshah @usaid @pepfar @steveforeignpol: focus on #HIVAIDS prevention strategies that target adolescent girls #usa4girls
- @OMBPress @USAIDGH @statedept Fund intl family planning and repro health account at $1bn/yr incl $65m 4 @UNFPA #usa4women
- Share the infographic in this post!
May 4, 2013
May 2, 2013
Last week, governments from around the world met at the United Nations for the 46th Commission on Population and Development (CPD). Throughout the week-long deliberations, governments, UN agencies, demographers, and NGOs debated the topic of migration and its relationship to the 1994 ICPD Programme of Action—a groundbreaking declaration which signaled a major shift in population policy from one based on population control to one based on human rights, including sexual and reproductive health (SRH).
What’s migration got to do with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), you ask? Well, just about everything.
Today, more women are migrating than ever before, representing nearly half of the total international migrant population, and in some countries, as much as 70 to 80 percent. And young migrants under the age of 29 make up half of all global migrants. During the process of migration, women and girls tend to be more vulnerable to human rights violations, particularly SRHR violations, including violence, exploitation, and sexual coercion. Moreover, migrant women and young people are also at increased risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections due to inadequate access to health services, including SRH services. As a result, ensuring access to SRHR information and services and protection of women’s and young people’s rights was our number one goal at the CPD.
So, how’d we do? Well, this year’s CPD proved interesting, to say the least. Traditionally progressive countries that fight every year to advance SRHR found themselves in a bit of a pickle given their countries’ rather regressive migration policies. Against the backdrop of comprehensive immigration reform playing out on Capitol Hill, the US delegation—typically a stalwart champion of young people’s SRHR and LGBT rights—sought to include language restricting access to non-emergency services to only those migrants who are documented or in legal status. The same was true for other Global North countries like the UK, Canada, Denmark, and the EU. At the same time, conservative countries with strong religious views (think Nigeria, Egypt, Qatar, Honduras, Malta, and Poland) joined forces with the Holy See (aka, the Vatican) to denounce any inclusion of SRHR or sexual orientation and gender identity. Discussions grew more and more tense by the day, resulting in an eventual breakdown of the negotiations and a final “take it or leave it” declaration drafted by the chair of the commission.
From a youth SRHR perspective, the declaration is just so-so. Here’s my take on it.
- Recognizes that human rights are universal and must be promoted and protected regardless of migration status
- Mentions SRH/SRHR five times, with specific attention paid to the prevention of and response to sexual violence, including the provision of emergency contraception and safe abortion services where permitted by law
- Calls for gender sensitive migration policies and actions that empower women and prevent and eliminate all forms of violence, coercion, discrimination, trafficking, and exploitation and abuse of women and girls, including protections for women migrant domestic workers
- Urges special attention (albeit only in a preambular paragraph) to young people’s vulnerability to HIV due to social and economic inequities, stigma, discrimination, gender-based and sexual violence, gender inequality, and lack of access to information on HIV prevention as well as access to sexual and reproductive health services
- Encourages governments to eliminate any remaining HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay, and residence
- Includes language in two places which restricts access to services based on migration or legal status, as well as an entire paragraph reaffirming the sovereign right of each country to implement recommendations in accordance with national laws, “with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people”—in essence rendering everything in the resolution optional if countries disagree with its tenets
- Neglects young people, who are only mentioned twice, both of which are in the preambular paragraphs which carry less significance than the operational paragraphs; adolescents do get a minor mention in OP30 which calls for services to be provided to women and adolescents that are sensitive to their needs, with particular attention to sexual violence survivors
And the Ugly:
- Rejected language suggestions from several countries that would recognize the rights of young people, including access to SRH services and information, including comprehensive sexuality education
- Eliminated the only operational paragraph solely addressing the specific rights, needs, and vulnerabilities of young migrants
- Refused to include a single mention of sexual orientation and gender identity, despite three attempts to do so
After a groundbreaking resolution on adolescents and young people at last year’s CPD, we’ve certainly got our work cut out for us to ensure young people’s rights are front and center in the 20-year review of the ICPD in 2014 and in the post-2015 development agenda. We simply cannot afford to go backwards; we need forward progress if we are ever to see the full implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action.
May 1, 2013
Jamaica has done it again. In an effort to turn the volume up against the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country, renowned vocalist and actress Sheryl Lee Ralph was introduced as the newest ambassador to help in this venture.
The Ministry of Health was instrumental in inviting the Jamaican born now Hollywood star to get on board and had a launch on Tuesday April 23, 2013. This reception saw several stakeholders attending to welcome the CEO of Diva Foundation – Lee Ralph.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson was very keen in his greetings and stated that “The disease was seen as a death sentence, no longer today as we have ART and support from Global fund, World Bank and PEPFAR. We now need to see how we can sustain these improvements with HIV/AIDS. Jamaica is amongst the first country to be looking at sustainable study in regards to HIV/AIDS.” He further went on to say that there is unity with the political parties, civil society and private sector and therefore nothing can stop us now. “HIV/AIDS as a developmental issue must now be treated in that way.”
Ms. Denise Herbol, Mission Director of USAID uttered firm words and reinforced that Partnership amongst all sectors will help us to achieve an AIDS free generation.
The JaBCHA Foundation was one of the key partners’ at this event and its Managing Director, Mr. Earl Moore beckoned that stigma still exists, especially amongst church people. “Private sector is not doing enough and again I will emphasize the churches are not doing enough and it is embarrassing.”
AIDS Healthcare Foundation was in attendance as well and its Southern Bureau Chief, Mr. Michael Kahane brought greetings from his organization. “This country is blessed with the willingness to accept new ideas. As the largest HIV/AIDS organization in the world we are happy to be on board with Jamaica.”
Ms Sheryl Lee Ralph with her melodic singing began her presentation “I am an endangered spices … I am a woman, I am an artist and I know where my voice belongs.” “Jamaica now is the time, you saw us light that fire earlier, you should take action and start talking about sex. We are going to love our children more by talking to them about sex and inform them about abstinence. We can and must do better when it comes to HIV/AIDS, it is everyone’s problem. Get involve, get inform, get proper information. I talk about condoms too, use them! I know you are saying it doesn’t feel good, well HIV doesn’t either. The number one reason most persons don’t talk about their status is because they don’t know their status. “Get tested!” 15-49 age groups are carrying the burden of this disease. “Get tested!” “I love you, God does not make mistakes.”
Ashe ensemble did performance from beating of drums, singing and dancing and had those in attendances wowed by the high energy that they end on and showed that young people are indeed creative and can make a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
This is truly a step in the right direction for Jamaica as it increases awareness on HIV/AIDS. People should become inform and stay in the know. There should be no more stigma and discrimination towards people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.
IYSO Council Member
Apr 30, 2013
When I first began to read the article “How a German Elementary School Taught Sex Ed” published today in The Atlantic, I was a bit shocked. The first sentence describes how a high school biology teacher in Idaho is under investigation by a “professional standards commission” for using the word vagina. Okay, that wasn’t what shocked me. After all, there was that Michigan State Representative who was censored last year for using the same word in front of adults. What surprised me more was the next sentence. Parents in Berlin are mad after an elementary school used a book containing illustrations of condoms and descriptions of orgasms to discuss sex.
Germany? That’s a country in Europe, right? Isn’t Europe supposed to be all liberal about sex and more open to discussion, which is why they have higher rates of contraceptive use and lower rates of teen pregnancy and abortion than other countries. So isn’t this normal?
The article included pictures from the book, along with a disclaimer that cartoon penises would be shown ahead. The first set of images show a couple of cuddling on the bed, both completely naked with all of their anatomically correct parts shown. In the next image, Lisa – the name of the woman – is putting a condom on Lars. Great, safe sex! In the following image, the couple is enjoying some post-coital cuddling.
To appease those German parents and lawmakers who thought that perhaps the book had “unnecessary zeal“, updated versions of the book change the name of the couple from Lisa and Lars to Mama and Papa, and remove images of condoms so that sex is not portrayed as something that is merely done for pleasure. The name of the book is even changed to “Was I in Mommy’s Stomach Too?”.
The authors of a 2012 study that examined children’s knowledge and understanding of contraception and birth argued that kids in elementary school are capable of understanding such topics. However, the study’s results showed that kids from Sweden and the Netherlands understood far more about these ideas than did children from the United States (no shocker there). (The picture at the topic of this article was drawn by a Dutch boy as part of the study. Not too bad, actually)
In the 22 years this book has been out, Germany has still managed to keep its adolescent birth rate to one-third of that of the U.S. While it would be unfair to claim that this book is solely responsible for the lower rate, it is indicative of wider acceptance of age-appropriate sexuality education in Germany and Europe as a whole. To be clear, there has been no discussion of banning the book in Germany, or firing the teachers who used the book. The book is still at the school, although children do not have direct access to it. The most critical comment of the book came from a lawmaker who said that “Sex education should accompany the development of children, not speed it up.”At a time when sex education is again under attack across the United States, it may be too extreme to ask that the book is translated into English. However, the United States could still learn a lot from Europe and their reasonable, realistic views on sexuality education.
Apr 30, 2013
It’s Week 3 of 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, a campaign to demonstrate mass support for policies and programs that will allow women and girls to be healthy, empowered, educated, and safe. This week we’re focused on putting women and girls at the center of the Post-2015 Global Development Agenda. That means prioritizing gender equality, youth empowerment, education and economic empowerment for young women, and an end to violence against women.
How can you get involved?
- Follow the conversation at #usa4women and use these sample tweets:
- Youth empowerment, especially for girls, is key to global prosperity & peace #Post2015 #usa4girls
- #sexual & repro. rights are #humanrights: #post2015 agenda must include access to contraception, abortion & safe maternity care #usa4women
- Check out these resources on the importance of water and sanitation to womens’ health and well-being:
- Water for everyone, everywhere is possible by 2030
- Report: Everyone, everywhere: A vision for water, sanitation and hygiene post-2015
- Joint Statement: End water and sanitation inequalities in the future development agenda
Check back next week for more!
Apr 29, 2013
Being able to attend the 46th Untied Nation Commission on Population and Development during the 22nd and 26th of April was definitely a great experience for me. While entering the UN not as a tourist excited me since my dream since childhood is to be able to work for the UN, attending the sessions enabled me to have a deeper understanding of the political debate of sexual and reproductive health and rights at an international level.
This year’s CPD focused on “demographic changes and new trends in migration”. Although the meeting started somewhat like a statistical presentation, the debate over the resolution quickly started around numbers of red-lights issues.
The first, without any doubt, was around the sexual and reproductive health and rights. Although I definitely understood the cultural differences among countries and their reasons for arguing against SRHR, at some point, the debate became too frustrated for me to continue engaging since the oppositions started to become irrational. The misunderstanding of SRHR was huge. The major argument of oppositions was SRHR=abortion without realizing all other great things that SRHR promoted—for example, maternal health, empowering women, and in fact, with proper use of contraception method, abortion, especial unsafe abortion, could be avoid. However, they argued one-sidely about abortion. But, as a matter of fact, they themselves also argued for better health of mothers as well as economic opportunity for migrants—which was ironic because to achieve all of these goals, promoting SRHR is necessary.
The second red-light issue that received a lot focuses was the argument of national sovereignty and migrants’ equal access to services. This debate was actually heart-breaking for me to observe. Apparently, while conservative countries remained in opposition, countries which had a tradition of supporting universal human rights turned against migrants’ rights majorly with the consideration of national sovereignty and the fear of undocumented migrants’ usage of social welfare. As a politician put in his words—“I don’t care the human rights of migrants, because they are in my country, they need to play by my rules.”
Rules, or as a delegation stated during the plenary—“legal status and regulation”, separated migrants’ rights from universal human rights and turned the discussion during the 46th UN CPD into a debated of “us” and “them”. While migrants should be considered as natural human beings, their manmade titles such as “undocumented” make them subject to structural violence—defined by Johan Galtung as a form of violence where some social structure or social institution purportedly harms people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs—created by legal systems which are intended to protect universal human rights but become institutions only for “us”, not “them”.
Consequentially, this legal barrier makes migrants, especially those undocumented migrants, more vulnerable to ill health. On the one hand, administrative hurdle and legal status, sometimes couple with other social risk factors such as poverty, stigma, and social exclusion, lead to the lack of social security and protection for migrants which cause the exacerbation of health conditions may due to migrants’ suffering of human trafficking, sexual violence, and exploitation, on the other hand, legal status also blocks migrants’ access to services. As a result, migrants face a health disparity that sometimes even cannot be voiced due to legal barriers. For example, migrant women frequently endure sexual coercion and abuse, without the ability to report these crimes to a local authority; young migrants are often afraid to access health services for fear of discrimination, detention or deportation because of their migratory status. In fact, I have a much deeper understanding of this fear. On the one hand, during my spring trip to Immokalee, Florida with the George Washington University Alternative Spring Break program, I heard lots of stories from undocumented migrant workers there about their inability to use healthcare services. One young lady said she had to turn to unsafe abortion method because she entered the country illegally and was afraid hospitals would report her to the government. On the other hand, as an international student with legal status, I still cannot fully utilize health services like an American citizen. As a result, I urge countries to ensure migrants’ equal access to basic health services regardless their legal status and their ability to pay. I also hope to call for international society’s recognition of migrants’ rights as human rights.
The last thing I learnt from CPD was the importance of NGOs. Imaging the one-week debate among politicians will determine people’s lives around the world made me somewhat cannot accept. Although I totally understood each nation’s position and the obligations for its own politicians to stand for the position, I also felt there lack a representation of the real people in the country. While the nation may argue from a religious point of view to against SRHR, it was the people who were suffering from this decision. As a result, NGOs are very important because they are the channels of the real voices and demands of people. I am very proud of myself can be part of this channel for young people’s voice to be heard.
Apr 25, 2013
The two years I spent serving as a health volunteer with the Peace Corps in West Africa were some of the most formative years of my life. They fostered my sense of independence and resourcefulness, solidified my career and life goals, and taught me to question injustices, particularly those injustices that jeopardized the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young women and girls and placed them at an educational, economic, social, and political disadvantage. I never imagined that one day I would find myself questioning injustices faced by Peace Corps volunteers themselves.
More than 210,000 of us have served in the Peace Corps since its founding 52 years ago. As anyone can attest, Peace Corps volunteers provide an invaluable service to our country and the countries in which we serve, but we often do it at risk to our own safety and security. Over the past decade, more than 1,000 volunteers have experienced sexual assault. Women—who comprise more than 60 percent of the 8,000 currently serving volunteers—should never have to face the tragedy of a sexual assault, but if they do, they should be able to access comprehensive health care and support services. Yet, Peace Corps volunteers are now one of the only groups of women who receive their health care through the federal government who are denied coverage for abortion services in the cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.
We must change this outrageously blatant discriminatory policy! Join me in demanding health equity and fairness for Peace Corps volunteers!
Denying volunteers a basic health care benefit that is extended to all other federal employees—including the Peace Corps employees who work with these volunteers—is grossly unfair and denies thousands of volunteers access to vital health services. Women serving our country deserve equity and fairness in access to health care, consistent with other areas of federal law.
Fortunately, Senators Lautenberg, Shaheen, Gillibrand, Boxer, Murray, Warren, and Murphy introduced the Peace Corps Equity Act (S. 813), which would repeal this inequitable restriction on women’s health and allow the Peace Corps to provide the same coverage for abortion care—in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment—as employees covered under other federal health plans currently receive.
No woman should face life endangerment because she cannot access a medical procedure that is safe and legal in the United States.
Director of Public Policy and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer
Apr 22, 2013
Apr 22, 2013
Remember to always reduce, reuse, and recycle.
And maybe start some eco-feminist discussions?
Enjoy some Captain Planet.
Gonna take pollution down to zero.
Apr 22, 2013
Photo Credit: Sacramento Earth Day
Today is Earth Day.
It’s a day that many of us associate with recycling and celebrating trees, wildlife, and rivers. And as a recreational tree-hugger, I can appreciate those traditional connotations of Earth Day.
But today’s environmental issues run much broader than just our waterways and forests.
Examining environmental issues with a feminist lens enables us to see the intersection of gender, socio-economics, and the environment.
The exploration and study of this intersection is formally referred to as eco-feminism.
Although no single definition of it exists, I would define it as a feminism that works to examine how environmental degradation and climate change impact communities and community members based on their socio-economic status and gender.
It’s important that the valuable intersectional perspective of eco-feminism doesn’t get lost amidst the green frenzy on Earth Day.
Women and Global Climate Change
Natural disasters and resource shortages hit impoverished communities first and worst. With women making up an estimated 70% of those living below the poverty line, they are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation.
Women living in developing nations tend to be natural resource managers as the gatherers of food, water and firewood. And from a young age, girls traditionally assist their mothers with this work.
As resources become scarcer with decline in the environment’s health, girls are attending less and less school to be able to dedicate more time to finding water, or simply because school fees are no longer available as crop cycles become less predictable.
You can imagine the cycle of poverty that this spawns.
As primary natural resource managers, these women are especially well-equipped to lead environmental mitigation and adaptation efforts.
But due to traditional and patriarchal gender roles that devalue unpaid work like childcare and water retrieval, women’s specialized knowledge in smart and effective climate change adaptation is typically not respected or taken into consideration in most community decision-making processes.
Environmental and Social Injustice in the United States
In our own backyard, low-income communities and communities of color bear the greatest burden of environmental injustice.
Take Mossville, Louisiana as an example.
The small, rural, and predominantly African American town became the site of the highest concentration of vinyl plastic manufacturers in the US, in addition to housing a coal-fired power plant, oil refineries and other chemical production facilities.
Together, these facilities produce more than 4 million pounds of carcinogenic toxic chemicals that end up in the soil, air and water of Mossville. This community’s exposure to these toxins has resulted in grave health impacts, from high incidences of asthma to a cancer epidemic.
It is not a coincidence that these toxic plants were built in a lower-class community of color and not a place like downtown Washington, DC, a place populated by people of privilege and significant socio-political power.
Mossville, Louisiana is a clear cut incidence of environmental racism.
Another alarming instance of environmental and social injustice happening right before our eyes has to do with toxic chemical exposure.
Mounting scientific evidence reveals that chemicals in our air, water and everyday products—from our furniture to our personal care and cleaning products—are harming our reproductive health and fertility.
This is frightening news for those of us that are planning big spring cleaning extravaganzas or like to paint our nails every few weeks.
But what about if you clean houses for a living or work in a nail salon? Your exposure to toxic chemicals is likely to be constant and severe.
Women of color and immigrant women are overrepresented in professions that entail extreme and dangerous exposure to toxic chemicals.
Again, it’s not a coincidence that low-income women of color are disproportionately burdened by toxic chemicals through their jobs, and the eco-feminist lens helps illuminate this reality.
Applying Eco-Feminism on Earth Day and Beyond
The eco-feminism lens is helpful in addressing environmental issues because it allows us the unveil oppressive societal structures – like racism, sexism, and classism – that play a significant role in the health of the environment and who is most impacted by this health declining.
So from now on, when you’re discussing recycling with your friends, don’t just think about where your un-recycled items will end up.
Dig deeper and consider which communities tend to live near the landfills in which non-recyclable waste is dumped.
Then dig even deeper and consider how living near the landfills may impact their health and wellbeing and if they are likely to have access to health insurance or not when it comes time to address these health impacts.
That is the beauty of the intersectional nature of eco-feminism.
With eyes wide open to the importance of justice issues on Earth Day, let’s take action in support of legislation that would make the 84,000 chemicals in commerce today safe for use by all consumers, but most importantly, communities that are disproportionately harmed by toxic chemicals.
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Apr 21, 2013
In a society where the growing population of youth is unstoppable, there remains a huge problem concerning the employability of some young people. They are encouraged to venture into tertiary studies and then enter the world of work, which most ambitious young people strive to do.
It was recently brought to my attention that a young graduate of a prominent university after showing up to an interview was rejected solely base on his age. This is scandalous and should not be accepted within our society. Prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a person’s age should not be the reason to reject an individual for employment especially a young person. How will these individual get the necessary experience they so desire if they are not given the opportunity to show the skills and abilities that they have garnered?
The Jamaican society is not doing much to engage and keep young people active and wanting to be a part of nation building. Young people are within their most productive years and can do so much for the population and aid in development. However, if there is no enabling environment for this then these young people will seek to find greener pastures. These greener pastures promises much more opportunity and then without a doubt the quota for brain drain will increase.
Don’t deny us from becoming a part of the working class because we are young. We want to make a contribution to the development of this nation. For every young person a decent job is a means through which they can become fully independent. Having young people employed will lead to sustainable development and more productivity as they would have entered in the workforce as a skilled professional and is expected to move up the ladder over a period of time.
When young people are deprive from entering into the workforce the worst case scenario is that they will turn to drugs, crime and violence and may become more vulnerable and susceptible to disease.
There need to be polices that speaks to youth employment opportunities both within the private and public sectors in order to address the growing problem of employers not wanting young people being in their organization.
IYSO Council Member
Apr 20, 2013
Job Category: Govt Sector, Teaching, Walkin
Last Date: 18 April 13
Hiring Process: Walk – In.
Tezpur University, invites applications for the post of Teacher for pre-primary school
Qualification : B.A./B.Sc. preferably with B.Ed. or Montessori trained with sufficient fluency in speaking English
No. of Post : 01
How to apply
Walk-in-Interview at 11:00 a.m., on 18th April, 2013 atTakshashila Vidyapeeth,Tezpur University Campus
For Details and Query visit our site Government Jobs in India