Category > Young People
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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 19, 2014
Prom season is in full swing! Students across the country are reserving limos, renting tuxes, and posing for those classically awkward photos for their parents. But while we’re enjoying the glamour, let’s not forget safety! It’s always better to protect ourselves – and our partners – and these images are a reminder to do it in style. #promswag!
Show your love for contraception methods, while getting your prom glam on.
Keep calm, and Prom on.
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 ?
Mar 27, 2014
Tennessee Sends Religious Anti-Discrimination Bill To Governor
Reposted from The Huffington Post | by Shadee Ashtari
Tennessee lawmakers approved a bill on Monday that seeks to expand religious liberty protections for students in public schools.
The Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act, which passed the state Senate 32-0, would permit students to express religious beliefs in their homework, artwork and written and oral assignments without academic punishment or discrimination.
The legislation’s primary sponsors, state Rep. Courtney Rogers (R) and Sen. Ferrell Haile (R), introduced the measure after a teacher asked a 10-year-old student to choose a subject other than God to write about as the person she admired most, according to the Associated Press. The state House passed the bill earlier this month by a vote of 90-2.
Haile characterized the legislation as a pre-preemptive safeguard against potential lawsuits challenging school officials for permitting religious expression, according to the Tennessean.
The proposal would also allow religious students to organize prayer groups and other religious gatherings before, during and after school to the “same extent that students are permitted to organize other noncurricular student activities and groups.”
Opponents of the bill contend that existing laws already protect students’ rights to religious expression and that the new legislation would only expose students of different faiths to unnecessary religious coercion.
“While purporting to prevent discrimination against students expressing religious viewpoints, SB 1793/HB 1547 crosses the line from protecting religious freedom into creating systematic imposition of some students’ personal religious viewpoints on other students,” the Tennessee American Civil Liberties Union said in a recentstatement. “Should this pass, students with a range of religious beliefs, as well as non-believers, would likely routinely be required to listen to religious messages or participate in religious exercises that conflict with their own beliefs.”
Similar legislation, modeled after Texas’ 2007 Religious Viewpoint Anti-Discrimination Act, unanimously passed the Oklahoma Senate in February.
The Tennessee bill now awaits Gov. Bill Haslam’s (R) signature. Given the measure’s overwhelming support in both the Senate and the House, a veto by the governor would likely be overturned.
Mar 25, 2014
In the words of ROCK STAR youth activist Kirin Gupta, ““What is at stake today is an issue of sexism, classism, and oppression. It is the control exercised by money and power of a few who are twisting our country’s freedom of religion to deny basic freedoms to young, often already marginalized bodies. These choices are ours—not our schools, not our bosses, not anyone else’s.”
Today’s Supreme Court hearing on contraception and religious liberty was a big deal and we could not be more proud of the response from our friends, allies, co-workers, partner orgs, and youth activists all around the country. Our voices have been heard, and we are watching!
Visit #DearSCOTUS for a comprehensive look at all the went down today, but here are a few pics too!
Mar 24, 2014
According to DoSomething.org, “more than 90 percent of parents of junior high and high school students believe that it is somewhat or very important for sex education to be included in the curriculum”. And yet, if a basic question regarding sex is typed into Google, some of the most popular results include webpages such as Yahoo Answers. Many schools across the United States currently push for the abstinence-only, Mean Girls approach (“Don’t’ have sex, because you will get pregnant and die!”) Yet even if these schools are not providing students with information regarding sex education, students will find their own means to understand their questions—often, from unreliable sources such as Internet forums, or word of mouth from other students.
College campuses provide a unique opportunity to learn first-hand what high school sex education programs are like in various states; try asking classmates from different locations what their experience has been in the past. For example, I attended an urban high school in Pennsylvania, where I received an intensive sex education class in ninth grade that covered all methods of contraception, how they are used, and their effectiveness. In contrast, I have a friend from a rural town in Washington whose sex education class was shorter than one semester and consisted of an abstinence-only approach. When I asked him how he pursued the answers to his questions regarding sex education, his answer was simple: the Internet.
You know how teachers are picky about research paper sources, strongly against the use of sites like Wikipedia, but advocating for researched articles? Those Internet forums on informal sex education are like Wikipedia for your body. Young students are getting their own information from complete strangers on Internet forums who claim to know all the answers—answers that may prove unreliable and unsafe. Our generation is at high risk for unplanned pregnancies and contraction of STDs, and the public school system is doing little or nothing to help. Abstinence-only methods are ineffective; if students want to know more, they have endless resources—thank you, Internet—to help them do their own research. Yet these methods are not as reliable and not nearly as trustworthy as a researched curriculum would be to students in the classroom.
Young students have the right to learn about their sexual health. The choices they make outside the classroom are their own. But if every student is provided with an equal level of education in regard to prevention of STDs, unintended pregnancies, and equal understanding of their sexual health, then every student has an equal chance to be healthy in their sexual choices. (And P.S.—the parents agree.)
Sarah Bradley ’17
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 20, 2014
Are you a young person (14-24 years old) who is:
- Passionate about fighting for young people’s rights to sexual health information and services?
- Interested in connecting with youth leaders from across the country?
- Dedicated to developing skills to make a difference in your community?
If selected, you will have opportunities to: develop new organizing and leadership skills; become informed on sexual and reproductive health issues; connect with passionate young people from across the country; and build skills to make a lasting impact in your community. You will also join more than 100 youth activists in Washington, DC for an intense four-day activist training institute free of charge!
Advocates’ youth activists have done amazing work this year. You can join them in:
- Advocating for better sexual health education policies in your state
- Increasing HIV testing and condom availability in your community or on your campus
- Providing confidential support and resources to young people who are coming out as LGBTQ
- Mobilizing your peers around international family planning issues
- Working toward ending the shame and stigma people are made to feel about having an abortion
If you are a parent, teacher, or advocate who knows young people who are passionate about sexual and reproductive health and rights, please encourage them to apply.
Join our team!
Mar 18, 2014
WHY I AM A STUDENT FOR SEXUAL HEALTH
By Matt Mazzari
It’s no secret that Catholic-affiliated universities in America struggle with open discussions of sexuality on their campuses. The fundamental discomfort that religious educational administrations feel regarding issues such as contraception, STI prevention and pre-marital sexual activity in general make it difficult for students at places like my own school, Boston College, to have the oh-so-very important conversations about birth control and sexual health that are oh-so-very relevant to university life.
Of course, acknowledging that these unnecessary taboos exist isn’t to say that progressive conversation isn’t happening anyway. At BC, students simply find outlets for discussions of sexuality on our own. Just a few weeks ago, a theatre group of female undergraduates put on three full-house performances of The Vagina Monologues. Before that, I saw the LGBTQ allies of BC flood an anti-marriage equality lecture on campus with their assertively-tolerant presence. This semester, I’m taking a course titled “Spirituality and Sexuality” with an openly gay professor wherein my classmates are talking about their own experiences with sex and its relevance (positive and negative) to their religious lives.
Just because certain members of the administration aren’t appreciative of how important these issues are doesn’t mean that the students are going to be silent about them. The simple fact of the matter is that the vast majority (approximately 75%) of U.S. college students are sexually active, and religious institutions like Boston College are not some miraculous exception.
So yes, students here generally recognize the importance of sexual health to at least some extent. And it makes sense, right? A constant topic of controversy for BC is the “hook-up culture”, which students and external perspectives alike have described as being especially pervasive on this campus; any statistically literate person can tell you that this social scene in combination with a lack of sexual health awareness programs is a recipe for disaster, particularly when you consider the fact that 1 in 2 sexually active people will contract an STD by the age of 25. In a survey from 2009, about 90% of BC students answered in support of having access to contraceptive resources, i.e. condoms, available on campus. It’s pretty clear where the student body (pun-intended) stands on this matter of promoting sexual health.
But if we’re basically all in agreement, why is having a group like the Students for Sexual Health so important at BC?
Personally, I became a part of SSH relatively late; I’m a senior now, and I only went to my first meeting last semester. I’d seen them handing out condoms at the corner of College Road and Hammond Street since I was a freshman living on Upper Campus. I remember hearing about the “incidents”: the counter-activism from conservative clubs on campus, the frequent harassment they dealt with from the campus police, or that one time they got yelled at by a priest during condom distribution outside of McElroy. But despite being aware of the problem and the ludicrous knock-back SSH was encountering, it wasn’t really until this year that it dawned on me that progress just doesn’t seem to be coming along fast enough.
Just look at the political sphere! Backwards opinions on sexual health aren’t exclusive to Catholic university campuses: since the Affordable Care Act was passed in March of 2010, one of the central controversies has been the coverage of birth control as part of health expenses. Because, I guess, sexual health isn’t a part of…health? By last year, nearly a hundred federal lawsuits had been filed specifically in opposition to ACA’s birth control benefits. The Supreme Court has recently ceded to the demands of several Catholic Organizations regarding this issue. For instance, the owners of a company named Hobby Lobby, a for-profit Arts and Crafts material-supplier with no open religious affiliation, successfully argued that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) grants them exemption from providing their employees with birth control insurance based solely on their own religious beliefs.
I’m sorry, but what?!
How in the name of all that is reasonable does a corporation justify denying its employees federally-guaranteed health care on the basis of the CEO’s personal religion? So, even though 99% of sexually-active women report having used birth control, that medical expense somehow doesn’t count? The owners of an Arts and Crafts company just have to say “We think the Pill was invented by Satan” and then they automatically don’t have to provide the women in their company with medical coverage they obviously need? Should we also take away insurance coverage of blood transfusions if a company owner is part of Jehovah’s Witness? Should we take away people’s chemo treatment if their manager believes exclusively in faith-healing? The fact that President Obama and Congress are entertaining these demands is extremely unsettling. Not only does this fly in the face of everything that a national health care plan is supposed to be, it perpetuates an attitude towards young persons’ sexuality (female sexuality in particular) that is incredibly dangerous and wrongheaded, resulting in the continued high-rates of accidental pregnancies, VD transmission, and general ignorance that have proven to be problematic in the past.
So that’s why I’m a part of this club, SSH. It’s not because I’m pessimistic about my campus or the students’ attitude here at BC; it’s not because I believe in anything more radical than “everyone should know how to have protected sex”; it’s not even because I want the federal government to provide Americans with anything beyond what it has already agreed to provide. It’s because the opponents to programs like SSH are still so vocal and powerful, and there is still such a long way to go. When our country finally reaches the point where it has covered that distance in sexual education and provision of necessary resources, I want to be able to say I was a part of that movement, that I was a Student for Sexual Health.
Mar 17, 2014
Organizations that truly and honestly support teenage parents are limited and at best growing in number.
— Teen Mom NYC (@GloriaMalone) March 15, 2014
— Teen Mom NYC (@GloriaMalone) March 15, 2014
Mar 15, 2014
Have you ever felt how important your life is? Have you ever thought what you can do being a youth to your community, Society and Nation where you live? Have you ever felt how important your small effort can be bring diverse change in society? Youth can be pioneer for inspiration and change.
Have you ever felt or seen God in your life? Let me remind you all, Lord Buddha was Siddhartha Gautam, Son of king. But his work made him god. We should not go so far to see God. Just look around you, who serves for saving life of other. Who thinks and sacrifice for saving life of other. Yes, I have felt and seen God in my life. A real Youth icon, Youth activists Mr.Saroj Karki (Co-founder, President of Youth for Blood).
It was 28th February 2014, A wonderful Friday, I felt God in my life when I got chance to meet Mr.Saroj Karki and his inspiring Team in YUWA. I can’t skip this word” Thank you! Dipendra Dai(Brother) ,Co-founder ,President of YUWA for allowing me to attend the informal chit chat session with Mr.Saroj Karki.Its reality and bitter Truth whenever we start to do some innovative thing, we hardly get support from other. But, when the same thing gets followed by mass of people we get Loads of congratulation in our life. Informal one hour chit chat session with Mr.Saroj Karki was very inspiring to me. I learned, we should accept criticism that comes in our life to March ahead to reach up to our Destiny. We should try to search positivity in Negativity so that a great lesson can be learned in our life.
Donating your Blood and saving life of other is really a great work that we can do. It’s our own Body, it’s our own Blood .We do not need any ethical recommendation from external and internal forces. The only thing that we need is we should meet the criteria that we must cross the age of 16 and might have weight more than 45kg. Our blood should contain hemoglobin more than 12 gm.
I was much influenced and inspired by his story .I couldn’t stop tears rolling down from my eyes listening to his past hard work from establishment of youth for Blood up to Now. I was happier to take snap standing side by him. Thank you Youth advocates Leadership Council (YALC) and YUWA ,My real family where I learn from my seniors ,sometime I got scolded .but I know it’s all for me ,to improve my weakness and mistakes. Because we really find people who helps us to correct our weakness with loads of Love. I feel blessed to be part of it.
Nobel College –Nepal (BPH 7th semester)
Mar 14, 2014
While I am still basking in the ambience of the latest episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D“, I would like to thank Marvel and everyone responsible for putting Lady Sif in ACTUAL, functional armor. Really, thank you. I’ll excuse the boobplate because it’s not as awful as it could be.
And speaking of costumes, here’s a fun version of bingo you can play at your next game night.
Click the image for a PDF version.
Mar 13, 2014
I tried to look at my country and closely to “youth and Nepal”. Nepal identified as a small developing country where there is still a much more activities to be done for development. The systematic developmental process is greatly influenced by the basic preparation done where I felt the policy to be important. I then picked a National youth Policy of Nepal prepared in 2066 for the first time to address the youth of Nepal.
Going through the policy I feel like the policy is able to incorporate ranging issues of Youth and their need at present and in future. Issues covered ranges from education, employment, health, development, support, entrepreneurship, advocacy, participation, opportunity and more. Ahh! It’s like more than enough. As a health student I then funneled my focus on the issues of health of youth then surprisingly I got many points dealing to health from normal health need of youth to special one. The need for health safety, need for health awareness, need of specialized health care, health and privacy, HIV/AIDS, family Planning, health as basic right, and to my sock Sexual health and it component too. The incorporation of SRHR issue from policy level itself can be a great achievement to a country like ours where even to raise the issues of Young and SEX at a time is like a crime.
The document level strength of NYP-2066 can be termed as unbeatable I felt like I will for sure get every facility and opportunity I want as a Youth to capacitate myself in Nepal itself but again here comes the tragedy of implementation level loop holes. I thought of myself and the level of facility I get to entertain as youth in Nepal. The reality was bitter. The trend of document level strength but weakness in the implementation is not only the tragedy of Nepal but of number of other countries too.
Alas! I wish I could have some magical power to reframe all happening and environment so as to make the development an easy going task for all. To strengthen the youth capacity and make world a better place to live in.
Mar 12, 2014
After waiting in the HOT, Florida sun for hours and then standing and waiting impatiently inside a cramped high school auditorium… the moment me and my fellow Planned Parenthood supporters (along with a swarm of hundreds of other excited individuals ) had been waiting for had finally arrived. The President of the United States had graced us all with his presence. Mr. Obama addressed something very important when it came to making college affordable for everyone. He talked about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid a.k.a FAFSA!
President Obama recommended that everyone apply for FAFSA, even if you don’t think you’ll qualify because you never really know. If it wasn’t for FAFSA, I would not be attending college today. FAFSA provided me with grants and qualified me for scholarships all of which is basically FREE MONEY! And who doesn’t love free money? The application was quick and easy to understand and fill-out. The best part of it was seeing my Expected Family Contribution which told me how much my family needed to put together ahead of time so I could be prepared to pay for college. Overall, FAFSA opens up so many opportunities when it comes to making college affordable and I think every student who plans on attending college or is currently attending college should apply. See the link below for more information:
Stay Informed. Stay Safe. Stay Healthy.
Mar 11, 2014
This past Friday I was privileged to see President Barack Obama speak at Coral Reef High School. It was truly an honor to be up close and personal with the nation’s 44th president. He visited South Florida to speak with the senior class at Coral Reef High School about the options that they have for continued education. President Obama and his wife strongly advocate for students to be able to obtain a higher education. Applying for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA was stressed throughout the president’s speech. He explained that last year millions of dollars were left on the table simply because students did not fill out the FAFSA to see what aid they were eligible for. President Obama encouraged all of the students to fill out the FAFSA to ensure they have a chance at obtaining a higher education.
The overall experience of meeting the President of the United States was mind blowing. As he spoke I was flushed with a number of different emotions ranging from proud, excited, eager, and satisfied. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to be invited to such an amazing event. The memories will live in my mind forever.
Mar 10, 2014
A few days ago President Barack Obama came to a High School in Miami and I was able to listen to him speak. He spoke on the opportunities that Higher Education provides an individual and how as president he’s ensuring that Higher Education is more available for everyone in the United States. Although the message was positive it wasn’t as glamorous and glorious as I thought it would be. The speech served to remind me that people are people and no person is is above it all. Even the president reads his speeches and makes mistakes.
Mar 8, 2014
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.
Mar 4, 2014
For the month of February, besides attending a Jack and Jill health fair in Fort. Lauderdale, I began my ‘Contraception Awareness Campaign.’ This project is an endeavor that will last for about 8 weeks at my attempt to get 200 people on my campus to learn something new about contraception. My goal is to peer educate at least 25 people every week while I table at my college. (I will provide information like how to get contraception, the proper way to store them, comparative analysis between brands including breaking myths, as well as educating the importance of contraception in preventing pregnancy). In my first week, there were approximately 40-80 people in attendance and we collected 40 sign ups. The focus was ‘How well do you know your STI’s?’ Although many people came up and played our game, it took an engineering major to win the $25 It’s sugar gift card give-away! Also around Valentine’s Day, I took part in hosting a love Workshop on my campus in order to educate the students on healthy relationships and contraception use. My passion for educating my peers on this controversial topic comes from recognizing the important role contraceptives play in people’s futures. As an incredible philosopher once said “Neglect of an effective birth control policy is a never-failing source of poverty which, in turn, is the parent of revolution and crime.” —ARISTOTLE, Politics.
Mar 2, 2014
Hello my sisters, im new to this website and i already love it. I have always wanted to be apart of something like this. Anyways i was looking for a group of young youths to talk to. Personally, as a young teen i went through a lot by myself. I know how it feel to not have anyone to talk to. If anyone knows a place i can go to write me back. Thanks!
Mar 1, 2014
#ShadesofRosie is a campaign that seeks to start and maintain a conversation about intersectionality in our movements and in our lives. Through the feminist icon, Rosie the Riveter, we want to show how diverse women are and thus how diverse our movement has to be in order to truly fight for them. Feminism is evolving and this Women’s History Month, #ShadesofRosie is finding ways to highlight that evolution through a figure that has already seen her meaning change as society changed.
Fun Fact: Rosie the Riveter wasn’t created for feminism.
The “We Can Do It” poster that is now most famously associated with the feminist symbol Rosie The Riveter was originally used as a propaganda tool to get women in the work force during World War II. Lower class women and women of color, of course, were already in the workforce, but in the midst of the War, the government needed everyone on deck. The government at that time, however, did not intend for women to STAY in the workforce. Rosie’s iconic image was always supposed to be temporary.
It wasn’t until the Women’s Movement in the 70s that Rosie became the face of women empowerment and equality in the workforce. She was already popular across the country and feminists did not have to do anything but assert that the values she stood for, the idea that “We Can Do It”, didn’t stop when our troops returned home. But Rosie, in her original form, is a very simplified form of feminism. She represents the interests of white, middle-class woman who are seeking job equality.
I think we can all agree that feminism is more than that.
The Young Women of Color Leadership Council is a group of young women of color who have made a habit of looking at our issues complexly. We are a reproductive justice advocacy collective, which means we take on the issues of reproductive issues (especially Healthy Relationships, HIV/STI Awareness, Sexual Violence, Contraception Access, and Abortion Rights) and try to address them from all the angles, by educatingour communities and especially women of color about the issues, including them in our movement, and empowering them to make change. We know the importance of nuance.
Which brings us back to #ShadesofRosie: Rosie has already leveled up once before, so it is only fitting that she do so again! WE are the face of feminism and so WE will be the makeover that Rosie the Riveter so desperately needs. All we ask for you to do to get involved is to Facebook/Tweet a picture of you striking the Rosie the Riveter pose!
Share with the hashtag #ShadesofRosie and if possible, include a caption of what intersectionality means to you! Throughout the month we will be having a twitter chat and a Google Hangout that will seek to explore intersectionality in-depth. We will be sharing articles and pictures and music that we feel adds to the diversity of the feminist movement, and we ask you to do the same!
One of Feminism’s best qualities is that it challenges society to grow. It demands change. It declares that equality is not and will never be temporary.
The discussion around intersectionality is not going away because WE are not going away. We are vital parts of this movement and we must acknowledge the complexities of our problems. Instead of letting our differences divide us, we must celebrate them together. We are all diverse and special and strong in our own way. We are all different shades of Rosie.
It’s time we share our differences with the world.
Feb 25, 2014
February is Teen Domestic Violence Awareness month. Domestic violence is unfortunately a regularly accruing act of violence in society and yet it’s long lasting and devastating impacts are often under spoken about on a societal level.
Feb 20, 2014
For me, the 4th Student Council Leadership Conference was the best experience to end my year 2009. It was year full of blessings that an emerging young leader like me can ever dream of. The year opened and closed with so many memorable moments and new friendships created. It expanded my horizons which enable me to take a look at a different perspective of life and the world. This was the time where I was first realized that I found myself being productive and active in different youth activities. We have conducted the very first Youth Assembly on HIV/AIDS in Tacloban, the first in Eastern Visayas. By October, I was in Beijing, China to attend the 5th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights – my very first overseas trip to attend an international conference. That year, I resolved to be an advocate on issues concerning us youth and to do my best to contribute to the improvement of meaningful youth participation in the community and government.
I have a confession to make. I was thinking twice of attending the 4th LeadCon for two reasons: first, I was dead tired after being in Manila for a week with the launch and strategic meeting that follow of Y-PEER Pilipinas network. I went home on the very morning of the start of the 4th LeadCon. Second, whether my friends will agree or disagree, I hate doing late appearances (or “grand entrance” as some has said). Fortunately, I was able to contact one of the organizers and I got a go-ahead signal to proceed to the COA Conference Hall, the venue of the event. With everyone in a lunch break, I was able to sneak in to the venue and register and dress up in my barong, slacks, and black shoes. It was a great of sigh of relief that I was able to meet my fellow participants from UP among the sea of young people that began to enter the venue after lunch break was over. Looking back, it was one of the best decisions I made in life. Sticking with my motto, “Its better late than never” save the day. Hahaha!
During the first day of the LeadCon, I found myself in a dilemma on which group will I belong since I was not present when the groupings were made in the morning. Following my instinct, I went to the group were my UP friends are. The group, which we later called as Baa Baa Black Sheep Society, was composed of dynamic and incredibly funny young people from all over Eastern Visayas. Arci and Brendo were our Muses. Analyn was our small-but-terrible DJ and when are joined together, we are a riot. Hahaha…I miss you guys!!! Hope to see you in the LeadCon alumni gathering. Meeting and knowing other young student leaders from across Eastern Visayas provided an opportunity for us to forge connections and network that was very advantageous on our part. We were able to invite each other on our activities in our respective school like contests, fairs, intramurals or speaking engagements. It made us appreciate each other, seek support from peers and share experiences on leadership and serving people.
Learning from Douglas Nierras, never give up on your dreams even if many are skeptic about you. He shared his story that as a young person, he loves to dance but many make fun of him because he was chubby. Yet, he pursued his dreams and proved them all wrong. He now directs Power Dance. Jose Bayani Baylon of Coca-Cola Philippines and Natividad Noel-Alejo of Bank of the Philippines are also personages worthy of emulating. Mr. Baylon will always be remembered for giving away crisp 500 pesos for answering his question that is very tricky that no one was able to answer it until he himself gave the answer. Meeting fellow debater Dino de Leon and youth leader Francis Alber Javier was very inspiring. They gave faces on what youth leadership can do. Kuya Jude will always be our Kuya, the Big Brother of every LeadCon! Right Kuya Jude? We are thankful for having these people speak and continue to inspire us 4th LeadCon delegates of what it takes to be a servant leader. Bottomline, whoever you are in the society – company Vice-President, bank Vice-President, debater, University Student Council President, regional party Chairperson, or a student, you can be a servant leader and make a difference to improve the lot of your fellow Filipinos.
Looking back, perhaps one of our greatest contributions in the history of LeadCon is our conference declaration. We have raised the bar and we definitely produced a very powerful statement that we, the youth is aware of the issues that the country and the world faces. That we demand for meaningful youth participation and we held the leaders accountable for their actions. When most student councils don’t have position on issues like the Maguindanao Massacre and emerging youth issues like debt and education, HIV/AIDS, and youth unemployment, we, as a collective body of student leaders from across Eastern Visayas was able to make a stand. Even up until today, most of us in the 4th LeadCon still carry these advocacies in whatever we do in and outside the university we studied. Roschelle carry it politically when she ran for public office. Wade’s tenure as Chairperson of the UP Tacloban Student Council mirrors his policies on these issues.
I am grateful to An Waray Partylist and the Sinirangan Bisayas Youth Organization for giving me such an experience of a lifetime! I am looking forward in the future for a LeadCon that is more diverse and inclusive of youth leaders in the community and in civil society. When we provide a platform for youth coming from these sectors to come together, we surely can imagine a better future for Eastern Visayas. To my fellow alumni, see you all in future homecomings and I hope we can collaborate in rebuilding our beloved Eastern Visayas recently ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan!
Feb 20, 2014
Its been more than three months since I last posted a blog here in Amplify. Typhoon Haiyan really devastated my city, Tacloban that up to now, we do not have electricity in my subdivision and internet access. I am writing my first blog this year in Indonesia as I attend the Green Climate Fund 6th Board Meeting. I am here along with our friends in the climate movement to demand climate justice and climate finance. Typhoon Haiyan is a blatant example on why we cannot delay for this thing to happen.
Back home, the situation remains problematic especially on how my government deals with the rehabilitation of schools. Last month, I had an interesting interview with U.P. Tacloban Student Council Chairperson Francisco Banguis, Jr on the current issues that the students of UP Tacloban is facing after Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated the school and Tacloban City last November 8, 2013 that claimed thousands of lives and left people homeless and deeply wounded.
As one of the affected schools in the city, U.P. Tacloban faced a plethora of problems and the last thing that we want to have is to be in a situation that we are left neglected by the University of the Philippines System. Of its seven constituent universities, all except our mother school U.P. Visayas have extended substantial help and assistance to students affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan. Our Chancellor spoke of the university’s inability to make an exhaustive assistance since almost all of its colleges across the Visayas islands were badly affected by the storm.
Having said that, our access to quality education and the services that comes with it is compromised. We were the only ones who did not leave the college to cross-enroll to other U.P. campuses since we did not have the capacity to cross-enroll financially, logistically and psychologically. We cannot afford to leave our families in such a ruined state. We cannot stand to part ways when we all know that we are all not okay. Most of us who opted to stay decided to help our families rebuild our lives, homes, and if possible our source of livelihood.
Since we were far from normalcy, the college opened the option for us to be re-bracketed in order to pay less tuition fees for the enrollment this second semester but the result is disheartening. Most of the students were just re-bracketed one step lower than their previous bracketings. Moreover, there is an issue on where the students will stay especially those that go home after classes and lives in far-flung areas since the transportation is not yet back to its normal schedule.
We have demanded that the Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines, the highest decision-making body in the U.P. System visit Tacloban to see with their own eyes the urgency of the matter to meet the needs not only of the students but also those of the employees and the faculty. So far, U.P. President Alfredo Pascual visited our campus. However, our demand for the B.O.R. to conduct a board meeting in Tacloban remains unanswered.
Feb 17, 2014
I recently had the privilege of receiving a scholarship to attend the last day of the inaugural “Time to THRIVE: HRC Foundation’s Inaugural National Conference Promoting Safety, Inclusion and Well-Being for LGBTQ Youth…Everywhere” here in Las Vegas, Nevada. The experience was one that serves as a reminder that our movement is nothing without our youth, a reminder that I hope the organizers keep with them as they plan next year’s conference.
They had made a plea for about 100 local youth to attend their last day which their ‘Youth Day’. I, of course, applied. I was excited to go and attend workshops that would help me widen my tool kit to serve fellow youth. Little did I know, youth were given TWO workshops to attend. The two workshops that youth were expected to go to were The Trevor Project’s Lifeguard Workshop for Youth and How To Have An Awesome GSA. Those were limiting for myself and the group of people that I attended with from our local LGBTQ Center. I’m a rebel, so I wandered off and attended the workshops that were geared towards adults and not at all inclusive of youth. While I went to other workshops, I quickly noticed that there seemed to be a lack of youth representation and voices in these workshops that were TALKING about how to better serve youth. I went in search of a people of color (POC) space after I attended my first workshop which was made up of almost entirely older white males. The POC workshop I found was hosted by an HRC employee that I am very fond of, and I found the most powerful and substantial number of young queer people of color in that room than I had the entire day I had been there.
Throughout the day, I was grateful I got the chance to have this experience. However, I couldn’t help feeling incredibly tokenized. We were the obligatory youth that they carted in on the last day of the conference, rather than having our voices present the entire time. If you are having a conference on how to better include, protect, and empower LGBTQ youth, you need to INCLUDE LGBTQ youth. While I know the conference was geared towards youth-serving professionals, we must not forget the youth-serving youth whom are out there doing the heavy work, not only for themselves, but for the youth that surround them.
I know that this is the first Time To Thrive, and I write this blog out of respect for the progress that this conference has and will hopefully continue to make. I hope that next year, the organizers will do a better job at including the local community and its youth for the entire conference, not just a divisive and condescending ‘youth day’. We cannot discredit or underestimate the amount of power that our youth and POC have. If we want to promote safety and inclusion of our young LGBTQ people, we need to include them in the process. Our collective movement is a better movement when we work hand-in-hand.
Feb 17, 2014
Blogging For Advocacy
Welcome to me in this new world of blogging which is not just intending for information share but to advocate the people about our surrounding condition and also to find the solutions for those problems and injustices regarding the issues of SHR and HIV/AIDS .
Blogging for advocacy is just new for me so I think that first knowing about this would be better to deliver my experience and research. So during this I had gone through some research about how could we advocate using blog and what should it require? So I tried to concise my findings so that it could may help for others as well.
Blog advocacy is using a blog to raise voice and make aware to the respondent about the situation of injustice. Blogging is a cheap and easy way to create a web site that addresses a particular an issue. Blogs have pre-existing templates that give the site a professional feel. They are also fairly easy to personalize with your own header graphic, colors, and fonts. Also, most blog platforms (for example, Blogger and Word Press) are free.
The word “advocacy” implies that you are speaking for someone else. But do you have the right or the permission to speak for that person or group? This is an important question to ask yourself before you start an advocacy blog.
If you are intimately involved with the cause you are advocating for, if the cause affects you personally or the injustice has occurred in the town or city in which you live, then you probably don’t need to worry about whether or not you have the right to start an advocacy blog. But if the issue is occurring in another country or affects someone that you do not know personally, it’s advisable to do some checking around before you begin your blog.
In case of expertise for the blogging, it’s totally the online platform which means it is created to use without any expertise to the blogging software platform. All you need is to be familiar with the platform and the language for the content.
Here I listed some of the entities that I found as the parameter for the good blog . I think it will certainly help to manage our contents in the blog and make it more effective.
- Good title: the main theme and the goal of the blog must be reflected by your title and its regarded to be short and simple to understand.
- Clear goal: what you want to deliver through the blog must be distinguished so that the reader could be interested to your content but the language and the pattern must be clear and concise.
- Divide the contents to the blocks: have to break your blog or article up into bites. If people see a lot of text without any sections, points, pull quotes, or other visual aids to break up the lengthy text, they tend to check out and move on.
- Keep suspense till the end: When reading a blog or article, most people make a decision in the first 1–2 sentences whether they will continue to read or not. Grab attention with your lead
- Remember Social media: Everything must be written with social media in mind. It’s helpful to include pull quotes that can be sent out through various social media channels as stand-alone pieces of content.
- Call readers to action: You always have to have a call to action. Every blog or article needs to have points that it makes, but without a call to action it cannot make a difference.
- Show and tell: Photos and images are key for the better representation of your content if available. Anytime you can add a photo, you increase readership. For example, on Facebook the photos are clicked on 10 times more than the statements, according to some reports.
- Be up to date and give up to date:
Blog is a great advocacy tool because it allows any individual with an Internet connection to launch a campaign for social change with a potentially global reach. It gives ordinary citizens incredible power to question authority, act as alternative sources of information, organize supporters, and lobby those in power.
Free and easy set-up is only one of the benefits of launching your cause on a blog. Blogs are also highly interactive. Each post, or article, has a section where site visitors can leave comments, allowing them to become a part of the site’s community and thus feel more engaged in your cause. In addition, blogs make it easy to work with multiple authors, allowing you to share the work of updating the blog. Finally, you can embed multimedia content – like photos, video, and audio – into your posts. This kind of eye-catching material is important to make the blog engaging and appealing to users.
Social change is at your finger tips
So Let’s talk as much as we can so that whole world could listen to our problems and know about our surroundings situation. Let’s start to BLOG FOR CAUSE.
Feb 15, 2014
Valentine’s Day. People seem to have this belief that you need a special someone in your life to validate you with candy and heart shaped stuff or it makes you hyper aware that you are lonely and single.
As women, we are especially prone to thinking we are supposed to feel like we are crazy in love or bitter, while eating a carton of ice cream on our couch feeling sorry for ourselves.
I’m not sure where these expectations of ourselves have evolved from, but I’m here to tell you the best news!!!
Why not love yourself today???
Earlier today, I wrote on my Facebook, something personal:
“Last Valentine’s Day, I didn’t love myself at all. This year, I love myself almost too much! <3 you Bree Bree!”
I think self-love is a beautiful thing. It’s taken me quite some time to realize that I’m awesome! Before, I felt really lonely, I was insecure, weak, doubtful of myself and my abilities and I absolutely hated looking in the mirror. I also relied heavily on someone else to tell me they loved me in order to feel worthwhile and validated.
Looking back at who I used to be and how I used to think of myself is not a great feeling, but I must acknowledge my old way of thinking in order to embrace my new, much happier thoughts!
These past few months, I have learned to be my own best friend, my own love and support system and to me, that’s the best gift I could give myself, ever! I don’t need to feel bad for being single. I surely don’t feel alone. Looking at myself and seeing how far I have succeeded in overcoming depression, self-hate, and sadness is so validating!!!
So, if you have a special partner or you’re flying solo this Valentine’s Day, I highly encourage you to reflect on self-love. Treat yourself to something nice. Why rely on someone else to give you flowers and chocolate when you can do the same for yourself? Why should we feel bad about rewarding and loving who we are?
Love yourself this Valentine’s Day! As a matter of fact, make a vow to love yourself everyday after that, too!!!
As Rupaul always says, “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
Can I seriously get an amen???
Feb 12, 2014
a quote by Laurie Penny
“Almost every time I speak to teenagers, particularly young female students who want to talk to me about feminism, I find myself staggered by how much they have read, how creatively they think and how curiously bullshit-resistant they are. Because of the subjects I write about, I am often contacted by young people and I see it as a part of my job to reply to all of them – and doing so has confirmed a suspicions I’ve had for some time. I think that the generation about to hit adulthood is going to be rather brilliant.
Young people getting older is not, in itself, a fascinating new cultural trend. Nonetheless the encroaching adulthood and the people who grew up in a world where expanding technological access collided with the collapse of the neoliberal economic consensus is worth paying attention to. Because these kids are smart, cynical and resilient, and I don’t mind saying that they scare me a little.”
I thought this was a powerful statement about the thoughts and actions of young people. It also brings to mind of Advocates for Youth’s three Rs: Rights, Respect, and Responsibility.
Feb 8, 2014
Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Instead of writing statistical facts about HIV/AIDS in the Black community, I will share a personal story of overcoming my fear of getting tested.
I became sexually active during my junior year of college. I read everything I could about sex and contraceptives before my encounter with my first partner. The consequences of possibly getting pregnant, contracting an STI or HIV was a risk I definitely reduced by using condoms and birth control.
So why was I so fearful of getting tested for HIV several months later?
At this point, I was heavily involved in sexual health groups on campus and was a member of the great Young Women of Color Leadership Council (shameless plug). I was an educator, and an advocate for sexual health, but I couldn’t bring it to myself to commit to getting tested.
I felt like a hypocrite.
While promoting National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on campus three years ago, I told myself to stop living in fear and to get tested. I was nervous all day. I sat in class thinking all about my sexual health and history. Sure, I had been tested for STI’s like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis at my school’s health center, but I felt so sure that I couldn’t possibly be HIV positive…
And that’s where the issue lies. The idea that I was so sure, so confident, so affirming of my status, that I had delayed getting tested. In reality, I had no clue. I made myself believe that being HIV positive couldn’t happen to me!
Later that evening, I walked into the testing site and performed a rapid HIV test. Although it said rapid, it felt like forever to hear the results. The man I sat with was extremely consoling and helpful. We chatted about sexual health and the work we do in our communities. His passion and support helped me through the wait.
At last, I got my results. I was negative. A lot of things ran through my mind: relief, happiness, tears of joy, but also guilt.
I felt guilty that someone might go in there and not hear the same results I did. I also felt guilty that I spoke on such a mighty pedestal and pressured my peers to get tested for HIV when I was afraid myself.
The day I got tested was a learning lesson for me. As young people, we often feel that we are invincible. Regardless of my knowledge about sexual health, it’s my duty first to make sure that I know my status. I felt like I couldn’t get HIV, but in reality, it was a possibility.
Be confident in knowing your status through getting tested every 6 months. Do not hesitate to ask your partner if they’ve been tested either. DO NOT allow anyone to make you feel bad about questioning their sexual health history. Include condom use along with other forms of contraceptives.
I can confidently share this advice because I am following it myself.
It’s time for us to stop living in the unknown.
Peace and love,
Feb 6, 2014
Piers Morgan continues to believe he’s in the right. This is his response to Janet Mock’s calling him out for the way he sensationalized her story and experiences.
Instead of really discussing her lived reality as a woman of color, especially as a trans woman of color, he obsesses over her past relationships and anatomy.
He told her: “…you used to be yourself a man.”
The on-screen captions of the discussion is ridiculous.
From a Buzzfeed article, Janet Mock says:
“My book is not about Aaron or my relationship, but that’s the most sensational thing they want to pull out,” she said. “They’re not talking about my advocacy or anything like that, it’s just about this most sensationalized … meme of discussion of trans women’s lives: ‘We’re not real women, so therefore if we’re in relationships with men we’re deceiving them.’ So, it just feeds into those same kinds of myths and fears that they spread around, which leads to further violence of trans women’s bodies and identities.”
The on-screen line that she “was a boy until age 18” reflected “bad judgment” and “reductive thinking about gender,” she said.
“What they’re saying is, ‘Only until I got the surgery, then I was a woman,’” she said.
But, she said, the interview — for better and worse — is part of want she chose to do by “going out of the bubble” and being public with her story.
“This is my first mainstream television show, was that moment, with Piers Morgan, and you see what they did to my story. Compared to a moment if I’m on Melissa Harris-Perry, which is slightly different, a more sensitive and safe space. But I go onto Piers Morgan, and all of my followers and everyone are like, ‘What is this?’” she said. But, she noted, “It’s also more representative of the ignorance that there is about trans people’s lives. We’re out of the safe bubble of social justice.”
On that same Buzzfeed article, you’ll see many of the responses Piers Morgan vomited on Twitter.
One example being: “As for all the enraged transgender supporters, look at how STUPID you’re being. I’m on your side, you dimwits. @janetmock”
Feb 4, 2014
Recently fans and non fans of MTV’s Teen Mom 2 show found out that one of the cast members, Jenelle Evan’s, had an abortion. There were many mixed reactions ranging from support to anything but support and everything in between. I applaud Jenelle for being open and standing up for herself and her reproductive decisions. Jenelle maintains that she does not regret her abortion and feels it was the correct decision for her since she was in a ‘bad place’ when she was pregnant.
Jan 30, 2014
This month I planned my Passion Project which I will be focusing on for the first half of 2014. It is centered on providing people with information on contraceptive access, and bringing awareness to my campus about ways the students can protect themselves. I plan to table on campus weekly for two consecutive months in order to reach a minimum of 200 people. During these tabling events I will have one on one peer education sessions, a question box, interactive training, and giveaways. Most excitingly, I will be gaining more support for the Healthy Teens Campaign. February and March are going to be productive months, and I most look forward to seeing the positive impact that educated youth will have on our communities.
Jan 29, 2014
We teach young men to be prepared, to be assertive, to choose their own destiny. And yet, too often when it comes to making decisions about their reproductive futures we haven’t delivered the message that they need to step up. When 38% of young men have a fatalistic view about contraception’s effect on fertility and pregnancy* or 53% are ambivalent about becoming a father*, it’s clear we haven’t told young men they can play an active role in determining when, how, or if they want to become fathers. Furthermore, or health care system hasn’t addressed the issue when you consider the fact that primary care providers are 3 times more likely to take sexual health histories from female than male patients and twice as likely to counsel female patients on the use of condoms*.
Luckily, organizations like A Step Ahead Foundation are ready to change the tune. After a year of operating with the primary focus on providing free long-acting reversible contraception to women in Shelby County Tennessee, ASAF staff recognized that young men were just as interested in information about effective pregnancy prevention methods as young women. The only problem was, there weren’t too many resources for talking to guys about what their options are.
Taking matters into their own hands they created The Man On Campaign, a movement to get young men up to speed on birth control choices — including abstinence. The goal is to give guys the tools to build healthy relationships and start conversations with their partners about birth control or sexually transmitted infections. At The Sexy Ed guys can find out where to get free condoms in Memphis, be directed to HIV testing centers in their area, get support in making the decision to wait, or find some dating advice by yours truly. In addition the campaign will grow to engage young men across Shelby County with posters, booklets, and social media engagement.
Perhaps it won’t stop there. This is merely a great step forward in a revolution of educators, resources, leaders, and health care providers ready to engage young men in sexual and reproductive health. What can you do to encourage guys to take their futures into their own hands? What else is out there that you’ve seen? What do you want others to do? Young men are out there and ready. Like A Step Ahead Foundation and the Man On Campaign, let’s do our part to support them.
Jan 23, 2014
Adrian Nava (18 years old) and Scarlett Jimenez (18 years old)
Colorado Youth CREATE Council Members
As educators, advocates, and allies of sexual health, we often ask ourselves why we are still having conversations about the implementation and support of comprehensive sexuality education for young people across the nation. For a lot of us, the issue of reproductive rights and justice is one that hits very close to home. As advocates, our stories and personal experiences hold immense power in our work. They allow us to break down barriers when interacting with others, and to create room for meaningful human connections and a space to share why we are so passionate about the work we do.
We share our stories with the hope that we will create awareness and support for comprehensive sex education. Having personal stories that reflect a lack of inclusion of all sexual orientations, or lack of information about healthy relationships and self–esteem, we – Scarlett and Adrian – understand and are optimal examples of why sexual health education is essential for all youth. During our years in advocacy, we have both been exposed to a world of possibilities, and have actively participated in various levels of advocacy.
From local to national participation, both of us have had the opportunity to express ourselves as young people. During the 2013 legislative session at Colorado’s State Capitol, we were actively involved in advocating for the passage of House Bill 1081, what has become known as Colorado’s “updated sex ed law.” We wanted to make sure that young people’s voices and concerns were included throughout the process. As part of CREATE, a youth advocacy council sponsored by Colorado Youth Matter and Advocates for Youth, we testified in favor of the bill during committee hearings and organized a youth advocacy day, which brought more than 230 youth to the capitol to speak to their legislators about the importance of passing laws that increase access to comprehensive sex education.
I consider myself an advocate not only for programs and policies that promote youth sexual health, but for change founded on social justice principles. As an advocate, a person of color, and someone who identifies as gay, I remember sitting in a crowded 7th grade health class during my glorious awkward pre-pubescent years, asking myself what the ladies at the front of the room were talking about. It turns out that these women were teaching the girls how to say “NO” to males who would only want to have sex with females. I then realized that this uncomfortable discussion was actually part of a “sexual health” class. Yikes! This situation was uncomfortable not only because I did not know what sexual health education looked like, but because I was being targeted as a male. I was expected to insist on having sexual intercourse with women. I was ultimately astonished and speechless at the sexist, and judgmental tone that was being set within a classroom environment.
As a student, I was genuinely eager to learn about what was going on inside of my body and mind. But after much talk about “male and female relationships,” I asked the teachers if it was possible for two boys to be together, and the teachers ignored my question and moved on to talk about the importance of abstaining from having sex.
I began to feel like it was wrong to ask that question – which meant that something about me was wrong, since I was attracted to people of the same gender as me. The following day, my peers and I participated in an activity in which one person was assigned to be a person with “AIDS.” To my surprise, that person was me. I learned later that gay men are stereotyped as having HIV, which only deteriorated my self-esteem and self-love because I was not exposed to positive messages about LGBT people.
My negative experience of feeling ignored and stigmatized in the classroom is the reason I became actively involved in advocacy work for increased access to comprehensive sex education. I was made to feel ashamed of being gay, which harmed my emotional health for a long period of time. I wish I could have received comprehensive, inclusive, medically accurate, age-appropriate information about my body and mind – but I didn’t.
However, just because my school did not provide me with that education, it does not mean that future generations should not have access. I am completely in love with my advocacy work and impacting my generation, for the better. I find empowerment through making my voice heard and mobilizing young people to speak about and advocate for their sexual health.
I am an advocate for comprehensive sex education and reproductive rights and justice for young people, because I believe that the issues at hand should be considered as part of our basic human rights. I believe that young people should have the right to have access to accurate information about their bodies. Furthermore, youth deserve the opportunity to develop the life skills that are included in comprehensive sexuality education. I believe that my high school experience would have been a much happier and more successful time had that been included as part of my education.
On a daily basis, young women are bombarded with highly sexualized messages from the media that dictate the social norms. I think that it is absolutely essential for young women to learn that these messages are disempowering and are not actual expectations of women. All youth, regardless of their gender, deserve to hear that they are much more valuable than the media depicts them. High school is such a hectic and overwhelming stage for teens. Oftentimes, teens do not receive much needed positive and empowering messages about themselves or young people in general. I know that for myself, low sense of self-worth and a lack of basic sexual health information and the ability to communicate with my partner led me into an unsafe relationship and a very hard time in my life.
I am an advocate for comprehensive sexuality education, and all that it entails, because now I have a vision for future generations. Creating access to comprehensive sex education can inform and support youth to be empowered, inclusive, educated, compassionate, communicative, strong, and driven by their identified passions and goals.
Jan 23, 2014
As I transitioned from high school to college, I thought that my student outreach efforts on behalf of Colorado Youth CREATE would get easier. With a bigger campus, more people, and more freedom, I reasoned that I would easily be able to reach more people to join our youth activist network and support our cause of increasing the availability of comprehensive sex education on local and state levels. However, I soon realized that the climate of students at my private university was very conservative and not very supportive of sexual health education. This was something that I found to be completely ironic because people are definitely “doing it,” and people are definitely gossiping about it. But no one wants to discuss safe sex, healthy relationships, or sexual assault.
The first few times that I tried to talking to some people I met in college about my work with CREATE it did not go well. They stopped me mid-sentence and told me that I was wasting my breath because they had conservative values. In another instance, someone physically put their hand over my mouth and told me, “Stop. Just tell me if you’re from an abortion clinic because I don’t want to hear it!” Even when I was able to get through my one minute spiel about being an advocate for comprehensive sexual health education, I was often met with very judgmental stares and gaping mouths, as if I had just confessed that I was drug lord. People at my school felt uncomfortable with my messages and I was beginning to be labeled and dismissed as the “raging liberal.”
I realized that I needed to change my approach. I knew that the issues I was talking about are things that we all face, both as young people at this university and in this world. To me, the issues that I advocate for are about human rights—the right to identify however we choose to identify and love whoever we may love. The right that we, as citizens, have to access to affordable health care and services. And the right that we, as young people, have to receive truthful, medically accurate and culturally inclusive education. I realized that I needed to frame my message in a way that was not received as a partisan issue, and instead illustrate how comprehensive sex education truly affects and concerns us all.
I was received much better when I used a more holistic and rights-based approach with my audience. Below are a few strategies that I developed in order to reframe my advocacy message about the need for comprehensive sex education:
1. Cultural Competency/ Sensitivity- Always Walk Your Talk!
It is important to keep in mind that people may come from different backgrounds or have different ideologies from your own when you’re doing outreach. Just like in a comprehensive sex education class, your conversation should recognize what the other person values! For example, if the person you are talking to has chosen to abstain until marriage, note that that’s great for them- abstinence is the only way to prevent unplanned pregnancies and STIs. However, you will both be able to agree that not everyone will share that decision. You can point to the national rate of teen pregnancy and talk about how comprehensive sex education not only can help reduce that number but also includes a strong abstinence message.
2. Personalize Your Message!
If you feel comfortable and safe enough, share a story as to why you do the work that you do. This helps transform the issues into something very human and relatable. Through storytelling, your message is framed in a way that shows the effect that sexual health has on everyday people.
3. Keep The Door Open For Conversation
No issue is easy or black and white. Allow for discussion about the issues, as long as it remains respectful and non-intrusive to you and your personal space. I have found that in some situations it is very important to draw this line, like when I felt disrespected for just defending myself. Openly discussing your issue creates an opportunity to learn about what is valuable and important to the other individual while also sharing what is important and valuable to you. Both parties can end up a little more enlightened about different perspectives from even a short exchange of ideas. You may not always agree, but you may find that they, and others alike, will be more willing to approach you later about the issue. Look for common ground in some aspect of sexual health and go from there!
In the past few weeks that I have adopted these ideas, I have found that the people I talk to are a lot more receptive and the conversations I have are a lot more meaningful. Even though we as advocates often find ourselves in communities that are not supportive of our issues, this is the place where change happens. Being in this tough environment these last few months has reminded me about the importance of my work, and I see every new day as an opportunity to further our cause. CREATE is working on developing tools to support young people and their advocacy efforts in the community, so stay tuned!
Jan 22, 2014
(reposted from USAToday, David Jackson, click for original and full post – Image of President Obama: Charles Dharapak – AP)
President Obama has put out his annual statement on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, praising the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that struck down anti-abortion laws.
“We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom,” Obama said in a statement.
The president said he also wants to re-affirm commitments to “reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children.”
Jan 17, 2014
Just recently, I made a trip to the gynecologist to get a refill of my preferred birth control. I have the privilege of having insurance that requires no copay for appointments as such, and I had the privilege of getting into this doctor’s office within a month of calling. For my low-income neighborhood (see: health disparities), that was pretty quick. I was hoping for a quick appointment as well – sit down, update the doctor, get my prescription, and be on my way.
I haven’t been to this doctor in almost a year, but she had performed a pap smear and pelvic exam last visit. I also had no real changes between then and now. An added tidbit of information, I also just got a pelvic exam in the emergency room three months ago (unrelated, was nothing serious). I let the nurse know this, and I also informed her that I haven’t had any symptoms or real trouble. The doctor comes in, talks to me for a bit, and then instructs me to strip. The dreaded pelvic exam. The dreaded pelvic exam that I had just three months ago. When I protested and asked why she was doing a pelvic exam, I was told it is required to prescribe birth control. However, I had just been to the health district where they prescribed me birth control without me even taking my clothes off. I’d also like to note that my gynecologist did not ONCE ask me if I was sexually active, had been having unprotected sex, or if I’d like to get tested for HIV/STI’s, while the health district spent a good amount of time making sure they were fully aware of all my risk factors, and I was aware of the resources available to me.
I am seventeen, was in the office without a parent, and I did as instructed, not that I had much opportunity to do anything else. While still in the office, I decided to Google if pelvic exams are really required for birth control, contrary to my previous experience at the health district, only to find a massive online community outraged at the unnecessary pelvic exams women across the country are being forced into if they want a birth control prescription. According to a 2010 study, 1/3rd of of doctors and advanced nurses required pelvic exams before they would administer or prescribe hormonal birth control. Regardless of the fact thatguidelines, studies, and experts have stated that pelvic exams are unnecessary.
Unnecessary pelvic exams are hindering in so many different ways. If a woman goes into her gynecologist to try to get a birth control prescription and is met with the unexpected price of a pelvic exam (around $350 in my experiences), this can keep the woman from obtaining birth control. My vagina, my rules, right? The simplest saying that carries the most weight, right? The simplest saying that is often betrayed by health care providers, particularly in marginalized communities. Minority groups and marginalized communities will not always have the means to pay for a pelvic exam. This puts women at risk of unintended and teen pregnancy, a problem that disproportionately affects communities of color. People of color are more likely to live in poverty which results in a probability that they would not be able to afford an unnecessary pelvic exam just so they can get birth control.
When it comes to effective birth control, we must do everything in our power to make it as easily attainable as possible. The fact is, pelvic exams often scare the young women I have encountered out of going to their doctors for birth control. I am still shocked by the fact that my gynecologist required a pelvic exam when I had just been prescribed birth control via the health district with NO pelvic exam necessary. These are the barriers that stand in the way of our young women and their reproductive health and choice. Women that do want birth control are often afraid or unable to obtain it because of things like mandated pelvic exams that raise appointments costs exponentially and leave women feeling like they have no choice but to lay back and allow it. I couldn’t help but feel slightly violated after my gynecology appointment, but more than violated, I was angry. I am angry that other people with vaginas are being forced to have unnecessary, highly invasive, uncomfortable exams that they can’t afford just to exercise their right to obtain birth control.
As with any issue, we need to speak up, speak loud, and speak truth. My body is not something for private doctor offices to turn a profit on. My body is not a vessel for your unnecessary medical treatments performed in keeping with tradition. I refuse to be quiet about this. Birth control should be accessible to all, without fear. I am speaking out, and I am not speaking alone.
Jan 13, 2014
When I’m in feminist/activist spaces I’m always hesitant to voice my concerns on discourses on and about white feminism and white-savior complexes. As a radical feminist (I’ve decided I’m beyond progressive), I think that sometimes these notions are not fully explored. As a woman of color, raised by women of color, white women always belonged in that social-worker box for me (trust there is no shortage of white women there). In college these women took on a different role, they were the “bearers of knowledge,” they were my professors. However, learning about and from white women played a crucial role in my educational attainment and the cultivation of the activist I have become. Don’t get it twisted for 2.0 seconds, I will call a white feminist on her power and privilege in a second, but I believe that in this movement there is more work to do. Yes this means work for us women of color, and I’m starting by acknowledging the roles that white women have played in my life good or bad.
In college I was a part of a program called the Higher Educational Opportunity Program (HEOP), which was the crucial to my success and graduation from Syracuse University. This program financed my education but also provided the social-emotional support fundamental to my survival in the institution. My academic counselor, Marian, provided this support. When I first met Marian, I did not completely understand how our relationship would work. For starters she was a white woman. Secondly, I was expected to meet with her frequently and talk about stuff. Again, I did not see how this was going to work. To my surprise, I would grow to love her, and love her hard. I recently had a conversation about “chosen families.” Basically they are families that you are not born into but ones that you create who love and accept you as if you were family. I’ve built a chosen family, not by choice but out of survival. Lately, I’ve been interrogating my support systems and how they have helped me healed. Today, I explored my chosen-mother, who ironically has the same first name as my biological mom who passed away when I was one. Her name is Marian, and she is not only a support but also an integral part of my activist work.
As I stated before, I initially wasn’t hip to this relationship. That would change. For a while I developed a color-blind ideology with Marian, not because I wanted to assume a level playing field, but it made it easier for me to love her. Institutionally and personally, white women had been connected too much of the pain that I experienced growing up, whether intentionally or by solely being ABSENT and a figment of my imagination. So if I could see this person that I had come to know and love as “just like me,” I would not have to acknowledge this trauma. But in the same ways I did not want to acknowledge these differences, Marian did. She didn’t do it in ways like my peers, unbeknownst of their privilege, but in ways that said “my whiteness has colored my experiences and those of my colleagues in a ways much different than yours and that I MUST acknowledge.”
I never felt compelled to teach her about my oppression although I often did…..
In academic/activist spaces many of us feel that we need to tell white folks the 411, and we have learned that this can lead to secondary trauma, serious burn-out and a path to no where. I re-learn this lesson everyday. However, I never felt that I needed to “put Marian on” to the daily wrath of oppression that I was experiencing. First, she had heard it for years before I became her student and secondly her and other counselors made it their business to know about the challenges their students were facing. I was taken aback about the fact that Marian never used “disparity” language and flat out named the systems as they were: racist, sexist and classist. She also provided me with a space to be unrelenting and unapologetic about my past and present experiences. As a social worker in training, I can attest to the fact that I would lay on the biographical trauma that is my life real thick on a snowy Wednesday. She never silenced me and would even move her other appointments when I was in crisis.
She wasn’t interested in “saving me”….
As a white woman who is an academic counselor to “economically and academically” disadvantaged students it is easy to see how one could apply the white-savior trope to someone like her. Don’t, I’d straight up fight you. Perhaps the most important thing that I learned from HEOP, was how to save myself. It was first by learning that it was not my fault! That because I did not look like 80% of the incoming class, did not mean I did not belong there. In fact, it was her pushing and believing in me when I felt I could not believe in myself. She always held me accountable for my actions. I did not feel accountable to her because she was my “academic counselor” or a person in power; it was because of her love and her belief in my talents that gave me no other choice. Imagine a world where love and solidarity, make us hold each other accountable.
She understood that my education was more than coursework…
At some point in college I became a community activist and campus leader. These things became just as important as my Women’s Studies courses and my organic chemistry classes. At 19, a fellow classmate and myself, decided to build a grassroots organization for girls in Syracuse from the ground up. We had people that doubted us, one most embedded in my memory, a white woman in the community service field. Marian backed my project emotionally and financially. She connected me with community resources and found ways for me to use my education at Syracuse to support my social entrepreneurship. She helped me be the BOSS I was destined to be. She understood that the work I did on and off campus fed-me intellectually in ways that the classroom could not.
She pulled me by my the “bootstraps” til’ completion…
Lets be real…some of us do not make it unfortunately. Although I will have you know, HEOP students have a 6.5% higher graduation rate than the national average. There are a host of things that keep young people from completing their education. These include financial barriers, academic rigor, institutional and interpersonal oppression, and lack of support. I’d say while all are extremely important, it is almost impossible to get through college without support. For an orphan like me hailing from the then poverty stricken and violence-infested neighborhood of Bed-Stuy (now up & coming = read gentrifying) this could not be more true. However for me, the perils that would impede on my education became even more real while at college. In my sophomore year, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, that caused me to visit the hospital over 20+ times. As much as I want to stand on a soapbox and tell students with chronic illnesses that you can do it because I did, I know that I did not get through this by myself. Without the unwavering support of friends, family, professors and Marian the completion of my degree would have not been fulfilled in the time it did. I say she pulled me by bootstraps, because it was just that. She pulled me by something I did not have, she pulled me from nothingness. She nursed me to back to emotional health when I had to accept taking an extra semester to finish what I had started. She forced me to put my pride aside, value my worth and be unapologetic about both my abilities and differently-abledness. She worked above and beyond her job description.
We all have different experiences, many of them traumatic; I try to stay away from twitter for that exact reason. But some of us have had positive experiences that may act as a glimmer of hope into a feminist future. I am a more fearless and unapologetic person because of her. When I am in a room of white women, I am unafraid. I hold white women accountable, because I know it is not impossible to be in solidarity with them, and even more to love them and them love me. In 2014, I am calling for a feminism that radically shifts the divisions and adjective-feminism (Transnational feminism, hip-hop feminism, Muslim feminism, etc.) that we know and embrace today. I am calling for the one that is affirming of our multiple identities, positions of power and experiences of oppression. I am calling for a feminism that allowed this Black girl from Bed-Stuy to learn to love a white woman, and call her my chosen-mother. However, this post isn’t about hope or solidarity, it is about my unwavering and unapologetic love for a woman, that because of all things wrong and oppressive in this world, I had to learn to love! And I do and will forever love her!
Jan 3, 2014
Why 2014 Could Be A Huge Turning Point For Reproductive Rights
Roe v. Wade will mark its 41st birthday later this month, amid ever-increasing assaults on reproductive rights across the nation. According to the latest report from the Guttmacher Institute, states have imposed a staggering 205 abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013. That legislation has attacked access to abortion from all angles — targeting providers and clinics, driving up the cost of abortion for the women who need it, making women travel farther and wait longer to get medical care, and outright banning the procedure. Since 2000, the number of states that Guttmacher defines as being “hostile” to abortion rights has spiked from 13 to 27.
That’s left abortion rights advocates on the other side, working hard to stem the tide of anti-choice attacks. Constantly warding off restrictive legislation hasn’t left much space for proactive policies to expand women’s reproductive freedom, like expanding access to maternity care or making family planning services more accessible to low-income women. Most of the headlines about abortion issues are bleak.
But there may be a shift on the horizon.
Jan 2, 2014
Happy New Year To All ! ^^
Well, it really is a blessing to be able to live within another year. I have heard a lot of people saying that this year they will be different, or they’re on the journey of recreating themselves. All cliched statements, but hey, at least they have a resolution.
For me, I am entering the year blind. Sure, its mandatory to have certain goals to achieve, and many things to attain, but this year, its going to be an adventure. No longer will I sit at 12am , on January 1st tallying false promises I know I will not keep.
This year I am going to :
- Be the real me…no longer confused or dictated by societal norms
-Be ruthless…going after what I want regardless of all the glitches, ditches, obstacles…yea and all those barriers
-Be mindful….I may not agree with a lot, but I will stand to respect what others believe suits them
- Think BIG ….2014 is a big picture year! Its time to rise out of my restricted thinking, and venture into new territory. (maybe even forbidden ones) .#NotTooWild
-Trust in God…as always this one always has to be apart of the whatever plans I have. Last year I faltered, but not this year.
Customarily, we reflect on what the previous year has done for us, and what we have done for ourselves in the previous year, but lets not sit and debate on the past. Lets move ahead, with new motivation, new goals, a new spirit, as 2014 calls for both internal and external innovation, tenacity, consciousness, and an excellent foresight.
Make It your Year. They said that with the New Year came a New Moon, lets Illuminate, Inspire and Shine within circles of darkness.
A blessed New Year to All.
Jan 1, 2014
There’s much to learn from the inspired words of certain songs. The words contained in these powerful songs carry tremendous meaning. They are words that inspire, express, and challenge. There’s something special about a thought provoking message that you can hum along to, or in the case of Digable Planet’s “La Femme Fetal,” bob your head along to. I stumbled across this 90s era group not too long ago and instantly fell in love with their lyrical poetry that effortlessly wrapped itself around smooth and mellow beats. Out of the many songs of theirs that I quite enjoyed, “La Femme Fetal” especially struck a chord with me due to its enlightened lyrics. The song highlights several social issues, but focuses primarily on abortion. It tells the tale of a woman, pregnant and frightened by the hateful and judgmental antics of anti-abortion promoters, speaking to a trusted male confidant about her internal struggles with her decision to abort.
What I love about this song is his well-thought out response. He points out some of the hypocrisy of the group that harasses her. Furthermore, he acknowledges the misogyny that taints much of this position against a woman’s right to choice. He supports his friend and her and her partner’s ability to realize that they are presently unable to provide for a child in a proper and ideal manner. Hearing these positions from a male’s point of view is quite refreshing and enjoyable. However, there is one line in particular in this song that I love. After he has given his friend his opinion, he tells her that “whatever you decide make that move with pride.” Make that move with pride. I think this line is beautiful and is one to be promoted with the pro-choice and sexual health movement. Whatever it is that you decide to do with your body, make that move with pride. It is your body and your life, and nobody has the ability to know what is good for you like you do. So I give a head nod to Digable Planets and my fellow advocates and say, make that move with pride.
Jan 1, 2014
The Righteous Retreat that was going to be held at Nottoway Plantation, a place full of triggering thoughts and connections to slavery used to host a feminist singer-songwriter event, was thankfully canceled by Ani DiFranco. What has transpired this last few weeks was another display of racism from white feminists failing to check their privilege. It was a clear obliviousness of the essential need for intersectionality. Since the official announcement of the venue, justifiable outrage from women of color feminists were heard but were also dismissed with the usual claims that lacked understanding and critical thinking: “You’re perpetuating racism!/We can reclaim this piece of history!” Women of color feminists, specifically black feminists and women, were told to “get over it. Slavery’s done with.”
The venue for the Righteous Retreat and Twitter gave birth to another great satirical hashtag, #AniDiFrancoRetreatIdeas, where many progressive individuals shared their witty and snarky jabs at such a clueless slip up.
Call outs were found in the comments of the Facebook event page, and as a response to the criticism, there was one person in particular named Mandi Harrington who took the extra step to maintain supremacy and dismiss the words of black women. She created a black woman persona, stealing some black woman’s photo and created her own name to defend her comments. But what she thought was a vernacular black women used was actually her own racist projections.
And what has been Ani Difranco’s response to all of this? Well, it was certainly a long one–almost too long for what should have been a simple and succinct, “I’m sorry. I messed up.” What should have been an apology ended up being explanation without any responsibility or blame from her part and feeling more grieved by this lost opportunity rather than true empathy for those who have been truly hurt from this incident. Her full explanation can be read here.
Dec 31, 2013
After Michigan House and Senate’s shameful support of a law that would force burial and cremation costs on those who sought abortions, they decided the next step would be to establish a “rape insurance” for people who have the ability to get pregnant earlier this month. The bill is infamously known as Michigan’s Rape Insurance bill, the actual name being The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act. It places a ban on private insurance companies from covering abortion. This forces women into buying extra coverage for their abortion care on top of their paid plans. What’s more is that this legislation has no exceptions for rape or incest. And the coverage can’t be purchased during a pregnancy, it has to be bought prior to one–because those who have the ability to become pregnant are in a constant state of being pre-pregnant.
The Guttmacher Institute’s research in payment for abortion shows that almost 70% of women pay out of their own pockets for this medical procedure, and almost 52% of those women found it difficult to pay. So, what’s to become of that 52%? What’s to become of those who already can’t pay for the treatment they need? We already live in a system that routinely and unapologetically ignore the needs of the people. It’s not just a limiting of our right to the health care we need. It’s one more step to further marginalizing those who are already feeling the burden of an oppressive, unfree economy.
Not all are sitting idly while outside groups and politicians pushed for this. Michigan Senator Gretchen Whitmer shared her own thoughts in a Huffington Post blog:
“I shared my story of being sexually assaulted because even if it wouldn’t give my Republican colleagues pause to reconsider the vote they were about to take, I at least wanted them to, for the first time, have to directly consider the consequences of their actions and see that those being hurt by it aren’t anonymous faces, but friends, family and, yes, even their colleagues on the Senate floor.
What’s too easily dismissed in these types of discussions is that this issue is not simply about pro-choice or pro-life, it is about interfering with contracts between women and our health care providers. This new law forbids private insurance companies from covering abortions unless a woman buys additional and preemptive coverage, even in the case of rape, incest, or even medically necessary dilation and curettage (D & C) procedures for planned pregnancies that went wrong.
This measure is extreme, ignorant and insultingly misogynistic. I’m disgusted to say that it is now the law of the land in Michigan, but how it became law is just as offensive as the law itself.
Right to Life of Michigan, an extremist special-interest group with significant financial backing from a select few secretive donors, has pushed for this law twice before. Both times they failed, as two different Republican Governors stood up to them and vetoed it. In fact, in explaining his veto of this measure earlier this year, Governor Rick Snyder, someone I don’t often agree with, rightly stated, “I don’t believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage.”
But instead of admitting defeat, Right to Life took their crusade even further. They exploited an obscure loophole in Michigan’s Constitution that allowed them to bypass the governor’s veto entirely, as well as the will of the people, by securing the signatures of only four percent of Michigan’s population to bring a so-called “citizens’ initiative” before the legislature and then flexed their political muscle over the Republican majority, forcing them to immediately vote it into law.”
Dec 30, 2013
Buffer zone laws are meant to serve the simple purpose of aiding legal protection to abortion access and vary state to state, even country to country. They are viewed as bordering provisions for anti-abortion speakers and protestors to not infringe on the safety and well-being of an abortion provider’s patients and staff. In a few weeks, the Massachusetts buffer zone law will be heard in the Supreme Court, with anti-abortion activists and abortion activists ready and waiting. Reporters have already covered both sides of the story, and everyone in the reproductive justice community in Massachusetts is keeping a close eye on this decision.
With the Supreme Court hearing on Jan. 15, I wonder how the verdict will turn out. While anti-abortion activists will claim freedom of speech and assembly, these freedoms are not justified with previous histories of aggression, violence, and libel nationwide.
For those who work at the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, this decision hits close to home. Nearly two decades ago, a shooter entered a Planned Parenthood in Brookline, Massachusetts, and killed two people and wounded five others. As a result, Planned Parenthood moved to a new location, but the memory of those who died and were affected by this tragic incident sparked a movement to further protect staff and patients in abortion-providing settings.
Fast forward to 2013, and as I walk into Planned Parenthood for my internship, I see signs of defaced babies and crowds of people distributing anti-abortion material. The amount of anti-abortion activism varies, but it’s enough to know that the anti-abortion movement is strong in Massachusetts.
Let’s see what the new year brings.
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 29, 2013
We are People of Color. We didn’t choose to be, but we love our cultures. Because of our skin, we have added struggles. In our safe spaces, we have every right to feel welcomed and not tokenized, harassed or ignored. We ask for you to listen to us when we speak about racism because we are being effected by it daily. This video is a compilation of things actually said to POC involved in activism and social justice.
We want to be heard, listen to us.
Dec 27, 2013
I am a pretty big fan of sitting at home with food and shows to binge on. And East Los High caught my full and undivided attention. I’m not normally into soapy teen dramas, but the problems teens face everyday, especially teens of color in neighborhoods like East Los, were real.
While many find sex and the details of it to still be taboo to discuss, teens are left without the rights and respect to get the knowledge they need to better protect themselves. I found it so refreshing to find a series that is easily relatable, stimulating, and educational. Oh, and guess what? Characters in the show can actually say the word “abortion.” There wasn’t a Voldemort treatment of an actual medical procedure that one out of three women in the United States will experience in their lifetime. Even better, several choices and paths that follow unprotected sex are explored and tidbits of helpful sexual health facts and info are casually placed into the dialogue. There’s even brief but impactful conversations on masculinity and gender roles in regards to safe sex throughout the show.
I had a Hulu Plus account and was fortunately able to view the “Hulu exclusive” series, but anyone can watch the full episodes on the East Los High website. It’s a good and fairly accessible teen drama with lots of examples and lessons to share. There are little whispers about a second season to appear, and I am excitedly waiting. Not everyone shared my enthusiasm for the show though. An online “news” article from Life Site News expressed an opinion:
Planned Parenthood’s has its guns aimed squarely at Hispanic teens, as it continues its latest foray into eugenic targeting via an unbelievably salacious novella featuring an all-Latino/Latina cast…
What kind of public service is done by the airing of this trashy novella directed to Hispanic teens? And just what is the “moral” of Episode 1? Finish the dance with your boyfriend before dashing to the car to have sex with someone else? Watch out when you have sex in a car because someone may be videotaping you? Being voted Winter Queen will make you extremely popular on the hookup circuit?
How can anyone even use the word “moral” in connection with this series?
There are some other significant things that this writer neglects to mention besides the awesome sexual health info and examples found throughout the series. East Los High is the first English language show with an all Latino cast. And what is even better is that the cast defies the mainstream roles that Latino people are often forced into. For something like this to be left out in this diatribe is quite telling of the kind of perspective the writer has, especially with the condescending and twisted but very nonexistent link between the show and fictitious eugenic attempts.
Miriam Perez, a past contributor on Racialicious, Feministing, and RHRealityCheck, has written on this topic of anti-choice movements making it seem like they care about women of color. Her post was originally found on RHRealityCheck, but I pulled it off Racialicious. From the succinct and eloquent post Worried About Women of Color? Thanks, But No Thanks, Anti-Choicers. We’ve Got It Covered:
At first glance, it’s nice to see the anti-choice community pretending to care about communities of color. But within a few minutes, the skepticism sets in. What’s really behind these tactics, coming from a group that is majority white, middle-class and Christian? In the end, we know this isn’t actually about women of color and their well-being. It’s a sensationalist attempt to pit women of color against the reproductive rights movement. Classic divide and conquer…
We’ve fought back against governmental policies like welfare family caps and limits on access to certain types of contraception over others. We’ve fought with the reproductive rights community to get them to care about these issues and how they affect our communities—and we’ve won.
We’re fighting for access to contraception, to abortion, to options for childbirth and parenting. And now we’ll fight the racist and paternalistic logic behind the eugenics arguments being made by anti-choicers.
Life Site News has urged concerned citizens to call Hulu’s corporate headquarters at 310-571-4700 to remove the series and to make sure a second season contract cannot be extended. Please use the number to the opposite.
(This has also been posted on my blogs FanTalk and STFU, Pro-Lifers.)
Dec 21, 2013
And read the report itself here.
Dec 17, 2013
So, I was returning to Delhi on 11th December, 2013. We were a company of 6 people returning from a friend’s wedding. We were exhausted and trying not to look too tired on reaching the Delhi outskirts as we had offices or classes to attend.
I can still remember the moment so vividly when one of the people got dropped, my friend moved to the front of the car to make himself more comfortable, I did not wish to open my eyes when I heard someone switch on mobile, the twing of a whats app message and my friend announcing:
I am a criminal now!
Was it his announcement or the quietness of the moment or the dramatic mathod of delivery that got to us but something did because the quiet moment changed into one of activity where some laughed as they thought he was joking, someone else wanted to know what did he mean while I for once started checking my mobile hoping to understand what did he mean.
He was speaking about the Indian Supreme court verdict on Section 377. So a quick social media search got me these updates:
#377updates Six things you should know after the Supreme Court verdict on Section 377, Indian Penal Code: [credit - Varta]
a) On December 11, 2013, the Supreme Court reversed the Delhi High Court ruling on Section 377, which means this law is back in force, as it was till before July 2, 2009.
b) Section 377 criminalizes any sexual act that does not involve penile-vaginal penetration. It applies to all people, irrespective of their gender identity or sexual orientation. That means straight people are also affected by this law, and not just those who are homosexual, bisexual or transgender in orientation.
c) Section 377 in itself does not mean that you can be arrested for simply being or saying you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Hijra or Kothi. Your freedom of expression is not under threat.
d) Arrest under this law requires medical forensic evidence of specific sexual acts having taken place – oral, anal or other non penile-vaginal sexual acts.
e) You cannot be arrested for being in a declared or undeclared same-sex relationship. Strict material evidence of specific sexual acts will be necessary for arrest.
f) Community, family, workplace or police harassment, blackmail and extortion may take place under threat of Section 377 or even because you appear or are known to be “not straight”. But more than anything else, it is these acts that are illegal and they can be tackled with a dose of courage and sound legal action. If you have concerns around these issues, please send your queries to email@example.com. Your confidentiality will be respected.
This is a simplistic analysis of the law and what the Indian Supreme Court decision meant for the LGBTQ community (feel free to read a legal analysis here: http://ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk/?p=3702) but what it doesn’t bring out is that this is possibly one issue that united the voices of certain religious leaders (who otherwise are always out for each other’s blood) or how easily this issue could (and has) become political (afterally our bodies are not ours but political tools of contention).
So, let me give you a preview of what the scenario in India has been like: everything is about the elections in 2014. People want a change, the present governmance has not been very effective while people are dealing with high inflation and raised food prices. In the middle of all this, last two weeks have been about Lok Sabha (or the lower house) elections in four states, including Delhi.
Now guess what, the political parties are coming out with some surprising statements about how they support or don’t support criminalisation of homosexuals. Of course their deliberations can be very patronising and sometimes downright ridiculous but they need to be followed as whether a sexual identity could make one into a criminal or not is to be deliberated in the Legilature!
This (of course) will raise up more discussions around live-ins, LGBTQs and create more stigma.
However, as of now all I can hope is that the protests happening at Jantar Mantar, Delhi (one that I participated in) and various parts of India influences the legislature.
Dec 14, 2013
Between Instagram and Twitter and other various social networking sites, people never really take the time to start actual face-to-face conversations and get to know each other. You may know who they are on social media, but that doesn’t mean you know them in reality. People have secrets and skeletons in their closet that are unknown to the world unless you really take the time out to get to know them. The youth of today spend so much time with their eyes glued to their smart phones that they never actually get to know the people that they are involving themselves with intimately. They “fall in love” with what they see on the outside and are destroyed when they figure out that the person they’re so in love with is not who they thought them out to be.
Communication in a relationship is extremely important. Knowing about your partner’s sexual history and status can help clear out some of the skeletons in the closet before it’s too late.
Here are some tips on how to communicate effectively:
- Find the right time.
- Talk face-to-face.
- Do not attack.
- Be honest.
- Check your body language.
Don’t be afraid to start the conversation. Knowledge is power. The more you know, the better your can prepare and protect yourself. Step away from the smart phones and make the first move.
Stay Informed. Stay Safe. Stay Healthy.
Dec 12, 2013
Examine My Depth:
Examine this depth because it hasn’t sprung from nowhere – my rage is not a fire hydrant that opens with a tap and strikes everyone close by.
My ache has been rooted and carefully harvested for centuries.
My rage is Mandela, King, Malcolm X, Corky Gonzales, Susan B. Anthony, and Dennis Goldberg.
Please tell me why my presence seems to be scrutinized by the public eye.
My misery lies within the hard cold walls of the daunting penitentiaries in which my people lie.
Open me up and dissect my pain. Tell me that my mother deserves better than minimum wage while working at a hotel – tell me that we didn’t cross el rio Bravo: monstrous and alive, ready to take our lives, only to live a white, superficial hell.
That my aunt wasn’t sexually assaulted on the border, only to find herself lost and lone in the land of the free, in fear of a deportation order.
Let me know that the “New Jim Crow” does not exist. I want to hear that Michelle Alexander is wrong when she says “Jarvious Cotton cannot vote….His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Ku Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation. His father was barred from voting by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Jarvious Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.”
Take a closer look at my disgust when I say that five Middle Eastern men had the police called on them at my university for looking like they did not belong: they were students.
They were no more than 18 year old humans.
Tell me that my father did not hold on to the rails of a train for 24 hours in order to be here – only to drive in fear of deportation. What good is the free land if we are closed off and barred in our box of a home in isolation?
I wish Alexander was wrong when she tells us “A black man was on his knees in the gutter, hands cuffed behind his back, as several police officers stood around him talking, joking, and ignoring his human existence.” – This or course, on Election Day: As we introduce the first black president of the United States
I yearn for the day when statements like these are not true – when black and brown people are not just labeled as a form of “resistance.”
Examine my anger. Look deep into my soul. Take a look at the land you’ve settled and grounded your beliefs on – notice that my angst was not born this morning, or last night, or a week ago, or 10 years ago. Notice that I have been destined to fail and crumble for centuries – see my pain and then take a look at the Anglo reign.
Examine this depth.
Once entering College, I found myself being the only queer youth of color in most if not all of my classes – and also found myself angry at people with privilege because they made sure to make me feel less than human every single day. However, I keep on doing advocacy work and telling people my story, in hopes of changing mindsets and perspectives.
I wrote this poem about youth of color, and people of color in general because we are often no more than a statistic: a reaction to the dominant culture – and we are often left out on conversations that deal with health care, LGBTQ issues, or sexual health.
Latin@ people of color matter.
Dec 10, 2013
[tumblr source: sarahlynne3713]
Dec 7, 2013
This week I had the opportunity to conduct an educational training on pregnancy prevention for local high school students in my community. The teen summit had over 400 students in attendance. I co-facilitated the presentation with an educator from Planned Parenthood. I was extremely nervous at the first session while I presented. A million thoughts went through my head; were they listening, was I saying it right, did they understand, etc. This was my first experience at peer educating so I wanted to be perfect. There were three sessions in total. By the second session I felt more relaxed and comfortable. It was a great feeling to see the students interact and yearn for more information. I felt accomplished when a few students stayed after the presentation to ask more questions. This experience has shown me that peer education is something I’d like to continue doing.
Nov 25, 2013
(original image by The Stigma Project)
We are a grassroots organization that aims to lower the HIV infection rate and neutralize the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS through education and awareness via social media and advertising. The Stigma Project seeks to create an HIV neutral world, free of judgement and fear by working with both positive and negative individuals from all walks of life, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race, or background.
Social media has rapidly become one of today’s largest mediums of news, culture, and education. We hope to embrace that with effective campaigns each season that bring awareness to the current state of HIV. Please, whether you’re HIV-positive, negative, or you don’t know (and should), we need your help. Ask your friends to join us in starting a revolution: an “HIV Neutral” revolution. Like us, Share us, Re-tweet us. The more people we reach, the more effective our project. The more successful our mission. YOU can make a difference.
The Stigma Project seeks to eliminate the stigma of HIV/AIDS on a global scale, through awareness, art, provocation, education and by inspiring a spirit of living “HIV Neutral.”
The Stigma Project seeks to create an “HIV Neutral” world, free of judgment, fear, discrimination and alienation by educating both positive and negative individuals from all walks of life about the constantly evolving state of the epidemic. We seek to reduce the HIV infection rate through knowledge, awareness, and effective marketing and advertising. Ultimately we see a future where the world is free of HIV/AIDS.
I’ve already posted this image before but without credit to the original poster, so here it is! I’ve also added information about this organization!
Nov 23, 2013
There is a popular proverb from H. G. Bohn’s, “Hand-Book of Proverbs,” (1855), “An idle brain is the devil’s workshop”. This proverb can be a metaphor to the increment of gender based violence (GBV) worldwide and mostly well recognized in the countries where unemployment rate is high. Moreover, if the rate is high and female empowerment is low, there are evidences that relates rise in GBV. There are domestic violence, murder for property, human trafficking, polygamy, rape, sexual abuse and harassment, forced pornography and many more cases. But what if these devil’s workshops get engaged to some other issue, mission or task that could cut off the rise in GBV? The current election fever in Nepal can be the answer.
After a long waiting, a constitution is about to be formed in Nepal. The election campaigns overcame even the brightness of major festivals like Dashain and Tihar. Majority of the youths all over the country were seen campaigning in favor of their respective parties and candidates through miking, rallies, door to door visits. Many are engaged counting votes, celebrating the victory and bargaining the loss. Whereas, people are occupied watching live updates about election and waiting for the final result to be announced no matter wherever they are. Now keeping all these situations aside, let us give a glance to recent reports on GBV in Nepal.
In Nepal, either in some corner or front page of every newspaper we find number of news on GBV cases daily. Also, according to the data mapping on GBV initiated by YUWA organization, it shows 2 to 3 GBV cases reported per day in average. But reviewing the data mapping reports of November, 2013, a dramatic decrement on GBV is seen, i.e. 1 GBV case in eight days. Similarly consulting “INSEConline”, which is the first human rights news portal in Nepal, GBV cases are hardly seen in the list during the month of election. This could be a bizarre hypothesis relating election and decrement in GBV. But it certainly can be interpreted as, if people are indulged to something or are mobilized, GBV somehow decreases. And yes, it directly points to the mobilization of youths.
Unemployment is regarded as one of the major risk factors of GBV. In Nepal, unemployment rate was 42% in 2004, whereas it increased to 46% in 2008 according to CIA World Factbook. Thus, higher the number of unemployed people, GBV will rise up. Further justifying this statement, human trafficking is an example which is one of the alternatives for the idle heads. And reminding the fact, human trafficking is still high in Nepal. This is indeed a serious problem. Therefore, the country should realize that it’s time for action in finding ways for mobilizing these idle heads to the right track, showing better alternatives rather than digging in for more justifications.
Nov 19, 2013
(original photo and post by GLAAD)
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. This year, the day is November 20th, 2013.
- An average life span for a trans person is 23 years
- 238 reported cases of murdered trans people happened within the year
- An estimated 78% of transgender people have experienced harassment or mistreatment at work due to their gender identity
Nov 16, 2013
As young people we cannot sit back and wait for other people to make decisions on matters that essentially affect us. We have to be part of the decision making process. We have to be active, be heard and take a clear stance. The decisions made today are going to be our consequences to deal with later.
It is our right to be heard. We cannot accept being sidelined and treated like we know nothing, like what we have to say is of no significance.
I want to live in a world where what I say is heard. A world where the colour of my skin and my gender are not the standards by which I am judged, where my actions and my work speak for themselves.
I know that all this can only happen if I stand up, speak out and take action. Our future starts now, not tomorrow.
Today is ours.
Nov 13, 2013
School: California State University Long Beach
Year in School: Senior
Have you been a GACC SafeSite Before: Yes, I was a SafeSite in the 2012-2013 school year.
“We know that barrier-free access to sexual health information and resources are critical to the sexual health of all people, but especially young people” says Amber in response to why she decided to apply and participate in the Great American Condom Campaign.
A member of her local Choice USA chapter, Amber tells us that it was her goal to make sure students had access to all the resources they needed. “On our own campus, few students know where to go to get affordable condoms, or students that do know that they can get them free at the Health Resource Center are limited to the number that they can get there. We wanted to eliminate some of these barriers by making condoms easily accessible on campus.”
For Amber and her team, being able to start conversations has had an important impact. By removing “barriers to access, like price and availability, we are also able to work on another huge barrier: social stigma about who has sex, when is sex appropriate, who is responsible for pregnancy &/or STI prevention.
Even though Amber and her Choice USA chapter have been very vocal about their advocacy work, they recognize that not everyone is as comfortable talking about sex or sexual health as they are. “To lessen the stigma or embarrassment for people taking condoms from us, we often hand them out along with fliers or candy, something that will be more inviting for people to take,” she says.
When asked if she had any fun or funny stories to share about the campaign, Amber said this— “We found funny the very gendered ways that people react to our presence. Women tend to be more shy and reluctantly take a condom when offered, while men typically walk up to our table because they see the condoms there and gladly take handfuls of them.”
Nov 9, 2013
I’m one of the lucky ones.
In a nation where 1 in 6 women are raped (a number that’s even higher for Black women), I’ve never been raped. In a country where STI infection rates in young adults continue to rise, I’ve never been infected. In a nation where teen suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24, and for LGBTQ+ people are 8.4x more likely to attempt suicide, I’m still here. In a state where Abstinence-Only Sex Education is the norm, I went to a school that taught Comprehensive Sex Ed.
I was lucky enough to have supportive, loving and open parents. I was lucky enough to have access to websites like scarletteen.com, gurl.com and a million blogs dedicated to teaching teens that sex wasn’t scary or dangerous, but a natural part of life. I had feminist friends and adults who paid attention to me and cared about what I did. Even so, my life hasn’t been perfect. I had missteps: six years in an unhealthy relationship, sex with people I didn’t like. I made some bad choices. But I was able to bounce back. I was given the space to recover.
Everyone doesn’t have the privileges I’ve had. Some people don’t have parents at home to teach them how to put a condom on a phallus, or what birth control actually does. Some people go to school where “sex ed” is a series of misinformed scare tactics that leave them uninformed and unprepared for the interpersonal relationships they’ll inevitably face. Some people have been raped or sexually assaulted, but have never been given the words to articulate what happened to them, or why it was wrong.
None of these things happened to me, because I was lucky.
I shouldn’t be considered lucky, though. My experiences of education, openness and safety should be the norm, not the exception. The first way to make that happen is by embracing formal, positive, medically accurate and age-appropriate Comprehensive Sex Ed. It should be open and honest about sexual orientation, anatomy and healthy interpersonal relationships. It should magnifies how important and critical consent is in all interactions. It should do these things and more.
I was one of the lucky ones. I shouldn’t be. My experiences with sex ed should be normal.
Nov 6, 2013
This week, the makers of Trojan condoms released their 8th annual Sexual Health Report Card, ranking the best and worst college and universities in the country with sexual health resources and information.
What are you doing to help your school ranking around sexual health? Upload a photo to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and show us how you distribute condoms. Make sure to use the hashtag #GACC
Through the Great American Condom Campaign, we know there are hundreds of campuses working towards improving condom access & information on sexual health. Yet, we know may campuses still have bad policies and regulations in place that limit the access of young people. Is your school one of those?
From November 7th-14th, raise your voice and tweet to your school (or via Facebook), and asked them to support policies that improve young people’s health & lives.
@BostonCollege What are you doing to improve #condom access on campus? http://prn.to/1hNQx7X #GACC
@ChicagoState Why are we last on this list? Let’s improve #condom access #GACC http://prn.to/1hNQx7X
By using the hashtag #GACC and tweeting to your school (or via Facebook), you can start a conversation on your campus about the policies needed to support young people on campus.
Let’s ensure that young people have the tools needed to lead healthy sexual lives.
Nov 4, 2013
Here at Advocates for Youth, my job is to focus on engaging young men in sexual and reproductive health. This means highlighting the young men already doing excellent work to influence their peers and it also means helping others improve their work with this demographic. It’s hard to explain exactly what so many different guys are experiencing as they come of age in America today – the pressures, the inconsistent messaging about who we’re supposed to be and how, or the insecurities we might feel but are rarely able to voice.
This is why I was so excited to read Rosalind Wiseman’s Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World and see so much of it captured so well. (more…)
Nov 1, 2013
I am happy to be part of the pool of facilitators who facilitated the very first National Adolescent Health Camp that was held at the Fontana Leisure Parks in Clark, Pampanga from October 22-25, 2013 and attended by 300 young adolescents from across the 7,107 islands of the Philippines. I am also honored to have worked with my fellow Y-PEER siblings in this project by the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Youth Commission (NYC) and to mentor out-of-school youth delegates from Eastern Visayas who were awesome during the entire duration of the camp. It made me confident that more adolescents are becoming aware of the importance of adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Adolescence is the period in life when an individual is no longer a child but not an adult as well. They are the person in transitional stage in life, living in critical time of rapid physical, mental, emotional, sexual, social and spiritual development. A time of transition that varies across individuals and groups, countries and cultures.
Globally, 1/5 or 1.2 billion of the world population are adolescents. However, 2/3 of the premature deaths and 1/3 of the disease burden in adults are associated with conditions or behavior that begins in youth. In the Philippines, adolescents comprise about 21.5 percent or almost 20 million of the 92 million Filipinos counted in the 2010 census conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) as cited by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI). They contribute significantly to the labor force of the country. Considering that they constitute the most active group, they are the most vulnerable to communicable and non-communicable diseases owing to their risky behaviors. Furthermore, rate of teenage pregnancies have risen.
It is under this pretext that the Family Health Office of DOH in collaboration with the Department of Education (Dep-Ed), NYC, and Y-PEER Pilipinas conducted a basic training on adolescent peer education. As part of the learning process, an enhancement program was given to potential young leaders. Among the objectives of this camp are: a) Identify issues, gaps, and challenges on adolescent health and development at the local level; b) establish a pool of youth leaders on Adolescent Health and Development to address issues identified; c) develop standards of peer education on Adolescent Health and Development that will aid in developing the national framework on peer education; and d) develop one year local adolescent peer education plans to be implemented in their community/school.
At the start of our registration process, the participants were given name tags with number written at the back for an activity that was held later that afternoon. During the opening ceremonies which featured an ensemble of various traditional costumes from across the islands of the Philippines, the highlight of the said ceremony was the speech of Dr. Stephanie Sison from the Department of Health (DOH) in which she stressed the importance of the health camp to our young people and their importance to our country. They learned that engaging in risk behaviors such as early sexual encounter that may lead to unplanned pregnancy has a great impact on our lives especially on child and maternal health, education, and economic standing.
After the ceremony, participants were grouped according to the numbers behind our name tags for our first series of activities which was one of the facilitations I did in the duration of the camp. They had their getting to know in the form of a speed dating activity in which they met for the first time with their fellow participants from other regions. It provided them an opportunity to mingle in order that we can be friends and likewise for me to meet them. It also provided an opportunity to correct their stereotypes with other region like those from conflict areas in Mindanao. The second activity was body mapping in which I instructed them to draw a human body and wrote in the parts of the body their goals, achievements, positive/negative attitudes, their loved ones, and what others say about them among others. It’s a time where they get to know themselves better as they prepared themselves for the next days of activities. In our last activity which is called Agree or Disagree, young adolescents were able to know each other’s views and values on pressing issues among young people like acceptance of LGBT and people living with HIV, teen pregnancy, access to family planning services, and abortion among others. Yes, it gave them an opportunity to debate and argues on these issues but what prevailed at the end of the day is their mutual respect for each other’s views.
The next day during the plenary, Dr. Minerva “Mimi” Vinluan discussed the legal frameworks that serve as basis for DOH and other government agencies’ programs and projects on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH). It gave us a solid foundation on where we stand as Peer Educators because there is a legal basis for everything that is being conducted in the training. Moreover, since most of them are not acquainted with these legal frameworks, it provided us an opportunity to be educated about these laws which they can invoke and apply in real life situations.
After the plenary, they enrolled into four different topics of discussion for the day: Understanding Adolescent and Puberty; Sex and Gender and Sexuality; Teenage Pregnancy; and HIV, AIDS, and STI. Their enrollment to these topics served as basis for their groupings in the sessions that followed. During our workshop, we let them compute the expenses that they will incur when they impregnated or got pregnant at a very young age with no financial security. They were shocked with the amount that they have computed – a staggering P180, 000 pesos more or less is the money that they have to pay for all expenses related to pregnancy (pre-natal check-ups, medicines, hospital bills, immunization, canned milk, baby diapers, newborn screening and other procedures. They have realized that it is not a big joke to get someone or become pregnant and they conclude that they have to be careful and be responsible with their actions related to practicing their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
In the afternoon, four different topics for workshops were simultaneously held: Relationships; Gender Based Violence and Power Analysis; Youth Sexuality and Family Planning; and ASRH in Humanitarian Setting. Also, the Adult Session for our partners from DOH, Department of Education (Dep-Ed), National Youth Commission (NYC), and other government and non-government organizations was held in a separate venue within the Fontana Convention Center.
During the Thursday plenary, Maria May-i Fabros of Task Force Batang Ina provided an insightful discussion on Elements of RH, the 13 Sexual Rights, and Human Rights Lens that enshrined in various international treaties that the Philippines have signed and ratified. We appreciated the kind of approach that she had on these topics because she delivered it in a manner that is not too academic like classroom lectures, rather, she delivered it in an informal manner that we understood since she anchored it on her own personal experiences and journey as an advocate and as someone doing development work. After the plenary, we break into groups and we facilitators discussed Peer Education 101 that included: Roles and Responsibility of Peer Educator, Peer Education on ASRH, Peer Education Activities, and workshop on session planning in Preparation for our Practicum the next day. In the afternoon, the NYC conducted Peer Education 201 that stresses on leadership and accountability as Peer Educators after which, we break into regions for the young adolescents’ regional planning.
In the Practicum, the existing groupings were further subdivided into four smaller groups with each assigned topics to deliver. We were given 45 minutes at most to deliver a Peer Education session following the standards given to us by our facilitators. The first two groups conducted their sessions simultaneously while the remaining two groups served as the participants respectively of the first two. During their presentation, we observed on how they conducted their sessions such as facilitation and co-facilitation skills, quality of information presented, icebreakers conducted, and our management with our participants. After they presented our sessions, we were able to give them feedbacks and points to improve on their workshop sessions the next time they conduct one.
Overall, all of us enjoyed the experience while at the same time they learn from us facilitators and resource speakers as much as we facilitators learned from our young participants. We have formed lasting friendships among our fellow facilitators and delegates from Region VIII and the delegates from other regions as well. The dinners and regional sharing that we had every night has been memorable. As newly trained Peer Educators, much is expected from them. They may be still learning the ropes but I am very much confident that they can train new Peer Educators in Region VIII and I am here as their Kuya – Big Brother to help them.
Nov 1, 2013
I recently had an interesting experience at a party while I was on the dance floor. It inspired me, and this is the result!
Nov 1, 2013
Last weekend I decided to put together an event that promoted safe sex. Given the fact that it was the weekend before Halloween it was a great opportunity to dress up and have some fun. I planned a bar crawl where I would travel to different bars and hand out condom necklaces and comprehensive sex information. My sister and I dressed up in our tutus as “Condom Fairies” handed out over 700 condoms on Ft. Lauderdale Beach. If was loads of fun and we met tons of new people. The most rewarding aspect was when individuals would commend us on our efforts to promoted safe sex. A lot of people we met thought what we were doing and encouraged us to keep it up.
Oct 31, 2013
Oct 27, 2013
I made a quick list of films about abortion and reproductive/sexual justice issues and posted it on STFU, Pro-Lifers.
Oct 27, 2013
(Originally created and posted on Tumblr by Dimitri - deadlyprincex)
(located outside the “unisex” bathrooms)
[texted image reads: “Everyone needs to use bathrooms, but only some of us have to enter into complicated political and architectural negotiations in order to use them. The fact is, bathrooms are easier to access for some of us than for others, and the people who never think about where and how they can pee have a lot of control over how using restrooms feels for the rest of us. […] Who has the privilege of always knowing that any given bathroom will meet one’s needs? Everyone needs to use the bathroom, but not all of us can.”
— “Calling All Restroom Revolutionaries” by Simone Chess, Alison Kafer, Jessi Quizar, and Mattie Udora Richardson (members of PISSAR – People in Search of Safe and Accessible Restrooms)]
Oct 24, 2013
Oct 21, 2013
October is “Let’s Talk Month.” For those of you who do not know Let’s Talk Month happens every year and is a month long event which seeks to create a healthy environment where youth and adults can have open and honest conversations about sexuality.
Oct 7, 2013
(reposted from The Nation, originally posted by Katha Pollitt)
How could something so basic be in such short supply? Diapers are expensive—up to $100 a month—particularly for women who don’t have transportation and must rely on bodegas and local convenience stores. Some women reported spending 6 percent of their total income on paper nappies. And before you say, “Let them use cloth,” Marie Antoinette, bear in mind that diaper services are expensive, few poor women have their own washing machines, most laundromats don’t permit customers to launder dirty diapers and most daycare programs don’t allow cloth diapers. Like fresh fruit and vegetables, humanely raised meat and dairy products, and organic baby food, cloth diapers are the province of the well-off.
Despite this clear need, however, diapers are not covered by the food stamp program (SNAP) or by the Women, Infants, and Children feeding program. The government apparently finds them unnecessary, like other hygiene products (toilet paper, menstrual supplies, toothpaste, even soap), which are also, unlike food, subject to sales tax. Never mind that babies can’t choose not to pee and poo and did not select their parents. Never mind, too, that those grandmothers who are the hardest hit caregivers are performing a crucial social task—and saving the taxpayer millions—by keeping those kids out of foster care.
Food, it’s true, is even more basic than diapers. But some people believe low-income children don’t really need that either. If House Republicans have their way, 4 to 6 million SNAP recipients may soon find themselves bounced from the rolls. This, at a time when the Department of Agriculture tells us that 17.6 million households regularly go hungry, up from 12 million ten years ago. Proving yet again that there really is a difference between the parties, Republicans want to cut the food stamp budget by $40 billion over the next ten years.
Oct 7, 2013
Urban Retreat 2013 was truly an experience beyond any tier. Never have I ever been surrounded by so many like-minded individuals–as much of an oxymoron as that might sound. We were all individuals because we all had our own story to share. We came from many different walks of life and parts of the world. All of us had to overcome some type of unique trauma and oppression that we were facing in our own separate lives. But we celebrated our diversity. And we were all there in unison trying to contribute to the vision we shared for the world.
I might have been a tiny bit apprehensive about making the trip to Washington, D.C. at first. I wasn’t really enthusiastic about being away from my girlfriend. It was a place I had never been to on my own. I would be surrounded by strangers. But these strangers quickly became my friends. And these friends were all activists and advocates for social progress in their own communities from all over the world, so I had a lot to learn from them. And I found, to my surprise, that I had things I could share with them as well. Together we received training to become more effective activists and leaders. And after the inspiring trainings and workshops, we headed to Capitol Hill together to share our stories and insight with our representatives. It was a self-affirming and inspiring experience.
I even got to meet Janet Mock! We talked and had dinner. She even tweeted me and followed me on Twitter!
It’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained new tools, resources, and concepts that would empower me and inspire me to be more involved in activism and advocacy for social justice. And it’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained a new family with YouthResource. Today I woke up this morning and found myself in my own bed in Michigan. I wasn’t in Washington, D.C. with my fellow advocates anymore. The realization was bittersweet. But I know I’ll see these faces soon enough with stories to share.
Sep 25, 2013
With the rapid changes regarding EC restrictions over the past several months, advocates and health professionals have had to distinguish further what it means for EC to be OTC (“over-the-counter”). In previous years, most people would just use the term OTC (“over-the-counter”) to refer to the point that EC was available behind the pharmacy counter for those meeting the required age restrictions to have access to EC, without a prescription. But just what does the term OTC mean now since the FDA has approved the Plan B One-Step EC pill to be made available OTC for everyone of any age?
Well, I’m glad you should ask… OTC, as this point in time for EC, essentially means that as long as the local pharmacy (not necessarily the pharmacy counter) is opened, the Plan B One-Step EC pill option will be available “on the shelves” for anyone to purchase regardless of age. Most specifically and for example, this brand of EC is offered directly on the shelves in the feminine hygiene aisle by your favorite ribbed, flavored and tribal print condoms! The generic versions of the EC, such as Next Choice and My Way, are only available “behind the counter”, meaning that a pharmacy personnel will be the one to provide you with these options directly at the pharmacy counter upon request and providing that you meet the age requirement of being 17 years and older. As of the present time, if the pharmacy counter is closed, those not offered OTC (a.k.a “on the shelves”), such as the Next Choice and My Way options, will not be accessible; this is a major difference between Plan B One-Step and the generic options. One should additionally note that the EC Pill Ella, is till only available with a prescription for those 17 years and older.
So what the exclusivity for just the Plan B One-Step EC pill to be sold OTC, well a wonderful document on the History of EC created by the Charleston County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Council puts it best in the “the FDA formally approved the application for Plan B One-Step from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, and these other forms of EC will have to be submitted to the FDA for approval. Actavis Inc. markets a generic version of Plan B One-Step called Next Choice. Actavis will apply to the FDA for approval to sell Next Choice without restrictions, as will Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the manufacturer of Ella.” So short and sweet, according to the FDA, Teva Pharmaceuticals has been the only pharmaceutical company to submit their application to the FDA which provides sufficient research to prove that their EC product is safe and effective for young women of any age to use, and thus making that argument that it should be made available without age restrictions.
While the latest piece of legislation to allow the Plan B One-Step EC pill to be made available OTC (a.k.a “on the shelves”) is fairly new as of June 20th, 2013, we are glad to see that many pharmacies are already carrying it on the shelves. Although there is much room to cheer, unfortunately, in most pharmacies the Plan B One-Step is being sold in locked boxes for security and loss prevention purposes; however, this does not change the fact that the Plan B One-Step EC pill is still referred to as OTC (a.k.a “on the shelves”). So let’s put this potential barrier (to some) in a favorable context, it is not unlike buying your favorite pair of pants at a trendy store, and having to have the security tag removed before leaving the store. We can even take this idea a step further and attempt to look on the bright side. Wouldn’t you much prefer to have the EC pill in its own individual lock box, as opposed to having it in a security lock rack of which you may have to call a staff person over “for assistance” to open the rack or either having to hear that annoying and blatantly obvious loud noise that some lock box racks make when trying to get your most durable razors, for example? In comparison, having to wait the extra 5 seconds to have the EC box removed from it’s individuals lock box at the general pharmacy check out counter, pales in comparison.
Let’s face it, while lock boxes may seem like another barrier to obtaining the Plan B One-Step EC pill, it is a great step forward to having EC readily available on the shelves (OTC) during pharmacy store (not necessarily the pharmacy counter) hours to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind! J #SCECOTC #reduceunplannedpregnancies.
For additional information on the legislation which approved Plan B One-Step for OTC sales without age restrictions, and for FAQs on which particular EC options are available OTC versus at the pharmacy counter, please visit the Not-2-Late and the official Plan B One-Step websites.
Sep 25, 2013
Volunteer Training with One Royal Oak, discussing possible issues that may come up while phone banking.
Hype about DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) has died down and our LGBT community sort of gained the right to marriage. Notable “activist” efforts like statuses being made, profile pictures on Facebook being changed, and arguing with not so progressive relatives went on for days until the Supreme Court ruling over DOMA. But since the SCOTUS ruling, there’s been silence and the false notion instilled in a surprising majority that we’ve finally achieved all that we needed to. Discrimination against LGBT folks is over because we can marry in some states and a lot of straight, cis people changed their photos into equality signs!
Our community is still facing several inequities which are more dire than not being able to walk down the aisle. What about making sure our brothers and sisters have a job and a place to live? Only 20 states offer some protection for LGBT people in housing. In 29 states, a person can still be fired without warning simply for being gay. And in 34 states a person can be fired for being trans*. Aren’t these the issues we should be engaging our friends and family with? What’s being done about it while we’re waiting to see what happens with ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) for who knows how long?
Before anyone asks what I’m personally doing about this, I can tell people right now that I’ve joined up with a non-profit, political campaign called One Royal Oak. Our mission is to pass a non-discrimination ordinance in Royal Oak, Michigan which would ban discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations “on the basis of actual OR perceived race, national origin, religion, color, sex, age, height, weight, pregnancy condition, marital status, physical and mental limitations, source of income, family responsibilities, educational
association, sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status.”
So far I’ve taken part in the volunteer training. I participated in phone banking, trying to gather donations for the cause. I’m constantly trying to make my friends and family understand the importance of this situation. I believe in equality, so I’ll do what I can to help. It’s just one city, but every little step counts. And One Royal Oak isn’t alone in their efforts for equality in the United States. Seek out ways to help our community either by volunteering or simply donating to activist groups like One Royal Oak, whether it’s on a local or federal level.
I’m more than happy that I have the right to marry my girlfriend thanks to the SCOTUS ruling. But between not walking down the aisle and not sleeping on the streets, I would choose the latter. There are many obstacles in finding a job and a place to live, our identity–who we choose to love and who we are–shouldn’t be one of them.
Sep 25, 2013
Documenting the Social and Economic Benefits of Family Planning
Reposted from: Guttmacher Institute, written by Adam Sonfield
Public health experts have long emphasized the benefits to maternal and child health of helping women and couples avoid unintended pregnancy and better time and space the pregnancies they have. Notably, numerous U.S. and international studies have found a causal link between closely spaced pregnancies and three key birth outcome measures: low birth weight, preterm birth and small size for gestational age.1 And a large body of literature highlights an association between unintended pregnancy and delayed initiation of prenatal care, as women are more likely to realize early that they are pregnant if they were trying to become pregnant.
Yet, although the preventive health benefits of unintended pregnancy prevention are clear and persuasive—and, indeed, provided the impetus for the new federal requirement that most private health plans cover contraception without copays or deductibles (see “The Case for Insurance Coverage of Contraceptive Services and Supplies Without Cost-sharing,” Winter 2011)—the primary reasons American women give for why they use and value contraception are social and economic. Women know that controlling whether and when to have children has positive benefits for their lives. A pair of recent Guttmacher Institute analyses explore their motivations and the benefits they accrue from acting on them. READ MORE
Sep 25, 2013
Koch Bros. Give Millions to Anti-Choice Efforts in the States
Reposted from: RHRealityCheck, written by Adele M. Stan
To hear the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch tell it, they’re all about business; they don’t give a whit about those messy, so-called “social issues” like abortion, contraception, or same-sex marriage. The billions they dump into the political coffers of the right, they’ll tell you, are to further what they call “free enterprise” (translate: killing unions and regulations on business) and, more generally, “freedom” (by which they generally mean freedom from things they don’t like, such as regulations and unions).
But a blockbuster report published Thursday by Politico reporters Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei shows otherwise. How else to explain why Freedom Partners, a shadowy group that Politico refers to as the “Kochs’ secret bank” gave $8.2 million to the virulently anti-LGBT, anti-abortion Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC), which lobbies for such bills as the recently passed law in Texas that will effectively ban all abortion 20 weeks after fertilization, and includes unnecessary and onerous regulations on abortion clinics that are designed to compel many to close their doors.
Sep 12, 2013
I reached into the pillow that she had gotten me to keep me comfortable at night. In its underside, I had made a small incision a couple of weeks before to hide the pills. Nothing. My heartbeat thudded in my ears and my throat went dry. They had to be in here. Clawing through a cluster of stuffing I ravaged the pillow maniacally to there was nothing left to tear apart. They were gone and my face was hot with tears. She had found them. Slowly, I tiptoed my way downstairs in search for her purse, surely if she had found them she would have yelled at me by now. Making my way down stairs I carefully slid her bag from where it had been neatly tucked in a dining chair. There it was. Pink, circular and filthy, my birth control cartridge. My heart stopped and my breathing faded, she knew. And she was doing exactly what she could do to torture me the most, nothing at all. At this moment, I was no longer a straight A student, I was not dual enrolled in college, I had not received a mayors award, I had not been in the national honor society – none of that mattered. At that moment, I was nothing. I was dirt, I was a disappointment, and I was a failure to my Mother. I was a murderer, I had murdered my relationship with my Mom and I was no longer an angel – that, was all that mattered. That is what society taught ME about sex.
Sep 8, 2013
The definition of an advocate is a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. The definition of being passionate is having strong feelings or beliefs for something. I am an Ohio advocate because I encompass both traits and now have an outlet in which I can help implement policy change that reflects what I support and believe in.
There is a huge inequality issue not only on the federal level but also on the state and local level. There needs to be a regulated comprehensive sex education program implemented in Ohio, there needs to be an end of making the LGBTQ community second class citizens and the bullying and dehumanizing of students in schools everywhere needs to be put to a stop. Through Ohio advocates, I now have the tools, support and voice to help change the black and white values and patterns of society.
I am an advocate for all people, regardless of size, age, race, sexual orientation or gender. I am passionate and hopeful for the equality of all people in the state and country. My name is Hannah, and this is why I am an Ohio advocate.
Sep 4, 2013
August 2013 is the beginning of my second year as a Broward County Youth Council member. This year will be bitter sweet for me because I am aging out. I am extremely excited for what this year has to bring. All of the hard work we did last year is slowly coming to fruition. I am excited to see how everything falls into place regarding comprehensive sex ed in the Broward County school system. This year we have a few new members and I am anxious to work with them on our upcoming projects. This year will be EPIC for me. I plan on having a blast. Urban Retreat is s quickly approaching and I am ready to learn new techniques and tools that will help me be a better advocate. This year will definitely be a memorable one.
Sep 1, 2013
Most people who occupy the social justice corners of the Internet are sure to have heard of the Edmonton police department’s anti-rape campaign. What makes the campaign so great is the focus on the offenders to not rape rather than telling the victims to not get raped with messages like, “It’s not sex when she’s passed out. Sex with someone unable to consent = sexual assault. Don’t be that guy.” SAVEdmonton even includes men as potential rape victims and broadens the crime outside a heteronormative perspective. From their own page on what makes this so different from other anti-rape campaigns:
Typically, sexual assault awareness campaigns target potential victims by urging women to restrict their behavior. Research is telling us that targeting the behavior of victims is not only ineffective, but also contributes to and increases self-blame in survivors. Instead, the SAVE campaigns targets potential offenders – ultimately the ones who hold the power and responsibility to end sexual assault. By addressing sexual assault without victim-blaming, we intend to mark Edmonton on the map as a model for other cities. (reposted from SAVEdmonton.com)
Edmonton’s posters with messages of ending victim blaming and targeting perpetrators was successful in its intention to decrease the rate of sexual assaults. But it seems like not everyone is supportive of the campaign and its success. An unauthorized campaign took SAVEdmonton’s original posters and made parody versions.
(image reposted from The Edmonton Journal)
What makes these parody posters so problematic is the perpetuation of the myth of false reporting or allegations, which our current culture is already strongly promoting. These parody posters not only silences actual and potential victims, but blames them for the assaults against them which completely contradicts the original campaign’s message.
Here are the actual posters from SAVEdmonton:
With the current messages that’s fed to our youth on a daily basis, it’s really important to think of the messages SAVEdmonton has to share with the world. It doesn’t promote a rape culture and actively seeks to create a change by preventing sexual assault. SAVEdmonton is truly a model anti-rape campaign.
Sep 1, 2013
Just yesterday on a Friday afternoon, I posted the petition to make The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act a reality on my reproductive justice blog. It’s not much, but it’s already gained a little less than 900 notes on Tumblr. Popular blogs like ST*U, Sexists and F*ck Yeah, Sex Education just gave the petition a signal boost and I’ve seen a lot of #vision4sexed hashtags on Twitter, so we’ll be sure to see more feedback before September 10. And the youth activists have been out and about getting physical signatures, which is something I’m doing once school is back in session. Some people are reblogging it with their own commentary to emphasize the importance of it, and sometimes it’s all in caps so you know it’s a pretty big deal. Especially with our current culture’s views on sexuality and education. No one should have to suffer another abstinence only class in which our youth, especially girls, are compared to used up candy wrappers and dirty pieces of tape if they’re sexually active. If you haven’t already and you support comprehensive sex education, definitely sign the petition and share it!
The petition page lets you know exactly what you’re saying when you’re leaving behind a signature:
I support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a sex education vision that outlines what young people truly need. The bill not only authorizes funding for comprehensive sex education directed towards adolescents and college students, but also prioritizes teacher training so that our nation’s educators have the tools they need to be effective in the classroom.
Let’s work to realize our vision of young people receiving the sex education they need in order to lead healthy lives and have healthy relationships. We owe it to them to provide them honest sexual health education. With the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act we can start bringing our vision for sex ed to life!
My vision for sex education includes letting our youth know that it’s never okay to shame others for being sexually active or abstinent by choice. My vision for sex education also includes teaching our youth the signs of an abusive relationship, whether it’s emotional, physical, or both. I’d love for there to be discussions that include the LGBTQ community because often they are erased from the topic, leaving many without resources. I find it to be very dangerous to let our youth go through life without the tools they need to have healthy lives. Comprehensive sex education just makes perfect sense to me. What’s your vision for sex ed?
Sep 1, 2013
I know most of you are thinking this post will be about the first time I ever had sex, but it’s not. I’m going to share to you all about the first time my parents ever realized I was a lesbian.
It was the summer after 7th grade. My girlfriend at the time and I have been going out for at least two months around the time my mom started to notice. She was my first girl kiss, girl touch, girlfriend, anything girl. She was and still is completely special to me. Anyway, to get back on track, my mom found out through Facebook. She saw post and comments that my girl and I would send to each other. That night she called me into the kitchen with my sister there to be her translater because I suck at understanding Spanish. She told me she saw the post and that I need to call “my friend” and tell her it’s over and that I’m not allowed to ever see her again. I began crying and shouting, “We’re just friends! Those post are just her and I joking around! Please don’t make me do this!” But my mom started screaming at me saying being a lesbian is a sin, it’s an abomination to God. On top of that my sister was siding with my mom saying, “Why would you joke around like that with a girl?”. At that moment I felt hopeless… I called my girlfriend and told her the heartbreaking news.. but we agreed on keeping our relationship secret. A week later my mom comes barging into my room full of irate! Her face red like blood, eyes like the devil, and her teeth showed off like an angry dog.. She began shouting, “I know you still talk to that lesbian! I checked your messages online! I told you to stop! Blah blah blah!” I didn’t know what to say… while she shouted she began choking me, spitting on me, calling me names that still hurt me when I think of them. She took my phone away, then left my room. I charged after her crying, yelling, “Sorry! Please! I’m not a lesbian ” And then my dad asks, “What’s happening?” My mother had kept this whole lesbian thing a secret. So, to make my mom look like the bad guy I told my dad that my mom is calling me a lesbian when I’m not (I really didn’t want to come out the closet so I kept denying) . My dad begins yelling at my mom asking why she’s calling me that and she tells him everything… and then he starts yelling at me to go to my room. Two hours later he comes in asking me to tell him the truth because he needs to know if he’s defending a straight person because apparently people at church were talking about it. I kept denying who I am and told him what he wanted to hear.
After that incident I go back to dating guys and live an unhappy life. For two years I deny being a lesbian to myself! Until the end of my sophomore year when I decided to stop hiding who I am and just be happy. All my friends know and support me. My parents still don’t know but whenever my mom brings it up I don’t deny it but I also don’t confirm it. I’m sure my parents know but they are just in denial… I don’t plan on telling them till after I stop depending on them.. I’m only a junior in high school: I still need them for a lot of things. I get tired of lying to them about everything I do but hey, I have no choice.
Aug 30, 2013
Aug 27, 2013
Sometimes your best doesn’t seem good enough. The pressures, struggles, the overbearing complexities that one suffers, is simply just too much at times.
They say, “you’re too young to be stressed, you have no worries”. This statement is an eternal myth that plagues our society continually. This statement lends hand in support of the archaic mentality of today’s people.
Youths worldwide are constantly placed in situations , where :
a) They have to be responsible for problems too large for them.
b) They have to think futuristic, as to know their “what if(s) and what not (s).
c) They are placed under such strenuous obligations, and as of such, they’re suffering and burdens colors our world each day.
Being a child, yet having the mentality of a grown person takes a lot of energy. The ugly truth is vividly portrayed in the above video, where one has to make drastic decisions in a limited space of time. There is no time for indecisiveness, nor a lapse in thinking what might happen. This is simply human “exceptional-ism” .
Don’t get me wrong, its “eye-widening” to see a youth undertake such overwhelming ordeals, but is it fair to them? Is it fair they play the roles of over-worked adults, rather than the ” too immature kid” ? Is it heart-warming to hear the cries of children who collapse under the weight of such intensities? Frankly, it is not !
Personally, I am not instigating a rebellion against youths having responsibilities, I am in full endorsement. However, these responsibilities should not impede :
1) The child’s freedom and liberality of expression.
2) His/Her right to be youthful, naive or simply silly.
It is for these reasons that I stand firm n my conviction, that a youth should “Step Up & Step Out”. :)
You have to be liberal rather than radical. Think critical, rather than impulsive. Be humble, be articulate.
Sometime, a youth has got to do, what a youth has to do.
Dare to Be The Youth That Has A Voice.
Aug 27, 2013
I am two. Two of these three categories I fit neatly into. I don’t believe I self-identify as either, but I have been called a Liberal and Democrat more times than I can count. Today, I would realize that while “I’m fighting the good fight” I am also not White. I’ve always known this mattered but never as much as I did today. I believe that we as a country should produce more milk, because we are all about homogenization. Just listen you’ll hear: The Left, Those Liberals, the Democrats think as if we represent some homogenous group of people. While we obviously agree on most things, there is this common assumption that our identities (race, sexual orientation, class, gender, age, etc) have no effect on how we may view “the issues” differently. More importantly there’s also a paucity in the discourse around who gets to speak on these issues.
As a millennial, I can tell you that people are polling and reporting on us everyday. But how many of this reporting is coming from the mouths of actual millennials? Today, I had the opportunity to join 13 other millennials on a national conservative talk show to speak about “the issues”—from the economy to the legalization of gay marriage. I was very hesitant about doing this show initially because I belonged to the groups mentioned above. Upon reaching the set, I would find that there would be six other liberal democrats joining me. I breathed a sigh of relief. When the show began, questions were thrown at us, which we were all more than eager to answer. My initial nervousness had left and I was prepared to tell 9 million people exactly how I felt about “the issues.”
Sadly, this was not the case. While I did get to comment on two or three things, I found that at times my hand had been raised for minutes at a time, with no microphone offered inviting me to speak. The democrats definitely held it down, though. Those who did not mind cutting other people off, getting out of their seat for the microphone, and speaking without one, definitely got heard. Again, sadly I knew better. Despite the fact that many of the things being said I would have definitely concurred with, there was no entry point (or at least microphone) for me.
I love ‘politicking’! I’ve lobbied in the House and Senate; worked as a congressional health policy fellow; spoke at congressional briefings and I advocate for policy changes on the ground everyday. I would say I’m no newcomer to this. But today was a harsh reality, that although I can do all these things, and that the Dream9 can self-deport and lead hunger strikes in dentition centers to bring attention to the injustices of the immigration system in America; that young people of color can march into their Ivy League and predominately white institution’s with their hoods high for justice for Trayvon, that even though we packed the courtroom until Stop & Frisk was ruled unconstitutional, we must realize that even amongst us liberal-social justice seeking millennials, there are a few voices that still speak for us.
I sat sandwiched between two kind, brilliant, over-enthusiastic millennials who had so much to say that they took no minute to realize that perhaps we should allow the voices of those most marginalized to speak. The same folks who had immigration and racial politics on lock though. While I will never wait for anyone to make room for my voice, I also know that I would quickly become a YouTube sensation if I snatched a microphone out of a white girl’s hand. So I sat thinking about this some what dichotomous relationship forming between my identity and my politics.
When I finally answered a question, it was about race. Coincidence? The question asked, “Do you think Americans are racist?” And while I had a host of things I could have said, I was reflecting on the last forty five minutes. I responded that I while didn’t think that all Americans were racist, I do feel that people fail to recognize privilege, all privilege. Able-bodied, cis-gendered, heterosexual, class, age, and of course given the situation –white privilege. I was sitting in my feelings about literally be silenced in two ways. By a group of your peers who while they stand in solidarity with you, make little to no room for you at the table. Silenced, by a media institution who still relies heavily on controlling images like the Angry Black Woman despite your academic accomplishments, and the fact that your views parallel those of your peers.
I speak on this as a millennial of color, in the trenches everyday fighting for the rights of young people—all young people. I assert that we all must make room. We live in a society that still places our existence and knowledge in the future, we are the now. As we are marginalized by our age we must also see that there are intersections within our identities that place us in positions of power. We must check those, respect those, and correct those who have yet to see it that way. I believe that all the young people on today’s show, liberal and conservative are all brilliant and powerful. Let’s be powerful together, in voice, love and solidarity. Let us make room!
Aug 25, 2013
I’ve always reposted things a certain way, kind of like how you do it on Tumblr and general blogging sites and basically any other media outlets, with a source link at the bottom or just simply a link with their name. Being a youth who spends a lot of time on the Internet, that’s just what I’ve always known and seen.
I’ve always thought it was sufficient, obvious, and self-explanatory. Simple, really.
But there were complaints, specifically on the OITNB post I re-posted from Because I am a Woman. I love that blog and just wanted to share that particular post. I definitely had no intentions to claim the work as my own, and I thought with the obvious source link those intentions were clear.
Apologies to everyone. I’ll be more considerate in the future.
Aug 24, 2013
First- Ever Legal Abortion,
And It Saved A Dying Woman’s
(Re-posted from ThinkProgress)
The first legal abortion in an Irish hospital has been carried out in Dublin, the Irish Times confirmed on Friday. It represents the first pregnancy termination under Ireland’s historic new abortion law, which slightly relaxed the country’s total ban to allow for legal abortions in cases when it’s necessary to preserve a woman’s life.
Before Ireland’s prime minister approved the new law in July, the country’s abortion laws had not been updated since 1867. Now, there are 25 Irish hospitals that are authorized to perform legal abortions in life-threatening cases without worrying about legal repercussions.
The National Maternity Hospital in Dublin carried out the pregnancy termination for a dying woman whose membrane had ruptured for more than 24 hours. She ran a high risk of sepsis, and her 18-week twin fetuses had no chance of survival outside of the womb. Doctors said her case bore many similarities to that of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old woman who died after being denied an emergency abortion in an Irish Catholic hospital last year. Halappanavar developed sepsis after she began to miscarry, but doctors wouldn’t terminate her doomed pregnancy until the fetal heartbeat had officially stopped three days later — and by that time, it was too late.
The Irish Times reports that in contrast to Halappanavar, the woman who received a legal abortion this month “has made a good recovery after receiving antibiotic treatment and undergoing the termination a number of weeks ago.”
Ireland’s new abortion law was spurred by Halappanavar’s tragic death, which sparked a global controversy. Reproductive rights activists vowed that an individual would “never again” be denied the life-saving medical care that could avert this type of tragedy. But even though Ireland has slightly relaxed its stringent abortion law to successfully avert another Savita, a handful of other conservative Catholic countries still impose total bans on the procedure. Following Halpannavar’s death, similar controversies have unfolded in El Salvador and Chile.
The Guttmacher Institute’s research has found that harsh bans on abortion don’t actually lower abortion rates. Instead, they simply encourage women to risk their lives to end a pregnancy illegally. An estimated 47,000 women around the world die each year from unsafe abortions — and that figure doesn’t include women like Halpannavar who die from pregnancy-related complications that an abortion could have averted.
Aug 23, 2013
Aug 21, 2013
“We are ready to start the fire again,” said state Rep. Christina Hagan at the press conference, which was filled with reporters as well as members of the Duggar family, reality television stars who have become some of the new faces of the evangelical anti-choice movement.
Speaking in favor of the ban was Michelle Duggar, matriarch of the 19 Kids and Counting family. With 17 of her 19 children in tow, Duggar spoke against the “baby holocaust” occurring in the United States, a talking point she also used at a Texas press event roughly a month ago: “There is a baby holocaust taking place, where doctors and nurses are paid to take the lives of innocent, unborn children. … If we do not speak up and do something to stop this holocaust, the blood of these little ones will be on our hands.”
Michelle’s oldest son, Josh, was recently named executive director of FRC Action, the political arm of the right-wing Christian group Family Research Council, an avid heartbeat ban supporter.
Aug 21, 2013
Prison Birth: Exploring Prison Justice Through Orange is the New Black
(Re-posted from Because I Am Woman an AH-MAZING sex-positivity, sex-ed, feminism, reproductive justice, birth justice, intersectionality, and activism blog. Check them out, and THANK YOU for letting us post this piece here.)
Orange is the New Black has been getting a lot of press lately, and it is certainly well deserved. The dark comedy features a dynamic and multi-faceted cast of women and gives a first-hand look into many of the realities women in prison face that are often left out of the conversation in mainstream culture and other prison related media. The visibility of the series has opened up many vital conversations on topics such as birthing, healthcare for trans people, mental health, privilege, sexuality and even the prison industrial complex itself. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be exploring these issues (and more) through the lens of the Orange is the New Black.
First up, we will be taking a good hard look at birthing in prison. Although birth has been an increasingly popular topic in reproductive justice and feminism in recent years, people experiencing it in prison aren’t often considered as part of the equation. In Orange is the New Black we are introduced to what birthing in prison might look like for people who are incarcerated when one inmate, Ruiz, is about to give birth during episode 8. Over the course of the episode, (although only a minor plot point), we see Ruiz go into labor and be told by a pharmacy tech that she may not go to a hospital until her contractions are extremely close together. When the time finally comes, Ruiz is taken away only to return at the end of the episode silently wheeled back into a room of women without her child. As the room of women turn to look at her, the silence that fills the room provides viewers with a shared sense of loss and sadness for the new mother, one that is likely in prison for a minor crime, who has already been taken from her child.
What we saw in this episode is only the beginning of what pregnancy and birth actually look like for many in prison. According to The Prison Birth Project, “In prison, 4-7% of women are pregnant, the same percentage as in the wider population; 85% are mothers, and 25% were pregnant upon arrest or gave birth in the previous year.” This demonstrates that reproductive health and pregnancy are clearly an issue for those incarcerated, and an issue that cannot be ignored in the reproductive justice movement. There is a need for education, advocacy, and support amongst these populations.
The reality of giving birth for many prisoners is also much worse than what we saw on Orange is the New Black. Many in prison are denied the medical care they need (pre and post-natal), and many more give birth still shackled in prison instead of in a hospital. Although advocates in many states have been pushing for change, only 16 states have passed legislation to outlaw the barbaric shackling of prisoners birthing and in labor. In their report “Mothers Behind Bars”by the National Women’s Law Center and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, the organizations gave almost half of all states a failing grade for their treatment of pregnant and birthing people, and point out that there is no national standards for treatment and care of those who experience pregnancy behind bars.
Fortunately, there are people and organizations out there organizing around these issues. The Prison Birth Project and Birth Behind Bars both act as advocates in their respective areas and bring doulas into prisons to aid in birth and pregnancy. You can support them by volunteering your time, money and support, as well as by continuing to spread the word on these issues.
As for Orange is the New Black, we can likely count on this not being the last pregnancy and/or birth we see in the series. Since the pregnancy of Daya by a prison guard is a much bigger plot point in the show, it is my hope that we see a more well-rounded and realistic depiction of what this experience looks like for inmates in the second season.
Aug 20, 2013
Aug 20, 2013
One year ago, then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) uttered his infamous “legitimate rape” comment when explaining his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape. The comment gave the public a rare peek into the extreme views Akin and other like-minded conservatives have on reproductive rights and how fundamentally misinformed they are on matters of basic biology.
The comment was the beginning of the end of Akin’s Senate run. But while it may have cost him an election, it hasn’t stopped Republicans across the country from trying to legislate legal abortion out of existence. On Friday, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) quantified those efforts in a new report, Shut That Whole Thing Down: A Survey of Abortion Restrictions Even in Cases of Rape. The report looks at abortion legislation in the states and Congress from the first half of 2013 and finds that:
86 percent (235) of the 273 provisions that politicians introduced in state legislatures to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
71 percent (27) of the 38 state provisions restricting women’s access to abortion enacted by the states apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
72 percent (18) of the 25 bills introduced in Congress to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
Aug 19, 2013
can we stop referring to all sex that could possibly result in pregnancy as “heterosexual reproduction” now
Aug 14, 2013
New laws banning abortion after 20 weeks are based on pseudoscience — and real research proves it conclusively.
This article originally appeared on Salon.com.
Since Nebraska first jump-started the trend back in 2010, close to a dozen state legislatures across the country have passed laws banning abortion at 20 weeks. Most of these restrictions are given grave-sounding titles like the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” or some near-identical riff on the words “fetal,” “pain” and “protection.” All of them, no matter what they’re called, rest on the stated premise that a fetus can experience pain at 20 weeks, and that this is a sufficient justification to ban all abortions after this gestational stage.
But “fetal pain” in the popular discourse is a nebulous concept, one that lawmakers like Jodie Laubenberg, Trent Franks and others haven’t much bothered to define or help ground in available medical evidence.
Probably because there really isn’t any. The limited research used to support such claims has been refuted as pseudoscience by both the Journal of the American Medical Association and the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Not to mention smaller studies from researchers at Harvard University, University College London and elsewhere.)
“We know a lot about embryology [in the field]. The way that a fetus grows and develops hasn’t changed and never will,” Dr. Anne Davis, a second-trimester abortion provider, associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, and consulting medical director at Physicians for Reproductive Health, told Salon. “And what we know in terms of the brain and the nervous system in a fetus is that the part of the brain that perceives pain is not connected to the part of the body that receives pain signals until about 26 weeks from the last menstrual period, which is about 24 weeks from conception.”
Because the neural structures necessary to feel pain have not yet developed, any observable responses to stimuli at this gestational stage — like the fetal “flinching” during an amniocentesis — are reflexive, not experiential. Which is to say, the fetus at 20 weeks can’t actually feel anything at all. Which is to say, the fundamental justification for these laws is a really big, really popular lie.
Aug 14, 2013
North Carolina House Republicans have, without notice, inserted sweeping changes to the state’s abortion rules into a motorcycle safety law. Effectively, they’ve reintroduced the abortion bill that Governor Pat McCrory had threatened to veto.
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 7, 2013
In commemorating the international Youth day 2013, the UN Secretary General Banki Moon had an interactive forum with young people from five (5) countries representing the five different continents in the world. The countries include Nigeria, Brazil, Brussels, India, Lebanon and America. On the 5th of August, twenty five (25) young people representing Nigeria convened at the UN house in Nigeria to discuss issues on Better health care services with the UN secretary general. Questions were asked from different countries and also from Nigeria which was “what can the U.N do to make our Leaders accountable in delivering better health care services? And his response was he and the leaders of Nigeria are working on the health system In Nigeria.
As a youth of Nigeria better health care means we have better hospitals that are well equipped with well trained staff, also with good roads that link to the hospitals and also better friendly services that will help us make informed choices on our sexuality.
Aug 6, 2013
When I was an adolescent I assumed that I can handle my own personal issues. If I can endured my emotional struggles and physical pain without reaching for help, it was considered to be masculine in front of my peers. Now that I’m reaching to young adulthood age, I’m beginning to question my own identity. As I recall in my teenager years I displayed a self-preserve, arrogant behavior. When urgent dilemmas occurred, I assumed I can handle it without any assistance. I felt strongly that I didn’t require anyone’s help or guidance. I desperately wanted to avoid the shame and guilt for receiving assistance from a simplest task. My thought process before then clearly cause high amount of anxiety for myself and force me to question my own identity. With no sense of identity and motivation for myself I started become hopeless, until I stumble across a journal from Will H. Courtenay. The research journal argues old traditional negative beliefs of masculinity are correlated with drug abuse, crime rate, increased risk of HIV and STIs, unemployment and other disparities. Granted it didn’t solved my identity crisis, but it shed light to other possibilities of why I feel this way. It’s possible that certain aspect of old traditional masculinity roles is the consequence of young male adolescents and adults destructive paths.
Dr. Courtney is a well-known expert researcher and psychotherapist who excels in men’s and boy’s health. In this journal he and other researchers stated men’s health risk into 4 categories: behaviors of men and boys, health-related beliefs and the expression of emotions and physical distress, underlying factors that influence the health behaviors and beliefs of men and boys, and health care. Stereotypical beliefs about masculinity are a problem because studies have indicated links between men’s health. For example, men respond to stress in less healthy ways than women. They are more likely to use negative coping strategies and are less likely to employ health, correct coping strategies and to acknowledge the help they need. Males with high traditional beliefs of masculinities are likely to engage in high-risk behaviors and lifestyles. Such traditional beliefs are connected with drug use, high-risk behaviors, unsafe sexual practices, and many other factors.
Although not all traditional beliefs about masculinity have a negative consequence. For example, for some beliefs about fatherhood, commitment to one’s family, and serving one’s family are deemed honorable. In a similar case, negative traditional beliefs about masculinity may influence young men to become emotionally detached. Men have adopted these traditional beliefs, and those who diverge from these beliefs are ridiculed from their male peers. From a young age, other toddlers construct a schema of their gender which is influenced by their peers and adults. In most cases, boys are less likely to discuss about emotional problems as it deemed to be “girly”. The boy will then be discouraged to seek emotional help and will continue to become distant to avoid shaming from other peers. In long-term, men are more likely than women to have a greater difficulty of identifying and expressing their emotions.
Programs around the United States are addressing the socio-cultural, psychological, and behavioral determinants within men’s health. Since there has been an increase in the level of interest in men’s health from scholars and health scientists there’s hope for efforts to address the concerns and improvements of men’s health. After reading the journal, it helped decrease the amount of anxiety I was feeling. In my sex education class, it didn’t provide enough information about young men’s sexual and reproductive health. There are not enough helpful, informative programs and interventions addressing the needs of young men. I believe programs should focus their goal on decreasing the social stigma against young men in regarding of health issues. The Healthy Masculinity Action Project (HMAP), Answers, and other men programs are now striding to put an end to negative traditional beliefs of masculinity. Programs, such as HMAP, are utilizing effective health programs to encourage nonviolence and healthier life choices for men. This granted me an opportunity to construct a better understanding of my identity and future. Even through reading helpful websites, such as Hooking up and Staying Hooked, has helped improve my communication with my close peers. Looking back, I feel regret for acting withdrawn to express my concerns. Now that I have access to helpful websites, programs, and interventions I’m beginning to believe that being too prideful is just not helpful.