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Addressing Maternal Mortality from a Human Rights Perspective

Since the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals, the development world has made some impressive strides in addressing maternal health. Maternal mortality rates have reduced by 45% since 1990, and the role of global health practitioners and advocates has been commendable. However, our work is far from over. Today, almost 300,000 women die each year from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. Of these deaths, 99% occur in the developing world, and almost 90% are preventable. Reversing this trend will require recognizing that surviving pregnancy and childbirth is a fundamental human right, which should not be contingent upon a woman’s age, where she lives, or her income level. In From Risk to Rights: Realizing States’ Obligations to Prevent and Address Maternal Mortality, a new publication by the Center for Reproductive Rights, this obligation is clearly outlined. Read more...

Promoting the SRHR of Adolescent and Young Mothers

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Cecilia García Ruiz, Espolea (Mexico)

As the Adolescent and Youth Motherhood Project (AYMP) draws to a close, there are a few highlights that are worth sharing.

As mentioned in previous posts, it is important that human rights advocates have a deep understanding of the diverse realities, needs, interests and expectations of the populations they seek to benefit and reach. When working with adolescent and young mothers the first lesson to be learned is: do not take anything for granted. This means, for instance, that we cannot assume that adolescent and young mothers have more information and tools to access quality sexual and reproductive health services than any other young person in their community. Misconceptions about their experiences with the healthcare system are common. Very often, we find that a significant percentage of these young women have faced discrimination and violence from health providers, education workers, peers, and even members from their own families and communities. Read more...

Women’s Rights Defenders Call for the Inclusion of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

On the re-launch of May 28 International Day of Action for Women’s Health, Women’s Rights Defenders Worldwide Call for the Inclusion of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

This May 2014, in commemoration of 30 years of struggle and activism reflected in the victories of the women’s rights movement in the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994) and in the IV World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995), women’s rights defenders and activists worldwide are re-launching May 28, the International Day of Action for Women’s Health, by calling on governments to ensure a holistic, inclusive, and human rights-based approach to women and girls’ health, which includes sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Read more...

Jill Sheffield Named One of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women’s eNews

Women Deliver Founder and President Jill Sheffield was selected as one of the 2014 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women’s eNews, an award-winning nonprofit news service covering issues of particular concern to women and providing women's perspectives on public policy. The list honors outstanding leaders that are committed to improving the lives of girls and women, each one insisting on equality and justice for women and girls. Sheffield was presented with an award for her life-long commitment to enabling women to plan their fertility and making childbirth safe. This year’s group includes leaders who are working globally and locally to ensure that women's rights are human rights.

CPD: Renewed Support for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Gender Equality, and Youth Participation

The week-long 47th session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) ended on Saturday with governments calling for the promotion of gender equality, young people’s participation, and sexual and reproductive health in the next set of development goals. The Commission emphasized the need to advance these issues to achieve sustainable development.

The Commission, which met at UN headquarters in New York, assessed what progress has been made in the 20 years since the groundbreaking International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994. There, 179 governments agreed that women’s health and rights must be central to global development policies, programs, and funding. Read more...

Sexual and Reproductive Rights are Not ‘New’ Rights, Says UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

United Nations, New York, 8 April 2014 – Although sometimes considered controversial, sexual and reproductive rights are not ‘new’ rights, but “are intrinsic to a range of internationally binding treaties.”

That was one of the messages in the keynote address by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, speaking at a side event, Celebrating Cairo and Going Beyond, organized by the High-Level Task Force for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) on the occasion of the Commission on Population and Development. Read more...

CSW: Good News for Women’s Rights

Women Deliver welcomes the strong outcome of the 2014 UN Commission on the Status of Women, where a big battle was fought to prioritize gender equality and view women’s rights as human rights in the next development agenda.

After two weeks of tough negotiations between delegates, advocates praised the strong language around sexual and reproductive health in the outcome document. With the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set to expire at the end of next year, the Commission recognized that although the MDGs have advanced progress in some areas, the goals that focus on the health and well-being of girls and women, particularly surrounding maternal and sexual and reproductive health, have made the least the progress. Read more...

Development is Being Derailed by Ignoring Equality, Rights and Women’s Health, UN Cautions

Originally posted by UNFPA

New UN report says development gains from the past 20 years cannot be sustained unless governments tackle the inequalities that hurt the poorest and most marginalized

  • The number of people living in extreme poverty in developing countries has fallen dramatically from 47 per cent in 1990 to 22 per cent in 2010
  • But many of the estimated 1 billion people living in the 50-60 poorest countries will stagnate as the rest of the world gets richer

UNITED NATIONS, New York — A new report finds that growing inequalities will undo significant gains in health and longevity made over the past 20 years. To sustain these gains, the United Nations ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Report argues that governments must pass and enforce laws to protect the poorest and most marginalized, including adolescent girls and women affected by violence as well as rural populations. Read more...

Today is a Significant Day in Mali

By: Molly Melching; Originally posted on Thomson Reuters Foundation

Today, on the UN-recognized International Day promoting the abandonment of female genital cutting (FGC), these 14 neighborhoods have decided that they will no longer support the practices of female genital cutting and child/forced marriage. This public declaration marks a major change in community norms.  It will be a reference point people will use for generations to come marking the moment when they, as a collective group, agreed to protect the health and human rights of their daughters. Government ministers, traditional and religious leaders, hundreds of people from Yirimadio neighborhoods, project donors, Tostan International staff and Tostan’s implementing NGO partner, Muso, have all gathered at the Yirimadio community stadium to witness this celebratory event. Read more...

The Center for Reproductive Rights Releases New Briefing Paper on Reproductive Rights

The Center for Reproductive Rights has finalized a new resource titled Substantive Equality and Reproductive Rights: A Briefing Paper on Aligning Development Goals with Human Rights Obligations. International human rights norms have recognized that reproductive rights are women’s rights, clarifying that violations of reproductive rights are primarily manifestations of discrimination, poverty, and violence. Where women’s rights to equality and non-discrimination are not fulfilled, women’s access to reproductive health services and decision-making about their reproductive lives is limited. In addition, where women are unable to access reproductive health services, the inequalities and discrimination women face are exacerbated by the differentiated impact that childbearing has on women’s health and lives, including education and employment. Read more...

Stop Sexual Assaults & Violence Against Syrian Women & Girls

By: Tewodros Melesse, Director-General, International Planned Parenthood Federation; Originally posted on Huffington Post

The humanitarian situation in Syria has sharply deteriorated and though media interest in the conflict has ebbed and flowed the crisis affecting Syrians has steadily grown. Breaches of human rights by both sides and, as bombardment and shooting has continued so has another war -- a war of sexual assault and violence against women and girls. Vast numbers of Syrians are now displaced -- in their own country and around its borders. Read more...

Keeping Complexity in a Human Rights–Based Approach to Family Planning: Is It Worth It?

Submitted by Shannon Harris, on behalf of the team led by Futures Group and EngenderHealth that developed the Voluntary, Rights-Based Family Planning Framework, Originally posted on Champions4Choice

Human rights–based family planning (FP) programming—what does it mean? Where do you start to translate it into practice? How comprehensive do you need to be? It is easy to become daunted by a long list of inputs and activities, such as those listed in the voluntary, rights-based family planning framework developed by a team led by Futures Group and EngenderHealth. The recent Vision 2020 newsletter refers to the overwhelming nature of existing guidance documents for ensuring that FP programs are rights-based and offers a simplified starting point. But will simplification of a complex set of challenges lead to the transformation in FP programming that our field needs? Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: The Universal Periodic Review as an Inroad to Progress

By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver

In Kyrgyzstan, civil society groups such as Labrys Kyrgyzstan have been struggling for years to convince the government to expand women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services, to develop sexuality educations programs, and to effectively prosecute violence against women and LGBT individuals. In the face of strong gender norms and a legislative system reluctant to respond to domestic violence, the path to progress has been long and fraught with obstacles.

In 2010, Labrys Kyrgyzstan and the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI) partnered to submit a report to the United Nations through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). As a result, the government of Kyrgyzstan accepted recommendations from the Czech Republic and Uruguay to review and reform legislative actions around gender-based violence and hate crimes, and invited Labrys to hold a training for government officials. Read more...

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence 2013

Today marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign. The 16 Days Campaign originated from the first Women's Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women's Global Leadership in 1991.  Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Empowering Sex Trafficking Survivors in the Philippines

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) is a non-governmental organization that works to end human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls worldwide. It is the world’s first organization to fight human trafficking internationally. With funding received from Catapult,  developed an innovative camp for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation in Manila, Philippines to provide support, education, and trainings. The three-day program, which took place this past September, built the capacity of self-help groups and provided support to survivors through counseling aimed to equip survivors with knowledge about women’s rights, create a safe space to share their experiences, and provide trainings in leadership and organizing. Read more...

Blog Action Day: Girls’ and Women’s Rights are Human Rights

By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver

Today is Blog Action Day, bringing together bloggers from different countries, interests and languages together to talk about one important global issue. This year’s topic is human rights, one which is at the core of sexual and reproductive health and rights. At Women Deliver, we firmly believe that what we call “women’s issues” are issues that matter to all humans, and that girls’ and women’s rights should be advocated for as human rights. Read more...

The Right to Be a Girl: Moving From Rhetoric to Reality

By: Purnima Mane, Pathfinder International; Originally posted on Huffington Post

2013 has been an exciting year for girls. The rallying cry for girls' education, ending early marriage and pregnancies, and preventing gender-based violence is resonating with a more global and diverse audience than ever before. In May, the global health community convened at the Women Deliver conference around the central message that investing in women and girls is not only an important investment, but a smart one.In July, Malala—the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban for attending classes—addressed the United Nations with an impassioned call to action in support of girls' education, "Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons." Read more...

The World We Want: An End to Child Marriage

Originally posted on Girls Not Brides

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recommended that a new agenda for international development should ensure the empowerment, wellbeing and social protection of the world’s most vulnerable people. In a commentary for the renowned medical journal The Lancet, three prominent figures in international development argue that to translate these principles into action and tangible results, we must end child marriage. Read more...

More Than “Just a Blog”: Chatting With Girls’ Globe

By: Amie Newman; Originally posted on Impatient Optimists

As we head into the week prior to the 2013 Women Deliver conference, the largest global meeting of the decade to focus on the health and well-being of girls and women, we thought it would be a perfect time to highlight the voices and stories of some of the amazing advocates, from around the world, who are attending this monumental world meeting. Today, meet Julia Wiklander founder of Girls' Globe. Read more...

Now Is the Time to Invest in Girls and Women

By: Jill Sheffield, Founder and President of Women Deliver; Originally posted on Huffington Post

Last month, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize nominee in history. Less than six months earlier, she was shot at point-blank range by those who wanted to silence her for promoting girls' education in her native Pakistan. In a world that too often punishes and oppresses women, and tells girls that they cannot achieve, Malala is a beacon of hope. Read more...

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