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Working Hard to Get the World We Want: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights After 2015

By: Katja Iversen, CEO of Women Deliver

Imagine a world where no woman dies giving life, where unwanted pregnancies are a thing of the past, where every girl is able to attend school and receive a quality education, and where everybody – including girls and women – can exercise their rights and have the opportunity to fulfill their potential. That world is within reach, and the time to fight for it is now.

For those who care about maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights – whether advocates, activists, private sector representatives, or policy-makers – we’re approaching a very crucial time in a process that will affect girls and women around the world for decades to come. It’s time to take a deep breath, and to come together for a next-to-final push through this last mile. Read more...

Young People Engage in a New Challenge – Everybody Counts

By: Gonzalo Nicolas Infante Grandon, Chile

It was with great momentum that the PMNCH Partner’s Forum began yesterday in Johannesburg, kicking off with a Youth Pre-Forum and NGO constituency meetings.  This year, unlike other years, young people are part of the discussions and contributions fostered by the forum.

With 500 days left to reach the targets set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), we must go further - with more decisiveness, more strength, and more passion – to accelerate progress in this last push and achieve a better future. Beyond the act of deliberating upcoming policies, we must evaluate the strategies and practices that have already been implemented. We must deepen our understanding and rectify our errors. As we do this, it is worth asking: How have young people been involved? Has it has been enough? Read more...

Be seen! Be heard! Youth at the 3rd PMNCH Partners’ Forum

By: Yemurai Nyoni and Lindsay Menard-Freeman, Women Deliver

This 3rd PMNCH Partners’ Forum is the first large-scale involvement of young people to date. Out of the approximately 1000 participants here in Johannesburg, nearly 10% are youth representatives under 30. This is a great start, and a clear opportunity to increase meaningful youth engagement in the forum and others like it. Will PMNCH consider including a youth constituency to its other seven constituencies while mainstreaming youth within and throughout? We really hope so.

Partners’ Forum representatives come together from governments, civil society, development agencies, private sector, and the media to deliberate on how best to accelerate progress for women, children and adolescents in the context of RMNCH. Youth representatives are uniquely positioned to put our issues front and center, and to magnify our contributions to advancing maternal and newborn health. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Midwives Changing Lives of Women and Communities of Myanmar

By: Rehema Namukose, Women Deliver

When a community has access to trained midwives, the health of women and their children will improve, creating healthier families and communities. However, 70 percent of Myanmar’s population that live in rural areas barely have access to basic health education and information about maternal and child health care services. Many have no knowledge about basic reproductive health services like birth spacing, pre-and post natal care, and safe delivery services, all of which  can be provided by a skilled midwife.

The country’s health care system was ranked the second worst in the world by WHO in 2000, and that is why the government has been working ever since with many partners, including global civil society organizations, to make access to health care services a reality for all. A project intervention by Marie Stopes International Myanmar (MSIM) and Myanmar Nurse and Midwife Association (MNMA) is training young midwifery professionals known as Volunteer Midwives (VMWs) and placing them in villages in urgent need of health care services in the Ayeyarwaddy and Yangon regions of Myanmar. Read more...

Joining Hands to Improve Reproductive Health Outcomes for Youth in Uganda

By: Martin Wanzala, Allied Youth Initiative (Uganda)

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

Growing up on the fringes of Ugandan society, I have witnessed firsthand how HIV/AIDS, early or unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion rob my country of the lives of young men and women. The World Bank indicates that more than three quarters of Uganda’s population is below the age of 30. The health of these young people should be a national priority.

While Uganda has made significant strides in improving sexual and reproductive health (SRH) indicators over the last decade, the status of young people, reflected by those same indicators, remains very poor. For instance, Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) rates are four times higher in youth than in the general population. The unmet need for contraception is an unacceptably high 41 percent, while the adolescent pregnancy rate stands at 43 percent. HIV/AIDS is all too common, infecting 8.3 percent of young women and 6.1 percent of young men. The 2013 State of Uganda Population report reveals that of the estimated 297,000 unsafe abortions that occur every year in the country, nearly half of them are among girls and young women ages 15-24. Read more...

Q&A with Katja Iversen About Her Vision for the Future

In this Q&A, Women Deliver’s new CEO Katja Iversen shares her motivations for becoming an advocate for girls’ and women’s health and rights; discusses lessons she has learned in her career; offers advice for emerging advocates; and describes her vision for the future for girls and women around the world.

Q: What first inspired you to become a maternal and reproductive health advocate?

I’m proud to say it was my grandmother. Back in the 1930s she – in her own quiet and behind-the-scenes way – fought fiercely for girls’ and women’s reproductive rights in Denmark, where I am from. At the time, only married women could get access to modern contraceptives.  She and my granddad lived together without being married, and she worked seven days a week to get him through college, so getting pregnant just wasn’t an option. Even when she got married and had kids, she kept up the fight for all women’s reproductive rights – because it was just the right thing to do. Read more...

Campus-Based Initiative Delivers SRH Information and Services to University Students in Nigeria

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

By: Ajidagba Emman Babatunde (Tunde), Campus Health & Rights Initiative (Nigeria)

Every year in my home country of Nigeria, there are 6.8 million pregnancies. Approximately one in five of them are unintended. There are 3.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS and 60% of new infections occur among young people ages 15 to 24. One reason for these staggering numbers is the low level of contraceptive use among young people, who encounter socio-cultural barriers that prevent them from accessing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services.

Having worked for over 10 years in the field of young adults’ sexual and reproductive health, I have seen firsthand the challenges that young people, particularly those in university settings, confront. They include engaging in risky behaviors like having transactional sex, unprotected sex, and sex with multiple partners, as well as facing the threat of sexual violence. Read more...

Plan at Hand Empowers Girls in Tanzania

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

By: Maureen Anyango Oduor, Plan At Hand Girl Empowerment Project (Tanzania)

It all started with three questions: “Why is she left out? What are the key barriers? And, what can be done to effectively change the situation?” The expulsion of pregnant schoolgirls, many of which never return, has continued to widen the gender gap and deprive adolescent girls of the right to education in Tanzania. Issues surrounding sexuality are treated with secrecy and it remains taboo to talk about sex or to be sexually active before marriage. Therefore, teenage pregnancies continue to sky rocket. Pregnant adolescents are viewed as brides, not girls. Alternatives to abstinence are highly inaccessible, as girls need parental consent to access any family planning services. Beyond that, barriers to services include cost, location of the provider, a lack of complete and correct information, and social-cultural barriers, like restrictive norms associated with adolescent girls’ sexuality and provider’s bias. Clearly, there is a dire need for a unique, inclusive, and girl-friendly family planning and reproductive health program in Tanzania, and particularly in Muheza District in Northern Tanzania. Read more...

Women Deliver at the Sports for Development Conference 2014

This past weekend, Women Deliver’s Special Project Manager, Joanna Hoffman, attended and spoke at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) One Goal Sports for Development Conference. Hoffman spoke about Women Deliver’s work to advocate for investments in the health and rights of girls and women, and moderated two sessions on Maternal Health and Nutrition and on HIV/AIDS.

Speakers in these sessions included the UNAIDS Country Director for Vietnam, Dr. Kristan Schoultz; the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) Singapore Office Director, Dr. Regina Moench-Pfanner; and former Women Deliver conference attendees Indu Capoor of the Center for Health, Education and Nutrition Awareness (CHETNA), Aiza Baldonado of Y-PEER, and Women Deliver Young Leader Shreejana Bajracharya of the Bhaktapur Youth Information Forum. Read more...

Adolescent and Youth Motherhood: What Do Comprehensive SRH Policies Look Like?

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

By: Cecilia Garcia Ruiz, Espolea (Mexico)

Advocating for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people entails much more than giving visibility to what happens when rights are restrained or denied. This endeavor requires a deep understanding of the specific needs that young people have in this regard - usually linked to individual and collective diversities - as well as of the different barriers we might encounter along the way. 

The family planning strategies implemented around the world in the last couple of decades have proven their effectiveness but not necessarily amongst the youngest population. The State of World Population1 released in 2013, revels a startling reality: 7.3 million births occur among girls under 18 every year in developing countries. Among member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which includes a number of middle-income countries, Mexico has the highest birth rate (64.2 per 1,000 births) among adolescents between 15 and 192. 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...

IPM Receives Worldwide Rights to HIV Prevention Medicine

Expanded public-private collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson will speed development and global distribution of dapivirine-based HIV prevention tools for women

The International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) announced today that it has received exclusive worldwide rights to a promising HIV prevention medicine called dapivirine from Janssen R&D Ireland, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. The agreement expands on IPM’s existing rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize dapivirine-based products for use by women in developing countries and will now give women in developed countries access to products containing dapivirine, such as a vaginal ring that combines dapivirine and a contraceptive. Read more...

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...

Celebrate Solutions: Family Planning Messages Provided in Barber Shops and Beauty Salons in Liberia

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

Since 2009, Jhpiego and USAID’s Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) have been working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to increase access to family planning information and services in Liberia. According to the 2007 Demographic and Health Survey, adolescent pregnancy continues to be a major problem, with approximately one-third of Liberian girls having begun childbearing between the ages of 15 and 19. Jhpiego and MCHIP have developed key strategies for increasing awareness and knowledge of family planning by distributing condoms in the community, engaging religious leaders to promote family planning, and integrating family planning with immunization services. 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...

Young #WomenInspire us to #InvestInGirls

By Lindsay Menard-Freeman; Originally posted on Huffington Post

March is an exciting time to celebrate girls and women. Women's History Month commemorates the pioneers of women's rights and equality, past and present. International Women's Day encourages us all to continue the fight for women's rights around the world. And this week, the United Nations 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women revives our commitments to build a better future for girls and women everywhere.

This March, however, also marks a particularly critical time for women's health and rights: For the first time in over a decade, we have an opportunity to shape a brand new global development agenda. The 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) generated unprecedented political will and funding for girls' and women's health and rights. Unfortunately though, the MDGs are quickly coming to an end just when we are beginning to gain momentum. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Access to Contraceptive Implants Increased Nine-Fold in Some African Countries

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

Between 2008 and 2012, Marie Stopes International (MSI) provided 1.7 million contraceptive implants in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a Global Health: Science and Practice article published last month. The organization’s success is based on a mix of mobile outreach, social franchising, and clinic-based service provision. Read more...

This International Women’s Day, Invest in Our Future

By: Jill Sheffield, Founder and President of Women Deliver; originally posted on Devex

Throughout the last three decades, I’ve dedicated my life’s work to improving the health and well-being of girls and women. I have tremendous gratitude for the trailblazers who made this possible — those around the globe who spoke up for the health and rights of girls and women even when it was unpopular or dangerous to do so. They have made possible all the progress we’ve seen, and inspire me to keep striving for more.

On this International Women’s Day, I want to look ahead to the future and celebrate the young men and women, many of whom weren’t even born when I began my journey, who are not only picking up the torch to advocate for women’s rights, but are carrying it with new fervor, passion and creative thinking. Read more...

Joining the Conversation

By Pamela Barnes, President and CEO of EngenderHealth; Originally posted by Huffington Post

I have just returned from a week-long trip to Ethiopia, where I traveled with a group of incredible women to learn more about the reproductive health options available for women and their families throughout the country. Our week was filled with visits to local health centers and rural hospitals, and we even had an opportunity to meet with the Minister of Health. Out of the many things we experienced, one particular day stood out most for me: In a remote agrarian village in Amhara, a community dialogue among 30 local women left a big impression on me. The sights, sounds, and lessons from that day have been on my mind ever since. Read more...

 

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