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Ramping Up Production: Providing Contraception to Millions More Girls and Women in Africa and Asia

By: Katja Iversen, CEO, Women Deliver

Last week I saw a good example of what it means to “walk the talk” - taking commitments made in big meetings and turning them into action that will potentially benefit millions of girls and women around the world. I participated in the unveiling of a new state-of-the-art production plant in Oss, Netherlands, that will provide 10 million contraceptive implants annually destined for use in developing countries in Asia and Africa. Read more...

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...

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...

The Power of Peer-Education in Preventing HIV/AIDS among Female Sex Workers

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

By: Chukwudera Bridget Okeke, Concern Women International Development Initiative (Nigeria)

My project in Nigeria’s Benue State aims to make real change in the lives of female sex workers (FSW) and their clients by enhancing their knowledge of HIV/AIDS and empowering them to negotiate safer sex with their clients. In Benue State, female workers account for just 1% of the population but make up 23% of new HIV infections. I strongly believe that knowledge of sexual and reproductive health and rights, including HIV/AIDS, among female sex workers will go a long way in creating positive behavior change and, in turn, will reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. 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...

45 Percent Fewer Women Die Giving Life—More Would Survive If They Counted

Women Deliver welcomes two new studies that highlight reductions in maternal mortality and the causes behind those deaths, but calls for further improvements in overall data collection for girls and women

6 May 2014 – The number of women dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth has declined by 45 percent, from 523,000 in 1990 to an estimated 289,000 in 2013, according to a new study, Trends in Maternal Mortality Estimates 1990-2013, released today by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), The World Bank and the United Nations Population Division.

The progress is noteworthy, but the decline is less than what is needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by 75 percent between 1990 and 2015. 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...

Press Release: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights are Crucial to Ending Poverty

Originally posted by IPPF

United Nations, New York: A new report launched today reveals that sexual and reproductive health and rights are still nowhere near high enough up on the UN’s list of priorities. The International Planned Parenthood Federation’s (IPPF) “Sexual and reproductive health and rights: a crucial agenda for the post-2015 framework” report, unveiled on the first day of the United Nations Committee on the Status of Women (CSW), argues if Member States and the UN fail to prioritize women and girls, or sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), then the next development framework cannot hope to end poverty. Read more...

International Women’s Day: Give Yourself the Chance to Be Extraordinary

By Saundra Pelletier; Originally posted by Huffington Post

Saundra Pelletier is the CEO of WomanCare Global, an international nonprofit organization that improves the lives of women by providing access to quality, affordable women’s healthcare products through a sustainable supply chain.

As I think about International Women's Day on March 8th, it reminds me that throughout my life I have been groomed by a series of extraordinary women who have always encouraged me to be an advocate for women who need a louder voice. I grew up in Caribou, Maine, a small town distinguished only because it is the Northern-most city in the United States. Women in this farming community were told they had only two important choices in life: whom they would marry and how many children they would bear. My mother felt oppressed by this mentality, so when I was 5 years old she told me, "Domestic skills won't get you out of Caribou, so you leave those to me and I'll teach you what's really important."

Instead of dusting and cooking, my household tasks included balancing the checkbook, educating my younger brother and organizing family activities. My mother's reluctance to raise another Betty Crocker became blatantly obvious when I started kindergarten and she sent me to school with a briefcase instead of a lunchbox. According to her, school was not about what your lunch looked like, it was about progress. Read more...

Women Deliver Young Leader Esther Agbarakwe Nominated for Award

Esther Agbarakwe, one of the 2010 Women Deliver Young Leaders and a speaker at the 2013 Women Deliver global conference has been nominated for the Vlisco Women’s Month Award for her outstanding work as an exceptional climate change policy expert and advocate for the rights of women and girls in Nigeria.The Vlisco Women’s Month Awards celebrate inspiring women in West and Central Africa annually during the month of March. This year’s theme is Dare to Dream: A tribute to women who have faith and courage to realize their dreams.Read more...

Former Women Deliver Co-Chair Appointed to Tanzania Cabinet

This week, the President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, announced the appointment of Saada Mkuya as Finance Minister and Asha-rose Migiro as Minister of Constitutional and Legal Affairs. These appointments of two women to powerful government positions are seen as part of an ongoing effort to promote gender equality within Tanzania. Migiro was named Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2006, making her the first woman in Tanzania to hold this position. Read more...

The Most Inspiring Women and Girls I Met This Year

By: Melinda Gates, Originally posted by Impatient Optimists

Nargis Shirazi, featured in the article below, is one of Women Deliver's 100 Young Leaders selected to attend the Women Deliver 2013 Conference.  
 
One of the things I love about my job is the women and girls I meet as I travel around the world and around the country — from high-ranking government officials to mothers in remote villages in northern India to high school teachers in the Bronx. I'm struck by the common goals and aspirations that they share. They want to create a better future for themselves, their children, and their families. They want to improve their own communities, and also aspire to create change at a national and global scale. Read more...

 

 

Looking Forward: From Problems to Progress

By: Saundra Pelletier; Originally posted on Huffington Post

As this year comes to a close, I'll take this time for reflection and introspection -- to celebrate the successes, lament the missteps and be grateful for how far WomanCare Global has come. But it won't be long before I'll start thinking about tomorrow and the work that needs to be done. It's critical work because our world needs women -- and women need to have choices. Regardless of what motivates you, whether it's global warming, nutrition, agriculture or clean water, I am certain that the first step forward is providing women and girls with safe, affordable and sustainable contraceptive choice. Read more...

Experiencing the Clinton Global Initiative: Committed to Sustainable Change

By: Saundra Pelletier; Originally posted on Huffington Post

We have all attended conferences knowing that 10% will be substantive and 90% will be superfluous. CGI is not that conference. The substance of the program is unparalleled. Each of the main speakers is a well-developed leader in an area of global change and is strategically selected to provoke ideas and facilitate thoughtful exchange. And, as a result, this meeting left many of us realizing that sustainable change ABSOLUTELY requires total commitment and dedication. Not only do we all need to be better global citizens, but we must constantly recruit others to join us on the journey. Read more...

Women’s Equality Day: Mobilizing the Women of the World

By: Saundra Pelletier, WomanCare Global; Originally posted on Huffington Post

What does investing in women and in their ability to advocate for themselves mean for the world? In Caribou, Maine, where I'm from, girls had two choices when they were growing up - who they would marry and how many children they would have. There were many "invisible women" who lacked access to resources, powerful female role models and, above all, choice. My mother encouraged me to advocate for myself and for those who felt invisible. As the CEO of WomanCare Global, a non-profit women's health company focused on delivering high-quality healthcare products, I believe that empowering women by ensuring their reproductive choice is critical for women who simply want to provide a better quality of life for their children and ultimately, themselves. On a global scale, an investment in female empowerment ensures healthier, wealthier and better educated communities. Read more...

 

Op-Ed: Put ladies first with education and contraception in Tanzania

By: Suzanne Ehlers and Halima Shariff; Originally posted in the Global Post

Empowering Tanzania’s next generation of women means committing to contraception today.

As First Ladies from around the world, including Michelle Obama, gather in Tanzania on Tuesday to talk about women’s empowerment, it’s crucial that both education and contraception are addressed. Tanzania has one of the world’s youngest populations, with nearly 45 percent under the age of 15. That represents a huge number of young women who will soon face choices about education, careers, sex, childbearing and marriage.

WHO Report Highlights Violence Against Women as a Global Health Problem

Original news release posted on the World Health Organization website

Physical or sexual violence is a public health problem that affects more than one third of all women globally, according to a new report released by WHO in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council.

The report, Global and regional estimates of violence against women: Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence, represents the first systematic study of global data on the prevalence of violence against women – both by partners and non-partners. Some 35% of all women will experience either intimate partner or non-partner violence. The study finds that intimate partner violence is the most common type of violence against women, affecting 30% of women worldwide. Read more...

An Africa Fit for Women and Girls

By: Yemurai Nyoni, Women Deliver 100 Young Leader; Originally posted on allAfrica

I believe in an Africa that is fit for women and girls; that protects their well-being and creates a supportive environment for them to realise their aspirations. As I look at the work done by African states in pursuit of gender equality, I am convinced that the continent is either on course for another dismal episode in the empowerment of women, or it's on the brink of a women's rights revolution.

The failure of African leadership in safeguarding the rights of women thus far has resulted in a sad state of affairs, where being a young African woman is perhaps the most perilous form of identity in the continent. Read more...

Global Leaders Call for Accelerated Progress on Family Planning at Women Deliver 2013

Melinda Gates, Babatunde Osotimehin and others highlight progress in expanding contraceptive access

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 29 May 2013 – On the second day of Women Deliver 2013, the largest conference on girls and women of the decade, global leaders announced progress and new commitments toward expanding contraceptive access for women in developing countries. They also outlined plans for sustaining this momentum in the years to come. Read more...

Women’s Rights in Global Cartoons

By: Liza Donnelly, Forbes Contributor; Originally posted on Forbes

The global advocacy group, Women Deliver, is hosting its third conference, May 28-30, 2013, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This conference brings together thousands of activists, world leaders, healthcare professionals, corporate leaders, NGOs and global media outlets from around the world to discuss how to help improve the lives of women and girls. For the event, I was honored to be invited to curate an exhibit of international cartoonist’s art on the subject of women’s rights. The artwork, gathered from cartoonists from 22 different countries, is also collected and published in a book, titled, “Women Deliver, The World Receives.” It was wonderful to be given the opportunity to invite my colleagues to submit their artwork on the subject of women and women’s rights. Cartoons can get at the heart of difficult and important subjects in ways that words often cannot. It takes a village, and the village usually has a cartoonist or two. Read more...

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