Month: June 2015

Increasing Knowledge and Confidence During Crisis

 This post was authored by Sunita Palekar Joergensen of the International Rescue Committee, a member of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. Over one million Syrians have fled to Lebanon since the onset of the brutal civil war in 2011. With families struggling to deal with displacement, loss, and life in a new country, many members of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls (CAG) have been providing support to increase healing, continue educational services, and strengthen life skills and opportunities for women and girls. According to the Women’s Refugee Commission, adolescent girls account for an increasing portion of displaced persons. They also face a unique set of risks, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), human trafficking, social isolation, and early marriage. Conflict and displacement severely disrupts access to education and for adolescents this disruption comes at a pivotal time when they should be receiving comprehensive education about their sexual and reproductive health. The International Rescue Committee (IRC), like several active CAG members, is dedicated to responding to the needs of women and girls in crisis settings. In …

National Geographic Photographers Provide Syrian Refugees With Family Portraits

A Syrian woman presses a framed photo against her chest. The photo features one of the only things she has left: her family. For a moment, she is reminded that home is far more than just a place. Photographers from Ripple Effect Images arrived in Jordan last month with a unique mission: to offer a photograph to every Syrian refugee family in a camp of 18,000 people. Since the start of the Syrian civil war in March 2011, an estimated 9 million Syrians have been displaced, often fleeing without so much as a family portrait. The Ripple Effect Images team, including National Geographic photographers Lynn Johnson and Annie Griffiths and award winning filmmaker Nacho Corbella, spent two weeks providing family photos and gathering personal stories that will be used to raise funding for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In the refugee camp, Ripple photographers met farmers and doctors, teachers and shopkeepers, university students and engineers whose lives were torn apart by war. The gift of a simple family photo lit up their eyes, …

Girls’ Voices Matter

This post was authored by Ariel Cerrud and Nicole Cheetham of Advocates for Youth, a member of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. In a sea of experts, government leaders, advocates, and law-makers, it’s easy to lose sight of who knows best about the lives of adolescent girls: adolescent girls themselves. Often, and to our detriment, the international development community fails to appreciate the unique needs of adolescent girls and the valuable insights they can bring to our programs and policies.  Girls’ voices and opinions are strong, their ideas are informed by direct experience, and their contributions often make organizations more effective. Like many members of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls, at Advocates for Youth we envision a society in which all young people are valued, respected, and treated with dignity. Valuing young people, especially adolescent girls, means authentically involving them in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the programs and policies that affect their health and well-being. By working directly with young leaders, especially girls in the global south, we can empower them to advocate for …

Global Displacement at a Record High – Even for Expecting & New Mothers

Over 42,000 people fled their homes every single day in 2014, the UN refugee agency UNHCR reported in the release of their annual report last week. The number of displaced people in the world today has hit an all time high due to war and conflict, amounting to almost 60 million people – half of them children. If all these people formed a country, it would be the 24th largest and more than 6 times the population of my home country, Sweden. So, what actually happens to people who have been forced from their homes and away from their every-day lives? Most are displaced within their country or in neighboring countries, where life is on hold at a refugee camp – without access to basic necessities and activities, like jobs and education. The majority of refugees don’t find a safe haven in Europe or other western countries, and only a small number of people have the option to take the risky, if not deadly, journey across the Mediterranean. In the example of Syria, Hans Rosling …

Media Misrepresentation

Media is a powerful mechanism to spread information. Whether they are fashion models, sport stars or celebrities, the media promotes figures who become role models for young people. This is particularly true for young girls. Celebrities and other “role models” often become a misrepresentation of reality. Young girls receive mixed messages which often place expectations on them to be beautiful, girly and appear as fragile. In my country of Nepal, young women are flooded with messages from the media pressuring them to have the smallest waist, lovely long hair and a fair complexion. The gorgeous photos of young women on magazines, advertisement banners and other media are beautiful. However, these often unattainable photo shopped images create unnecessary pressure on young women. Young women often go to great lengths to achieve the media’s version of beauty. The result? Many girls develop eating disorders, those with fair skin apply various beauty products while the deemed “unpopular” girls try to reduce the size of their skirts so they will be noticed. Why? The media sends the message to young women: Our value exists in our bodies. Media has devalued the existence of women. Women are expected to …

The Global Gag Rule – How American Policy Affects Women Globally

In 2013, Wendy Davis’ now-famous filibuster pushed the issue of women’s reproductive rights in the United States into the limelight. Davis stood for a monumental 11 hours, donning pink running shoes with her business suit, to block a bill that would restrict abortion rights. Davis galvanized pro-choice activists across the country (and inflamed pro-lifers), but although she managed to stir great fuss over the rights of women on U.S. soil, there has been no such figure to represent the issue of the profound effect of U.S. policy on reproductive rights abroad. It is no secret that much of the world’s foreign aid comes from the United States. In a display of the country’s enormous wealth, the USA gave the largest amount in dollar figures, standing around 32 billion dollars in 2013, according to the OECD. (Paradoxically, it is also one of the countries that gave the least money in terms of percentage of its GNI, spending 0.19 percent. The most generous country was actually Norway, which dedicated 1.07 percent of it’s GNI to foreign aid.) What the …

Rev. Harry Knox, president and chief executive officer, The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) is joined by faith leaders and human rights advocates at a press conference across the street from the White House to call on President Obama to take executive action on access to safe abortion for women and girls raped in conflict. Photo Credit: John Nelson Photography

Faith Leaders, Advocates, Urge Obama to Break Barriers to Safe Abortion

Rev. Harry Knox, president and chief executive officer, The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) is joined by faith leaders and human rights advocates at a press conference across the street from the White House to call on President Obama to take executive action on access to safe abortion for women and girls raped in conflict. Photo Credit: John Nelson Photography   By Serra Sippel, president, the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) On June 4, faith leaders and human rights advocates from around the world gathered at St. John’s Episcopal Church, across the street from the White House, to call on President Obama to stand with women and girls raped in conflict. We called on him to take immediate action in ensuring access to abortion for women and girls around the world. Right now, across the globe, too many women and girls who are raped, who survive incest, or whose lives are in danger from a pregnancy are being denied access to safe abortion care because the U.S. government has failed to correctly …

Droughts, Deserts: Women’s & Children’s Health in India

Over the last 15 years India has been struck with numerous natural disasters that have killed thousands and leaving many more men, women, and children in despair. The country is at high risk for natural disasters and is exposed to floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes, and landslides. From urban cities to rural villages, communities are ripped apart and families struggle to survive in the aftermath. Even more so are women and girls at an even higher risk of displacement and exploitation than their male counterparts. As NGO staff, social workers, health practitioners, and policy makers our understanding of the implications between gender and natural disasters is critical to effective disaster management that reduce the vulnerability of women and girls. Rajasthan is one of the most drought-affected states in the country. In 2002, the entire state experienced a severe drought which caused a shortage in food, water, employment, and farming. Because of the drought crops are destroyed, cattle die, and a family’s source of income is depleted. Families are unable to provide a steady diet for their …

Day of the African Child: It is Time to End Child Marriage

As the Region prepares to mark the Day of the African Child, the African Union has estimated that 58 million young women in developing countries have been married off before their 18th birthday. At the present trend, by 2020, 143 million girls would be married before age 18, an alarming average of 14.2 million girls every single year. On June 16, 1976, nearly ten thousand black students from Soweto, South Africa, marched the streets to protest the poor quality of their education and demanding their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of innocent students were shot by security forces. And in the 2 weeks of protest that followed, dubbed the Soweto Uprising, more than a hundred students were killed and thousands were seriously injured. Since 1991, Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 to commemorate those killed during the Soweto Uprising in South Africa, and to recognize the courage of the students who marched for their right to an education. Every year, a theme is identified and this year’s …

Mumbai Midwifery: An Interview with Lina Duncan

Originally posted on Maternal Matters. Maternal Matters is so excited to feature British midwife and global citizen, Lina Duncan, who set up Mumbai Midwife – Justlink Health Services India Pvt Ltd, a private midwifery practice, in India. Thanks Lina for taking the time to be interviewed for Maternal Month – this will be insightful and inspiring for many!     1. Why and where did you train to be a midwife? I “stumbled” into a school in El Paso, Texas whilst on travels, with blue hair and no set future plan. I joined the Primary Health Care course for third world settings, and towards the end, I decided to not jump into the next segment of the school and train as a midwife, would be like walking out of a five star restaurant after the appetiser! 2. What are you most passionate about as a midwife? That’s easy – dignity and respect. I have learnt something at every birth I attended and the more I learn, the more I realise the importance of keeping things …