Month: August 2015

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Female Genital Cutting is a Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Issue

By Bergen Cooper, Senior Policy Research Associate and Beirne Roose-Snyder, Director of Public Policy The practice of female genital cutting (FGC), also called female genital mutilation (FGM) or FGM/C, is a human rights and gender equality issue. FGC violates a host of human rights principles including non-discrimination on the basis of sex, the right to bodily integrity, the right to life, and the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. But, FGC also is a sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issue and as such should be included in programs and policies that address maternal health, reproductive health, family planning, and HIV prevention, treatment, and care. Ending FGC is an important and necessary priority for organizations, governments, advocates and women and girls globally. While we continue to work on ending FGC, we must also collectively address the lives of women and girls living with FGC today. According to UNICEF, there are an estimated 133 million women and girls around the world who are living with the effects of FGC – that’s …

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Musings of a Global Feminist

Different kinds of oppression exist around the world, but for this post I will focus on gender oppression in sub-Saharan Africa and the US. Being a woman often times leaves one at a disadvantage, no matter where one lives in both these places. The US happens to be a place where people are quickly placed into categories — through stereotypes and generalizations– and I have come to learn that being a woman of color adds a layer of complexity which exposes one to additional forms and degrees of discrimination. That said, women and girls have more freedom and opportunities in the US as compared to many , countries worldwide.  Exposure to these opportunities is part of what motivated me to join a team of global feminists based in Uganda and around the world, working tirelessly to fight for girls who do not have the kinds of opportunities they need and deserve in order flourish in life. Coming to the US from Zimbabwe opened my eyes in a lot of ways. In my opinion, the liberties women …

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Innovation for Maternal and Child Health

Originally posted on International Innovation  CEO Ros Davies talks to International Innovation about the many dangers and injustices faced by mothers and infants in low-resource settings, and how communities can work together to create effective interventions and reduce pregnancy related mortality and morbidity.  Women and Children First work in some of the world’s poorest communities to prevent maternal and infant mortality. Can you outline some of the organisation’s priority areas for action? In general, our priority areas are marginalised communities in countries that still suffer from high rates of maternal and newborn mortality. Our main body of work focuses on populations in rural settings, who often have great difficulties in accessing health services because of distance, poor transport links or unaffordable costs. The ‘Countdown to 2015: Maternal, Newborn & Child Survival’ has highlighted that there are still 75 countries with unacceptably high maternal and/or newborn death rates. As we’re a small organisation with limited resources and funding to work internationally, we focus on a small number of countries – currently, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda. …

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Unearthing Safe Environments for Children and Women

In 2013, SUSTAIN Cameroon initiated the pilot step to introduce workable approaches to child protection through mobilizing school administrators and some community leaders for them to identify the important role they play in providing children with a safe environment. Strengthening the approach required the introduction of mechanisms to empower women economically and ensure financial security for their families. It is additionally important to provide for the education, health, and wellbeing of their children and other OVCs identified in the rural communities as a means to provide primary protection against violence. In 2014, we received a grant from the Pollination Project to kick start activities towards introducing community models to combat violence against women and children and to contribute to ending hunger and poverty in milieus of rural communities for women and children. Sustain Cameroon believes when children stay permanently in school and/or are linked to vocational skills training opportunities, there are fewer chances for their abuse. Efforts to maintain access to basic rights for women and children are perennial indicators for safe and secure environments for children …

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Women Leading Change

By Solange Ipmanoyimana Rwanda is ranked among the countries with the fastest growing rate of economic development worldwide – but it hasn’t always been this way. Looking back at my childhood, I grew up observing gender inequalities in my community. In the rural areas women were the ones to spend more hours working on the farms, doing chores, and preparing food for the family. Men, on the other hand, were expected to work morning hours and spend the afternoon resting and taking local brews. Though it wasn’t exactly the same in the urban areas, the circumstances weren’t that much different because the women still did all the work at home while the men were in bars. Though women were educated, they would follow the norms of gender. We were taught never to speak in the presence of men or question a man’s judgment. Women were totally dependent on men’s ideas and decisions. Even if women worked many hours with barely any time to rest, they weren’t allowed to make any decisions, including the small ones …

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Marathons While Menstruating

On Sunday morning I went to a hotel fitness room for a run. While on the treadmill, I heard news about US politician Donald Trump. Referring to Meghan Kelly, the news moderator who hosted a republican debate that he participated in, Trump said that during the debate she had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her — wherever.” Her wherever meant her vagina; he was talking about menstruation. Mentioning menstruation is perhaps the quickest and easiest way to disregard, disempower and disadvantage girls and women. Menstruation is a normal biological function, but, happening to the female half of the population, it has been a symbol of weakness, emotion and incapability for centuries. Gloria Steinem mused that if men could menstruate, “clearly, menstruation would become an enviable, worthy, masculine event.” Still frustrated over Trump’s comments, off of the treadmill I received some positive menstruation news: 26 year old Kiran Gandi ran the London Marathon while on her period- without using a pad or tampon. Kiran, who had been training for a year …

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Why We Can’t Ignore Adolescent Mothers

This post was authored by Sofia Mussa and Malwina Maslowska of WomenOne on behalf of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls.  Worldwide, an estimated 32 million adolescent girls are out of school. Barriers to secondary education disproportionately affect girls and include poverty, gender-based violence, child marriage, and pregnancy. WomenOne, along with members of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls (CAG), is dedicated to identifying the most hard-to-reach populations of girls and developing programs to ensure that no girl is denied her right to education. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), adolescent pregnancy is a major obstacle to girls’ education. Over half of all births in SSA are to adolescent girls aged 15-19. Additionally, government policies prevent many girls from staying in school while pregnant and continuing their education after delivery. In Sierra Leone, where nearly half of all girls become pregnant during adolescence, visibly pregnant girls and young mothers are prohibited from attending school and taking exams. National policies in Uganda allow schools to expel pregnant students despite laws aiming to achieve gender equality in education, and girls in …

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Young Women, The Makers of Change By 2030

Originally published on The Huffington Post – Global Motherhood. This year my daughter will celebrate her first birthday. I became a mother last year for the first time, and it is the most beautiful gift and the most amazing adventure! Yet, having a daughter does make me a bit concerned; the world has not come as far as I would have liked. With alarming rates of gender-based violence, remaining high levels of maternal mortality in some areas of the world, and widespread discrimination of women in homes, schools, workplaces and in public spheres, I fear that this is not the place I want to raise my daughter. As the new Sustainable Development Goals are set this year, it is my hope that gender equality and the rights and health of women and girls are taken seriously. It is my hope that all girls will grow up free from violence and discrimination. I have reason to believe these goals are achievable. As a young leader of a global network of young women and girls, I am confident that they will be …