Author: Gabrielle Rocha Rios

Removing Barriers to the Fulfilment of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

During this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), I had the privilege of attending an event on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) promoted by EngenderHealth. The 2017 theme for the CSW was “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work”. It may seem as though the topic of sexual and reproductive health and rights does not fit into this theme, but in fact there is a strong link between economic empowerment and sexual and reproductive rights. For women to truly be able to enjoy economic empowerment and equality with men in the workforce and elsewhere, they need to be given the information they need to make decisions about their bodies and reproductive choices. Unplanned pregnancies during adolescence, contracting an STI, HIV/AIDS, and having to deal with the complications of childbirth are all examples of situations that put women at a disadvantage to men economically and in the workforce. With the proper knowledge and access to services, women, starting at a young age, can be empowered to take charge of their bodies …

What is the “Global Gag Rule” and what does it mean for Women and Girls?

Two days after the Women’s March, the new president of the Unites States signed an executive order reinstating the Mexico City Policy, popularly known as the “Global Gag Rule”. The moment was captured in an emblematic photo: Donald Trump – surrounded by men – signing an order that so significantly affects the lives of women around the world, in what many described on social media as a picture of patriarchy. If you’re wondering what patriarchy looks like: A group of white men watch as Trump reinstates the #GlobalGagRule pic.twitter.com/ZV1OX41ziF — Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) January 23, 2017 This group just made it more difficult for women to get access to health care worldwide. You tell me what’s wrong with this picture. pic.twitter.com/8UQFWg8qO3 — Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 23, 2017 But what exactly is this controversial policy, and what are its implications for women, girls and beyond around the world? 1) The policy’s origins This policy is a U.S. government foreign policy. It was not originally created by Trump, simply reinstated by him. It was created by the …

The Women Marched. Now What?

London. Miami. Nairobi. New York. Tokyo. All over the world, women (and men!) took over the streets of their cities to join in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, which took place on the day after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. 21 January 2017 It was a day when history was made. My social media and news feeds were flooded with articles, pictures, videos and comments about the women’s marches around the world. It’s impressive the reach that these marches had – literally on every continent – and I truly believe this fact cannot be belittled or ignored. The marches brought together people from different age groups and backgrounds, although the fact remains that some indigenous, women of color and other minorities felt left out and divided from the white majority that attended the marches. Important issues of the intersection between gender, race, class and religion were brought up during the marches, which amplifies their significance and relevance. However, for the goals of the marches to become reality and …

“Speaking the Unspeakable”: Sexual Violence in Conflict

Their suffering and desperation was so great that they begged them to kill them, to end their pain once and for all… but the men who had been raping them replied, “No, we’re going to leave you alive so you can die of sadness.” This is the harrowing story told in the documentary “The Uncondemned” of the first time genocide, rape and sexual violence were prosecuted in an international tribunal. But this isn’t just a story of sadness and grief; it’s also a story of hope and healing. It is a story about the three brave survivors and witnesses who testified at the tribunal, identified then only as JJ, NN and OO. Co-director Michele Mitchell said: “In the face of enormous tragedy and pain, the fact that three of them were laughing about the plane journey shows their great resilience and demonstrates how they had kept their humanity.” I was privileged to watch this amazing documentary when it was screening in New York City. I left the theater with a heavy heart, but also feeling extremely encouraged and …

Brazil’s Problem: Violence Against Women

The movement #NiUnaMenos started in Argentina, but its message and impact has crossed the borders of the country and is now the voice of all Latin America protesting violence against women. On November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women established by the United Nations, women marched in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and other cities against the epidemic indexes of violence against women in Brazil. In a video of the protests in Rio shared on Facebook by Hermanas, a page dedicated to bridge Brazilian feminism to that of the rest of Latin America, women were singing, “violence against women is not the world that we want.” Data shows just how serious the reality of femicides and violence against women is in Brazil: According to the UN, Brazil has the 5th highest index of femicides in the world. According to PRI, “the number of women killed in homicides in Brazil keeps on increasing” (see Graphic 1 below). Also according to PRI, this number is higher among black women (see Graphic 2 below), …

10-Year-Old Girls are the Future of the World

According to the latest State of World Population by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), girls at the decisive age of 10 are the future of the world. At this age, girls are moving away from the world of childhood towards the world of adolescence and adulthood. In this season of life, it’s essential that girls be presented with opportunities, encouraged to dream big, given tools to pursue those dreams, and have access to education and health care. For many girls around the world, this phase of life is when they begin to face the reality of limited choices in life compared to boys and when they become more vulnerable to discrimination and gender violence. This reality needs to be changed, not only for the good of these girls, but also for the good of their societies and the world as a whole. Here are 4 reasons why investing in 10-year-old girls is good for the world: 1) Access to education is not only a human right, but it’s essential to helping girls achieve their full potential. …