All posts tagged: Reproductive Health

Breastfeeding and the Sustainable Development Goals

Breastfeeding is an essential part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and can be mirrored in not only the most obvious ones – like Zero Hunger and Good Health and Well-being – but in many (if not all) of the other goals. Its impact and benefit for the baby, mother and thus society as a whole might not be the main target of the goal, but indirectly many linkages can be recognized. Breast milk is, and always has been free. The costs for formula on the other hand, can have huge impact on a household’s budget. Our babies don’t need anything else – not even water – for the first six months of their lives, if they are exclusively breastfed (of course, there are always exceptions to the rule). With adequate information and support, nearly all mothers can breastfeed their children, no matter their financial situation. What an amazing, effective and inexpensive intervention in the battle to end poverty! Zero Hunger and Good Health and Well-Being are essential goals towards global sustainability and equality, and they …

Girls Shouldn’t Feel Ashamed at That Time of the Month – Period!

My name is Barbara Namuddu, a peer educator with Reach A Hand, Uganda (RAHU) and I would like to tell you a story. A story that am not afraid to talk about because I am a girl and am proud to say that being a girl is not a punishment. I have been volunteering with RAHU for nine months now under the Peer Educators Academy program where I have had an opportunity to interact with my peers in schools. My interaction is mainly premised on listening to their issues so that I, as a peer educator armed with the right information, can help them overcome their challenges. It’s not a surprise that as a girl, fellow girls always feel open to share problems that they go through with me since they know that I, have also gone through the same. I am sure any girl reading this is nodding her head in agreement. From the peer learning sessions I conduct, I always find out so many terrible tales happening to young girls in school (but …

Why We Still Need to Talk about Maternal Mortality, and What We Can Do to Prevent It

Although women are benefitting from massive healthcare improvements in pregnancy and childbirth in the last century, many of them still die from complications and not all women receive equal access to these healthcare opportunities. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 830 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications every day. At the end of 2015, about 303,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth. Most of these deaths happened in developing countries and could have been prevented. These shocking statistics reflect unequal access to healthcare services and highlight the gap between the rich and the poor. In fact, 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries and more than half of these deaths occur in humanitarian settings. In addition, for every 100,000 live births, the maternal mortality ratio in developing countries is 239 compared to 12 in developed countries. Moreover, the probability that a 15-year-old woman will die from a maternal cause is 1 in 4900 in developed countries compared to 1 in 180 in developing countries. Many of these women …

Let’s Talk About Sex – The Importance of Sexual Education

When I was in the seventh grade we started having classes about sex. Everyone thought this was an awkward thing to talk about and no one really understood why we had to do it. Everyone knew that we were supposed to wait until we felt ready and use a condom, right? A few weeks ago I visited an upper secondary girls’ school in Tanzania and one of the girls came to me with a question. She was 17 years old and asked me what I thought about sex before marriage. Since sex is something that  you shouldn’t have before marriage according to the prevailing norms and and religious views in Tanzania, I felt quite uncomfortable. I didn’t want to step on her toes and say something ”wrong”. So I told her that in Sweden, having sex before marriage is quite common and nothing that is considered weird or abnormal. I was a little nervous of how she would react since it is a tricky and very personal question. This girl continued to tell me that …

Unsafe abortions: The silent epidemic

Enabling access to maternal health services for women and girls including access to safe abortion brings to light sensitive issues in cultures around the world and presents a diverse discussion on women’s health. The World Health Organization describes unsafe abortion as a silent epidemic  that requires an urgent public health and human rights imperative. The silent epidemic threatens the life of women and girls across the world and in Kenya as well. Despite its frequently morbid effects and high contribution to maternal mortality, unsafe abortion remains one of the most neglected global public health challenges. As a public health and women’s health rights issue, unsafe abortion is advanced by misconceptions about the procedure and misinformation about its legality, amongst other socio-cultural factors that in many countries hinder women’s and girls’ access to safe and legal abortion services. According to the African Population Health and Research Centre, at least 2,600 women die from unsafe abortion in Kenya every year; 16 % of abortions in Kenya involve women below 20 years of age, while women between the ages …

The Diary of an Indian sex-educator

Her: “Is it possible for you to talk on menstruation and child sexual abuse to young girls?” Me: “Sure! What age are they?” Her: “Studying in Class 5 and 6.” Me: “Great! That shouldn’t be a problem.” Her: “There is one thing though, you can’t talk about sex.” Awkward silence followed. I had no choice but to agree. This was my first encounter with sex-ed. I had been working with a feminist organisation in Hyderabad for a year already. I was 24 years old. I trained on legal rights, human rights and legislations but had not started training on sex, sexuality or reproductive health, for that matter. Those were reserved for experienced trainers. The above conversation was merely an introduction to the long list of conditions sex educators must work with. To prepare for this class in a private school in a posh part of the city, I spent two weeks reading. I read about the human body. I studied how the parts looked. I read books for kids, for adults, for trainers, for teachers …

CDC’s Infographic and the Double Standard of Behavior

  A man has a beer and is featured in TV commercials. He’s cool, he’s “one of the guys.” But time and time again, women are called out, shamed, and even blamed for the behavior of others for doing the same thing. In 2013, Hong Kong Security Secretary Lai Tung-kwok appealed to young ladies to stop drinking too much because of the increase in rape cases. The Missoula Montana Police Department has a history of blaming rape victims for alcohol use, and Crimewatch creator Nick Ross suggested that “not all rape is rape” when the victim is drunk. Now, the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) has released this infographic in their monthly Vital Signs report. The CDC infographic intends to prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). As the CDC states, “alcohol use during pregnancy, even within the first few weeks and before a woman knows she is pregnant, can cause lasting physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities that can last for a child’s lifetime.” Understanding the harmful effects of alcohol during pregnancy and even the …

Zika Virus: The hypocrisy of telling women to delay pregnancy

Featured image: Marcos Freitas/Flickr, Creative Commons If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you’ve probably seen headlines about the Zika virus outbreak which began in Brazil and is now spreading to other countries in Latin America. The virus is spread through mosquito bites, and common symptoms of the disease include rash and joint pain. The disease is usually mild, and rarely requires hospital treatment. That is, unless you’re a pregnant woman. After the outbreak in Brazil, authorities have reported numerous cases where the virus has caused severe malformalities in babies whose mothers were infected while pregnant, including microcephaly, which is a condition where the baby is born with an abnormally small head and severe brain damage. As a result several countries in the region, including Brazil, El Salvador, Jamaica, Colombia and Honduras, have urged women not to get pregnant and advised foreign pregnant women against traveling to the region until further notice. El Salvador’s Deputy Health Minister has taken the most extreme stance so far – urging women in El Salvador to postpone pregnancy until 2018. Advising …

Youth Voices on Family Planning: Networking, Memes, and the Internet

Stories and Photos by: Luke Nozicka and Jennifer Gonzalez, The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting Women Should be Able to Choose When and How They Want to Start a Family If Sarah McKee could speak to the world’s leaders about family planning, she would let them know that women should be able to choose when and how they want to start a family. McKee, 24, of Charlottesville, Virginia, a project associate at Management Sciences for Health who works with the Leadership, Management and Governance Project, said involving people that interventions are created for is crucial. “Having everyone at the table and making sure it’s not tokenism, ya know?” she said at the fourth International Conference on Family Planning in Bali, Indonesia. When asked what she wants to come from this year’s conference, McKee said she hopes “policy makers and grassroots delegates” network to help provide more comprehensive education and access to family planning. One of the Best Ways to Connect Teenagers to Family Planning is Through Internet Memes and Videos Judith Gomez, who has been a …

ICFP 2016: Family planning as a human right

Featured image: UN Photo/Kibae Park On the shuttle bus from the airport I sat between a young woman from India and a young woman from Zimbabwe. Having traveled from three different corners of world, we all arrived ready to share our family planning knowledge and experiences while learning from others at the Fourth International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP). The United Nations recognizes family planning as a human right and this week activists, advocates, humanitarians, health practitioners, private sector representatives and scholars from across the globe are together in Nusa Dua, Indonesia to discuss how this human right can go from being a lofty goal to a global norm. At the heart of family planning is a woman’s right to choose whether or not  and with whom she will have children, as well as her right to control the timing, spacing and number of children she chooses to have. At this conference, we are reflecting on the challenges and opportunities in providing girls and women with access to this human right. As part of looking at and …