ASTRA Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health

Mar 06 2015

Twenty years after the adoption of Beijing, this version of the Political Declaration is not what women need.

There has been tremendous progress toward gender equality and the realization of the human rights of women and girls. However, many of the gains that women and girls have made are under threat and women and girls worldwide face extraordinary and unprecedented challenges, including economic inequality, climate change and ocean acidification, and rising, violent fundamentalisms. At a time when urgent action is needed to fully realize gender equality, the human rights and empowerment of women and girls, we need renewed commitment, a heightened level of ambition, real resources, and accountability. This Political Declaration, instead, represents a bland reaffirmation of existing commitments that fails to match the level of ambition in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and in fact threatens a major step backward.

Mar 03 2015

The fifty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 9 to 20 March 2015. Representatives of Member States , UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world will attend the session.

The main focus of the session will be on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, including current challenges that affect its implementation and the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Commission will undertake a review of progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. The review (Beijing+20) will also include the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly, the first five-year assessment conducted after the adoption of the Platform for Action, which highlighted further actions and initiatives.

The session will also address opportunities for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women in the post-2015 development agenda.

The BEIJING+20 SUMMARY REPORT is a synthesis of the Secretary-General's report (E/CN.6/2015/3) on the 20-year review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly. The report provides a review of national-level implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, including current challenges that affect the implementation of the Platform for Action and the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women, as well as opportunities for strengthening gender equality and the empowerment of women in the post-2015 development agenda through the integration of a gender perspective.

The outcome of this year’s CSW will be a political declaration which is already being negotiated by Member States. The draft as of 20th January is available here.

Several ASTRA members will attend the session. Polish ASTRA member, the Federation for Women and Family Planninf prepared written statement for 59th CSW – it is available online.

On Sunday March 8th in commemoration of the 20-year anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action all are invited to join the march for gender equality on International Women’s Day – more details and route here.

List of NGO parallel events is available here.

More information: UN Women

Feb 26 2015

Three Hungarian NGOs are seeking answers from the state health authority after it decided against granting over-the-counter access to a morning-after pill out of concern for women's health. The Hungarian Women's Lobby, PATENT Association, ASTRA member, and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union have sent an open letter to the State Secretariat for Healthcare, questioning its determination that making the ellaOne morning-after pill available without a prescription would harm women. Although the European Medicines Agency and the European Commission have voiced their support for making the ellaOne pill available without prescription, the recent announcement by the Hungarian Ministry of Human Resources makes clear that the pill will remain a prescription-only medicine due to concerns related to "patient safety."

EllaOne is a morning-after pill that may be effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies for up to 120 hours (5 days) after intercourse. It is important to point out, however, that best results occur when it is taken within the first 24 hours. Understandably, effectiveness is best ensured by making the pill readily available. The patient safety hazard referenced in the ministerial communiqué was refuted in the course of the European licensing procedure as a necessary step for approval. The pill was licensed by the EU in 2009 and can be safely used without a prescription, with its benefits and risks having been widely publicized since it came to market. It is worth considering how to best ensure women's health, safety and the promotion of their potential future pregnancy: by an emergency pill taken in a timely manner, or, in its absence or as a consequence of its delayed effect, by the artificial termination of an unwanted pregnancy?

Finally, the NGOs remind the government of a 2013 recommendation by the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women that Hungary "ensure appropriate accessibility to family planning services and affordable contraceptive methods, including emergency contraceptive products, for all women [...] and eliminate the prescription-only accessibility of emergency contraceptives."

The three organizations condemn the decision of the Hungarian government. The pill can be accessed without a prescription in 22 of 28 EU member states. Following the recommendation of the Commission, even Poland, which has very strict abortion laws, announced that it would remove the need for prescription. It seems Hungary is again swimming against the current, and putting the safety and health of Hungarian women at risk.


Feb 25 2015

The Federation for Women and Family Planning submitted its written statement for the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women which will take place in New York on March 9-20. Access the statement HERE.

Feb 25 2015

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence was signed by Poland in December 2012. Since then there have been attempts to adopt an Act to ratify the Convention. For 2 years it could not have been done in the parliament due to the strong opposition movement. Recently after a long time the Convention first left the joint parliamentary committees that for a long time were blocking the approval for it to be read at the general debate. On February 5th the MPs from the committees decided that it should be further proceeded in the plenary. On the 6th of February the parliament decided that all the amendments proposed at the stage of committees’ work have to be rejected and decided to adopt the Act on ratification in the first reading. Still in requires the signature by the President who, to a huge disappointment continues having doubts about its accordance with the Constitution. That might result in sending the Act to the Constitutional Court which would delay the ratification by at least several months.

Source: Federation for Women and Family Planning

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