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

Dec 12 2016

Željka Markić, the president of the "In the name of the family" NGO wrote a letter to the Prime Minister Plenković and the UN in which she criticizes the UN's Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Dainius Pūras, saying that his way of work during his time in Croatia is nothing but unprofessional and tendentious. 

"Among other things, we consider his work was done outside of his function, he did not respect the institutions of the Republic of Croatia, and that he wanted to impose certain forms of values that are not in harmony with democratically expressed will of the citizens of the Republic of Croatia" says the commentary of the NGO.

Dec 09 2016

By Helena Szczodry, Eurongos

The messages of solidarity sent to women in Ireland and South America throughout the “Black Protest” clearly indicated that this mass mobilisation against the proposed abortion ban in Poland is not only a Polish matter. If we are truly worried about the ongoing political developments and how will they shape the future of Europe, we must ensure that the gender perspective is taken into account in the current debate. What are the lessons learned from Central and Eastern Europe with regards to women’s rights and what European values are at stake?

Anyone who thinks that the rise of opposition to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Central and Eastern Europe is a recent development is sadly mistaken. Since 1989, the status of SRHR and women’s rights in the region has been in permanent crisis. It was one of the most unexpected results of the Soviet bloc’s transition from communism to democracy, yet it was not prominent enough.

Of course, Central and Eastern Europe is not a monolith, and the socio-economic and political situations at national level varies - not to mention the division between non-EU and EU countries or the ongoing war in Ukraine, which turned almost 2 million people into refugees. But it is women that have been among the groups most affected by the post-communist transformation in the region.

Dec 08 2016

Croatia has a good chance to become an inclusive society, but should avoid a selective approach which discriminates against certain groups and favours others, said on Tuesday UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health Dainius Puras, reports on December 6, 2016.

“Croatia has made efforts to set up a system for respecting the right to health”, said Puras at the end of his first official visit to Croatia, urging the Croatian government to continue to go forward without implementing regressive measures. “The existing deficiencies must be removed, but it seems that the political will is there.” During his nine-day visit, he noted that, despite the problems stemming from the war, transition and the financial crisis, Croatia has strengthen its health policies and services in order to achieve a sustainable health system.

For the rights to sexual and reproductive health, Puras expressed his concern about regressive measures that impede access to safe abortion and contraception, undermine comprehensive sex education appropriate to age, and favour the rights of the family at the expense of women’s rights and children’s rights. “The right to sexual and reproductive health is a human right and therefore regressive measures that hinder its realization are human rights violations according to international regulations”, said Puras. “I appeal to all stakeholders in Croatia to oppose any attack on universal principles of human rights”, he said. “When applied in a systematic way, human rights provide a solid foundation for the successful realization of the right to health and other rights of all people in Croatia”, he added.

“Croatia has come a long way after the Homeland War and now as a member of the European Union and a new member of the UN Human Rights Council cannot afford to regress or stagnate in terms of promoting and protecting human rights for all”, he said. “Human rights are not only an issue of the commitment of the state, but also something which is important to the full realization of the rights and welfare of all people in Croatia as human beings”, concluded Puras.

Puras visited Croatia at the invitation of the government. He met with senior government officials, members of Parliament, representatives of the Constitutional Court, international organizations and civil society organizations, among them CESI – ASTRA member from Zagreb.

The UN Special Rapporteur will present a full report on his visit to Croatia at the next session of the UN Human Rights Council in June 2017.

Source: Total Croatia News

Dec 01 2016

ASTRA together with ASTRA Youth, as part of coalition of civil society organizations working on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights – You Act, CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality and the European Consortium for Emergency Contraception, sent a letter to the representatives of the European Commission, to voice our concern on the current developments in Poland with regards to women and girls’ reproductive health and rights.

The Polish Minister of Health recently announced the plan to restrict access to emergency contraception which became freely available in pharmacies as a result of the C(2015)51 ruling from the European Commission last year. This step greatly contributed to the advancement of women’s and girls’ reproductive health and rights in Poland and across the European Union. The planned restrictions would greatly impede the lives of women and girls and contribute to the sales of this product from unsafe sources and also cause a rise in the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

ASTRA Network, ASTRA Youth, CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, European Consortium on Emergency Contraception and YouAct call on the European Commission to encourage the EU Member States to follow the recommendations of the European Medicines Agency in regards to emergency contraception  in order to secure women's and girls’ reproductive rights and improve access to reproductive health services and supplies.

The joint statement is available HERE.

Nov 29 2016

Statement of un the UNHR Office of the High Commissioner for International Women Human Rights Defenders Day – 29 November 2016

Women who step up to defend human rights are facing worsening obstacles amid a global trend of fundamentalism and populism, a group of United Nations rights experts has warned.

In a statement to mark International Women Human Rights Defenders Day on 29 November, the experts said women working for rights and equality faced unique and growing challenges driven by deep-rooted discrimination.  Some were being killed for their courageous stand; others faced violence, harassment, social stigma and sometimes imprisonment.


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