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

The United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Ms. Karima Bennoune, is inviting all relevant stakeholders to contribute to a consultation on the impact of fundamentalism and extremism on the cultural rights of women.

In her last report to the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights presented an overview of the impact of diverse forms of fundamentalism and extremism on the enjoyment of cultural rights (A/HRC/34/56). She also indicated her intention to study this issue further for her upcoming report to the General Assembly. This follow up report will focus on the impact of fundamentalism and extremism, as defined in A/HRC/34/56, on the cultural rights of women.

In order to assess the impact of fundamentalism and extremism on women’s enjoyment of cultural rights and challenges related to the rights of women to access, take part in and contribute to cultural life, and to contribute to and enjoy the arts and science, the Special Rapporteur has prepared a questionnaire and invited all States, United Nations agencies, academics and civil society organizations to send their contributions. She strongly encourages those making contributions to read her report A/HRC/34/56, as well as the report of the first mandate holder on the cultural rights of women (A/67/287). Where necessary, contributors should carefully explain the cultural rights impact of any issues they report on.

Details can be found in the link HERE, deadline for submissions is May 19th. 

UN Member States gathered at the 50th session of the Commission on Population and Development were not able to reach a consensus on the draft resolution – to our great disappointment there is no agreed outcome document this year, only a Chair’s summary.

The International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD PoA) remains the most comprehensive negotiated action document on many aspects of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and reproductive rights (RR). At its 20-year review, all governments agreed that the agenda should be continued until it is fully achieved, yet many member states were again disputing over references to SRH and RR.

Views statements on the issue by ASTRA’s partners: IWHC and ARROW.

Permanent Representative of Romania to the UN, ambassador Ion Jinga, was elected president of the 51st session of CPD in 2018. The 51st session will focus on „Sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration”.

Very strong and bold statement by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights - The Shrinking Space for Human Rights Organisations - with several references to countries of Central and Eastern Europe - can be accessed online HERE.

New publication from the European Consortium for Emergency Contraception examines the accessibility of emergency contraception in the CEE region. This factsheet summarizes the main findings of this survey as of October 2015, and includes data from 15 countries: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Access the publication here

During the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva outcomes of the 26th session of the Universal Periodic Review were adopted with Lithuania being one of the countries under review.

The Sexual Rights Initiative, with cooperation from ASTRA Network and Family Planning and Sexual Health Association from Vinus, Lithuaniua, delivered the Lithuanian NGO statement (available here).

During the review Lithuania accepted 153 recommendations on human rights implementation, including Finland's recommendation (100.141): to take actions to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights according to previous recommendations and to formulate a national strategy on sexual and reproductive health and rights, and integrate sexual and reproductive health into the next National Health Programme for 2026-2036.

Family Planning and Sexual Health Association and nongovernmental women's organizations network “ReGina” are pleased to note that Lithuanian Government has committed to fulfill   this recommendation and to ensure the improvement in sexual reproductive health and rights (source: Family Planning and Sexual Health Association).

The 50th session of UN Commission on Population and Development will take place in UN HQ in New York from April 3rd to April 7th. The theme of this year's CPD is  "Changing population age structures and sustainable development".

ASTRA will be represented by its ASTRA Youth advocates - Marta Paczkowska, ASTRA Youth Coordinator and Julita Valancauskyte from out Lithuanian member, Family Planning and Sexual Health Association.

For more information about the 50th CPD please click HERE.

The Central European University in Budapest is under great threat! The CEU has provided a world-class graduate education to thousands of students – in full conformity with Hungarian law – for over two decades. The home to free thinkers, human rights advocates and scholars faces a serious situations due a new proposed legislation on higher education. The proposed changes extend a battle between Mr George Soros (who funds the University) and prime minister Viktor Orban, who has cast the Budapest-born billionaire as an ideological enemy.

The legislation which has been proposed to the Hungarian Parliament would make it impossible for CEU to continue its present operations in Budapest.

CEU’s official response is here.

Petition on Change directed at the Hungarian National Assembly is available for signing here.

Link to article in Financial Times

The Young Feminist Caucus gathered at the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women just released its statement - read it HERE.

Feminist persistence pays off at UN Commission Status of Women, but challenges loom large in the changing world of work

Feminist activists have seen their hard work pay off as the UN 61st Commission on the Status of Women adopted a set of Agreed Conclusions that made significant commitments to advance women’s rights and economic empowerment in the changing world of work.

In response to feminists’ demands for gender-just strategies to confront the multiple impacts of climate change and related ecological damage, the Commission recognized the imperative of moving towards a just transition of the workforce toward low-carbon economies that deliver for women and the planet. “Now is the time for the strongest possible action toward a climate just planet, and this requires actions like a global moratorium on coal and keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, said Noelene Nabulivou of Diverse Voices and Action for Equality, Fiji. “This must be carried forward through a gender just and equitable and safe transition toward a low-carbon economy.” The Commission also called for gender-responsive strategies to increase women’s resilience to the economic impacts of climate change.  

Recognizing that women continue to shoulder the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work, the Commission established a blueprint for governments to reduce and redistribute this work through public services, labour and social protections, and affordable child and other care services. The Commission also urged governments to measure the value of unpaid care and domestic work through time use surveys, which will help measure progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Commission also recognized the role of trade unions, collective bargaining and social dialogue in addressing economic inequalities and the importance of strong, global labour standards that protect women’s rights in the world of work.


728 representatives of civil society have raised the issues of NGO access to the negotiations of 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women as their access to the UNCSW has been subject to unprecedented attacks this year. Read the entire statement, also signed by ASTRA, here.

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