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Astra youth

Annual meeting of HERA Youth 2016

In the end of March HERA Youth, the volunteer sector of HERA had their annual meeting, where they have revised the official documents of the youth group and developed a new action plan for 2016.

HERA Youth has also decided to restructure from 3 sectors to 2 sectors. During the meeting, HERA Youth has also formed two groups for application on the Vision 2020 fund and activities which will be conducted on 18 May 2016 and this year’s topic is comprehensive sexual education. The process for application was closed on 3th of April and it awaits decision on which group of HERA Youth is going to implement their project on the Vision 2020 fund. The group currently consists of 70 volunteers. HERA Youth is one of the most important sectors in HERA and the moving young force.

Source: HERA

Training of CSE peer educators in Macedonia

In February – March a big process of accreditation was implemented for peer educators in the field of Comprehensive sexual education by HERA Macedonia. A call was launched for interested young people and it was promoted on the social media. 21 people have applied and 17 were accepted. They have passed 2 days theoretical and interactive training in Skopje for all 7 components of the CSE. After this, they had 2 weeks of time for studying and consultation with the more experienced educators, the coordinator of the youth program and the program director of HERA. Afterwards, the examination process was organized for 3 days and the second part of this training has also covered workshops on communication and risk assessment. 14 new educators have been accredited after this process and already 2 of them are implementing the workshops in high schools in Skopje, where HERA has the pilot program for CSE peer education.

Source: HERA

Launch of the report analysis for the optional school subject Health Education - Sexuality Education component

Early April, Society for Reproductive and Sexual Education (SECS) member  of Astra Youth, in partnership with the Coalition for Gender Equality and Romania  and the Youth Council in Romania, organized the round table  where the outcomes of the analysis of the optional Health Education subject were discussed.

Besides the presentation of the report, diverse institution’s representatives discussed their views: the Presidential Administration, the Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research, Romania Youth Council, Youth and Sports Ministry, as well as representatives of World Health Organization and NGOs.

Teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and gender-based violence are current realities in the Romanian society. International and national legislation recognizes the need for sexuality education in schools. But the report points out that sexuality education module included in the optional subject Education for Health isn’t a comprehensive sexuality education program. Shortcomings are evident in the subject’s content, teachers’ training, as well as monitoring and evaluation of the subject. Very few students participated in health education classes (6% in 2014-2015, according to the Ministry of Education), and even smaller number had access to sexuality education.

Other survey findings underline that combating gender violence isn’t included in the classes’ objectives and children don't learn prevention of sexual abuse and violence. During the classes extended family and traditional gender roles are described on the basis of gender stereotypes. Moreover, the information on disclosing HIV status or impact of stigmatization of HIV positive persons is not included in the content of lessons.

Teachers don’t recognize the diversity of individuals, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, norms and values of society. Preparation to teach sexuality education isn’t a part of the training of all teachers and the quality of teaching sexuality education isn’t taken into account.

The report is available in Romanian on SECS’s website here.

Source: Coalitiei pentru Egalitate de Gen

 

The ODZYSKAĆ WYBÓR – REGAINING THE CHOICE demonstration in Warsaw

Warsaw, April 9th 2016, Saturday, 02:00 p.m. 

Venue: the Polish Parliament (Sejm) building

We take to the streets because we refuse to accept anyone else but ourselves making decisions concerning our bodies and our lives.

We have been told for far too long that the current legislative solution is a “compromise”.

Let us show that we refuse to accept a barbaric law making us hostage to our own pregnancies.

The current anti-abortion law did not serve to reduce the number of abortions performed in Poland. It is estimated that against 1993, an unchanged number of terminations is performed in the abortion underworld – some say that the number of undocumented abortions has doubled. Polish women undergo approximately 200,000 illegal terminations per year. The so-called abortion tourism flourishes – 15% of all terminations are performed abroad. In the United Kingdom, for example, the share of Polish women among foreigners terminating pregnancies has reached 80%.

Although according to Polish law, Polish women can undergo legal termination in three cases, the reality is hugely difficult if not impossible, largely due to the conformism of the medical community, frequent abuse of the “clause of conscience”, persecution of women intending to terminate, and poor legislative knowledge in the society.

The restrictive anti-abortion law did not bring any reduction in the number of terminations; all it did was ensure that abortions are performed in dangerous and humiliating conditions, in an atmosphere of anxiety, shame, and contempt.

Pregnancy termination is no longer a simple medical procedure. It became a political matter, a bargaining chip in politics.

Prior to system transformation, Polish women could legally terminate pregnancies in safe conditions with no threat to health or life. They could make independent decisions concerning their own bodies, including the very important decision as to whether they wish to become mothers or not. In 1993, this right was taken away from them, the amended law referred to as a “compromise”. The thriving abortion underworld and abortion tourism both prove that such “abortion compromise” is complete rubbish. Women continue terminating pregnancies – albeit under great anxiety and intimidation, their health and life threatened. Even if entitled to legal abortion, they have to undergo a series of humiliating procedures, and remain hanging on someone else’s decision. Yet here we are, facing times when women can be deprived of their rights – such as they are – altogether. Over the upcoming months, politicians of both genders and priests will act in our stead, voting on a cruel and barbaric draft act filed with our Parliament by fanatics ready to sacrifice female freedom and life in the name of ideology.

ODZYSKAĆ WYBÓR (REGAINING THE CHOICE) is a coalition of feminist and other non-governmental organisations, informal groups and individuals, struggling to regain the abortion choice right we were deprived of 23 years ago.

NOTE: The demonstration is organised by grassroot communities, non-affiliated with any political parties or commercial entities.

REGAINING THE CHOICE demonstrations will also take place in other cities in Poland and in many locations around the world, for a full list of events clickHERE.

Media contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Debates on Sexuality Education vs March for Life in Romania

The month of March in Romania was devoted to both heated debates on the introduction of sexuality education in schools as well as the annual march for life organized by Students for Life. The pro-choice activists did not counteract the march, but rather focused on constructive debates organized and hosted by the ministries of education and health.

The theme of this year’s March for Life was “For life, for woman, for the family”, inspired from the Washington march and it was organized in 110 cities across the country, plus 30 cities in the Republic of Moldova. The march in Bucharest was attended by 2,700 people, while all the activities along the ‘month for life’ were allegedly attended by 70,000 people. The main messages rehashed by the media were: “22 million abortions in 60 years” (in reference to the total population a few years ago) and “Romania ranks first in the EU in the number of abortions”. In conclusion, this type of march and related activities are organized by young people, they choose positive messages and gather larger numbers of people, including artists as ambassadors.

Moreover, they follow and report on pro-choice activists’ activities, such as ASTRA member Daniela Draghici: prior to the march, the ministries of education and health organized public debates on the introduction of sexuality education in the optional subject “health education” as part of the school curriculum. ASTRA delegate pointed out that the position promoted by the Gender Coalition she represented coincided with that supported by the ministries of education, health, labor, youth and raised questions referring to the measures the ministry was going to take when parents’ associations and the church were opposing the health education classes and kept promoting abstinence and showing high school students films such as “The Silent Scream” during the religion classes that are, unfortunately, part of the curriculum. At the same time, she also offered the assistance of specialized NGOs members of the Gender Coalition, the only force counteracting the anti-choice in Romania. The Students for Life representative present at the debate posted the entire address of the ASTRA member, accompanied by a photo taken from the Facebook account without permission, where Daniela Draghici was impersonating the Holy See at a EuroNGOs conference. 

Overall, the Ministry of education debate was a positive one that took note of participants’ suggestions, with the promise to be followed by other such targeted meetings. The debates at the Ministry of Health, on the other hand, were marked by anti-choice presence that attempted to destabilize the purpose of the meetings. Nevertheless, the position held by the ministry of health is firm and supportive of making “health education” a compulsory subject in schools, but it will not be possible for a couple of years because of lack of trained personnel. Again, the ASTRA member representing the Gender Coalition stressed the paramount importance of maintaining sexuality education in the health education optional subject, sought a commitment from the ministry representatives, and assured them of the full support and expertise of the specialized NGOs.

Written by Daniela Draghici, member of the Society for Feminist Analyses – AnA, part of the Romanian Gender Coalition

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