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New factsheet on abortion in Europe

Recent developments in Europe, in particular in Poland, have put the reproductive rights of women and girls under severe pressure. Together with partners - ASTRA Youth, You Act and CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, we have developed this factsheet that aims to raise awareness about women’s and girl’s rights to safe and legal abortion and to encourage the reader to engage in ongoing discussions about reproductive rights.

Click here to access the factsheet

Abortion once again subject to political debate in Poland

On September 22nd the Polish Parliament will vote on 2 draft bills regarding abortion.

The “Stop Abortion” bill proposes to ban abortion in all cases, aiming to punish women and medical personnel for illegal procedures. Prepared by groups which deny women their basic right to health and wellbeing, this bill will have severe consequences, if put into force.

The „Save the Women” initiative proposes to change the law on abortion in Poland, which is one of the most restrictive in Europe for the past 25 years, by introducing not only access to safe and legal abortion until the 12th week of pregnancy but also a complete package of sexual and reproductive health services, such as comprehensive sexuality education.

On Sunday, September 18th people gathered under the slogan “Save women, not a step further” in front of the Polish Sejm in Warsaw. Smaller protests in other cities in Poland. The changes proposed by anti-choice groups would risk the lives of women and force girls as young as 11 who had been raped or subjected to incest either to give birth or face going to jail.

Krystyna Kacpura, director of the Federation of Women and Family Planning, said many Polish women were already in effect denied access to legal abortions despite a 1993 law that was supposed to allow terminations in cases of rape or incest, where the foetus is severely damaged or ill, or where the mother’s life is at risk.

See the media releases in English here:

Amnesty InternationalThe Guardianarticle by ED of the Federation for Women and Family PlanningNewsDeeply

See photos from Warsaw protest here.

ASTRA Youth at 13th AWID International Forum

ASTRA Youth attended 13th AWID International Forum, organized under the theme Feminist Futures: Building Collective Power for Rights and Justice.

ASTRA Youth representatives from Poland and Croatia actively participated in the pre-conference Young Feminist Activism Day. Also, ASTRA Youth held the panel discussion Healthy signposts on bumpy roads to safe futures: youth SRHR realities in Central and Eastern Europe, organized in cooperation with Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, CESI (Center for education, counseling, and research) Croatia, and Society Without Violence, Armenia.

ASTRA Youth coordinator provided a brief introduction to the panel, discussing the general sexual and reproductive health and rights’ situation in Central and Eastern Europe. She highlighted, that the region is unrecognized at the global arena and mistakenly perceived as having the same realities as Western Europe. Then, the panelists from Croatia, Armenia and Russia presented background SRHR situation in their specific contexts, providing local stories related to lack of realization of young people’s rights. Activists touched upon burning SRHR issues, such as lack of access to SRH services in Croatia; sex-selective abortions and lack of CSE in Armenia; and HIV epidemics and violence against LGBTQ persons in Russia. They also addressed the emergence of anti-SRHR initiatives and their influence on laws and policies. Challenges faced by civil society and examples of successful campaigns were also presented. After the panel, the audience had an opportunity to reflect on the issues discussed by panelists and provide their remarks on youth SRHR.

 

13th AWID International Forum: ASTRA Youth panel

13th AWID International Forum is taking place this week, from 8th to 11th September 2016 in Costa do Sauipe - Bahia, Brazil. The theme of the Forum is Feminist Futures: Building Collective Power for Rights and Justice.

The 13th AWID International Forum will bring together approximately 1700 activists, allies and movements from over 140 countries across all regions of the world. There will be over 200 speakers sharing the experiences, creative disruptions, and resistance of their movements in a variety of plenaries, cross-movement, umbrella and participant led sessions, and different arts and culture activities across the program.

ASTRA Youth representatives will attend the 13th AWID International Forum and provide their contributions at Young Feminist Activism Day.

ASTRA Youth will also hold the panel session Healthy signposts on bumpy roads to safe futures: youth SRHR realities in Central and Eastern Europe, organized in cooperation with Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, CESI (Center for education, counseling and research) Croatia, and Society Without Violence, Armenia.

Date&place: 9th September, 16:30-18:00 at Gran Bahia 3.

The session will address current challenges faced by young people, when exercising their sexual and reproductive rights in Central and Eastern Europe. These realities will be discussed, while underscoring power of youth NGOs, which serve as healthy signposts, providing adolescents with comprehensive information on their health.

The session will acquaint the audience with current SRHR realities of young people in Central and Eastern Europe and challenges they face when exercising their rights. Youth development is envisioned as a road which safety depends on the realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights. For young people in the region this road is bumpy because of barriers they meet in the access to sexual and reproductive health services and sexuality education; therefore, their safety, health and freedom to make autonomous, responsible decisions are threatened. These challenges will be presented by youth SRHR activists from Armenia, Croatia and Russia. They will address most burning issues on youth SRHR in their local context: lack of comprehensive sexuality education and gender stereotypes in Armenia; hampered access to sexual and reproductive health services in Croatia and HIV epidemics in Russia, which rates remain one of the highest in the region.

These accounts will be discussed in a broader context of political, economic and social crises, in which youth advocates act for realization of SRHR and gender equality. Also, the increase of anti-choice movements across the region will be addressed, as they hamper implementation of progressive laws and strengthen patriarchal, homophobic approaches among the society through spreading misinformation on sexuality and claiming sexuality education to hypersexualize adolescents. Anti-SRHR initiatives also gain more power as entering political realm by submitting law proposals aiming to limit youth access to SRH services, including access to safe abortion and contraceptives; ban implementation of CSE curricula at schools and limit rights of LGBTQI citizens.

Challenging political situation and anti-choice movements’ influence demand new strategies from youth SRHR advocates. This session will underscore the need to embrace proactive, not only reactive approach to emerging threats and addressing youth SRHR as integrated in the universal health coverage and human rights framework. During the session youth advocates will provide examples of good practices they use when counteracting opposition and successful advocacy activities undertaken to enable young people to make autonomous choices regarding their sexual and reproductive health. They will also address ways in which NGOs’ collective power is built: by strengthening youth movement, crossing hurdles of anti-choice approaches and shaping positive attitudes to youth sexuality in their local communities.

We hope to raise awareness of the audience – SRHR activists, stakeholders, on the SRHR of young people in Central and Eastern Europe, a region which specificity remains unrecognized at the global arena. We also aim to exchange good practices and strategies which are embraced by youth organizations to manage multiple challenges on recognition and implementation of laws related to youth sexual and reproductive health and rights. 

Join us!

 

 

 

New sexual education program was prepared, during last meeting youth showed their position

The working group of 29 people from very different organisations accepted the final version of new Sexual Education program on 10th of August that was approved by Ministry of Education and Science.

The project includes three main subjects: education of health (physical activity, healthy nutrition, psychological health, etc.), education of sexuality (sexual identity, sexual orientation, tolerance, the prevention of risk sexual behavior, contraception, etc.)  and preparation for family (methods of planning, marriage, gender equality, pregnancy, needs of infant, etc.). Still there are some points that should be implemented but wasn’t approved.

The program will be implemented in schools on 2017.

Before the last meeting, young people gathered together near Ministry of Education and Science to show their needs: by holding electrical bulbs in their hands they were inviting working group members to stand for science based sexual education, not stereotypes or religious dogmas. The need of science based sexual education that will fulfil basic human rights were written on posters and discussed with journalists after the picket.

Event galleries:

http://manoteises.lt/straipsnis/svietimo-ministerija-raginama-vadovautis-mokslu/

http://www.15min.lt/naujiena/aktualu/lietuva/simona-gaidyte-lytiskumo-ugdymo-programa-neatliepia-socialiniu-realiju-lietuvoje-56-664567#galerija/96653/2313127

FPSHA support for politicians who endorse SRHR as basic human needs

The election of Lithuania Republic politicians will be held on this autumn. As politicians, who really support SRHR and agree that it is one of important need to work on, are really very necessary, FPSHA organized interview about sexual education and perspectives of it in Lithuania. The interviews were taken from those politicians, who strongly stand for SRHR, FPSHA declared their support for these politicians.

The video of interviews will be shared with Lithuanian people community on autumn. Gallery of event can be checked here:

https://www.facebook.com/%C5%A0eimos-planavimo-ir-seksualin%C4%97s-sveikatos-asociacija-366903170533/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10157078466425534

Training “How to prepare to talk about THAT with children’s” by FPSHA

The training for society (parents, teachers, other specialists) on how to prepare yourself to talk with child about sexual education at home were held on 20-21 of July by FPSHA. During the training participants were introduce with “ASK: Parents as Key Facilitators in sex-education” prepared and translated toolkit, the topics on why/when/how/what to talk and why it is important for children were included. During the practical session participants were instructed on how to defeat their fears, emotions, psychologically prepare themselves to start conversation, how to break down all the “taboo” and refuse all negative and incorrect stereotypes and beliefs.

 

Event gallery here:

https://www.facebook.com/EUASKProject/posts/816535551815545

The project official page here:

https://www.facebook.com/EUASKProject/

LGBT* community The March of equality: "WE ARE PEOPLE, NOT PROPAGANDA!"

On 18th June, 2016 LGBT* community members and their allies participated in the March for Equality on the central avenue in the downtown of Vilnius to celebrate the Baltic Pride 2016, the most important LGBT* (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community event in the Baltic states, organized by the National LGBT* rights organization LGL.

The event began with a moment of silence honoring the victims of the terrorist attack which took place in a LGBT* community space in the United States.

Participants in the march included members of the European Parliament, Lithuanian and international politicians, representatives of international organizations and residents and visitors of the Vilnius city. After the March for Equality participants and friendly spectators were invited to the art factory “Loftas” for the Baltic Pride Park 2016 concert.

The Baltic Pride 2016 festival took place in Vilnius for the third time. This year the festival was used to challenge the discriminatory application of the “anti-gay propaganda”  legislation and to encourage public debate on legal recognition of same-sex relationships in Lithuania. The next Baltic Pride March for Equality will take place in Vilnius in 2019. In 2017Baltic Pride festival will be hosted in the Estonian capital city of Tallinn. 

Source: www.lgl.lt

The video from Baltic Pride 2016 at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8V6atFs0pI&ab_channel=BrolYLT

Sexual and reproductive health of young people in Macedonia

Only 1.6 % of young women aged 15 to 19 claim they use oral contraception, while only 34.8% of young people used a condom during their last sexual intercourse. The rates of teenage pregnancy and abortions in this age group are several times higher than in the EU. It is estimated that in Macedonia there’s an increasing tendency in the number of people infected with sexually transmitted infections among young people, especially chlamydia and HPV. A growing number of young couples faces infertility, often caused by untreated sexually transmitted infections. The situation regarding violence and intolerance among young people is worrying. Access to appropriate information on sexual and reproductive health and sexuality within the existing curricula is insufficient. These are some of the conclusions reached by a working group composed of expert representatives of 23 ministries, health, educational and social institutions and civil society organizations in Macedonia.

Drashko Kostovski, the Program Director at H.E.R.A., claims that the information young people receive is often outdated, irrelevant and often inaccurate. In a recent research only 13% of students said they learned about condoms and barely 2% on oral contraception.

Only 12.8 % of the population uses modern contraception, making Macedonia one of the countries with the lowest use of modern contraception in Europe. Data shows that in 2008, 6.7% of all births were among the women under the age of 19, while the specific fertility rate in the age group 15-19 was 20.1 in 2008. The number of registered live births to mothers aged 15 years is on the rise, as in 2009 it was 33 while in 2008 it was 24.

Source: Nova Makedonija [mkd]

Youth advocates’ involvement at the International AIDS Conference 2016

The International AIDS Conference took place from 18 to 22 July 2016 in Durban, South Africa. It was the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic. The conference provided an opportunity to evaluate recent scientific developments and lessons learnt and collectively chart a course forward.

More than 100 young people from around the world participated in the Pre-Conference event and AIDS Conference and had an opportunity to voice the importance of youth involvement in the HIV prevention movement. Youth advocates developed the AIDS 2016 Youth Outcome Statement, in which they call governments to ensure comprehensive sexuality education in formal and non-formal settings, integrate human rights principles in all laws and policies, as well as to ensure youth involvement in the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The statement can be found here

Source: EECA Youth Voice

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