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Young People’s Sexual and Reproductive Health: Towards Improved Standards for Sexual Education in Europe

Thursday 12th January 2017, 10:00am — 4:30pm
Thon Hotel Brussels City Centre

Key Speakers: Ana Rizescu, You Act & Rachel Andras, INDERA

According to the European Commission, sexual health can be related to a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being related to sexuality and is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. As a sensitive area, it involves multiple levels of educational, ethical, medical, social and cultural customs, which vary considerably across Europe.

Established in 2011, the European Regional World Health Organization's strategy on sexual and reproductive health achieved progress in health national policies, particularly in the development of preventive measures for unsafe abortions and with the introduction of sexual and reproductive health in the national agendas. However, several challenges still remain to be tackled: a recent report on adolescent health and well-being, from the Lancet Commission Group (May 2016), revealed that sexual health and sexually transmitted infections remain a significant public health problem in Europe, with two-thirds of young people growing up in countries where preventable and treatable health problems like unsafe sex, STIs, unwanted pregnancies, injury, violence and depression are an ongoing threat to their development and well-being.

The ongoing regional consultation on the development of the European action plan for sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) 2017-2021 stresses the importance of investing in a comprehensive and appropriate sexuality education for children available to all age groups. It also stresses the need of including children and adolescents as well as their parents, through an inclusive European policy strategy that embraces the importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), especially for the vulnerable groups such as LGTB and refugees. The action plan also highlighted the key role of health professionals in achieving an inclusive, high quality sexual health prevention system.

This timely symposium provides an opportunity to discuss different strategies aimed at improving young people’s access to information, contraception and advice services. This symposium will also examine the importance of addressing the challenges related to young adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health through a multilevel approach that encompasses developing youth-friendly health services, parental capability, health-promoting schools as well as empowering young people to participate in the decisions that affect their lives. 

More information and programme HERE.

Youth in Power: Developing a Youth Strategy for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for Europe and Central Asia

New youth-led initiative “Youth in Power: Developing a Youth Strategy for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for Europe and Central Asia” is led by YouAct, in partnership with ASTRA Youth, Y-PEER and YSAFE, with support of Council of Europe European Youth Foundation, UNFPA EECARO and IPPF EN.

The initiative’s overall aim is to develop an up-to-date strategy based on the input, experience, needs and ideas of young people, which will serve as an advocacy and awareness raising tool on SRHR of young people from Council of Europe and Central Asia countries on the national, regional and international level.

As a first step the organizations are gathering inputs via an online survey that collects youth views on the current gaps and challenges regarding the realization of SRHR and their feedback on recommendations, measures and actions that need to be taken by youth-led networks and policy and decision-makers.

The survey is open to young people aged 15-30 years old from Council of Europe and Central Asia countries and is available HERE.

European youth advocates urge MEPs to do more to combat anti-abortion legislation throughout Europe

Brussels, 11th October 2016 // European Youth advocates welcome the decision by the Polish parliament last week to dismiss the “Stop Abortion” bill , but stress that the European Parliament needs to do more to monitor legislative developments and increasing restrictions to sexual and reproductive rights and services across Europe.

Read more...

Restrictions in the law on abortion in Armenia

Just this month the Armenian Government introduced several changes in the law on abortion without any consultations with civil society and other medical or women’s groups. Abortion remains accessible until the 12th week yet a separate provision is added to the Article 10 of the Law on Reproductive Health and Rights, which bans sex-selective abortion from 12th to 22nd week of pregnancy. A mandatory 3 day waiting period had been added in the same Article. During this time a gynecologists will provide the woman with information on abortion.

The approach of the Armenian Ministry of Health is quite worrying as one of its representatives confidently stated that the Ministry aims to prevent women from performng abortions with the use of this new 3 day waiting period.  At the same time the Ministry claims that these new legal changes will not question the right and access to legal abortion.

The Women’s Resource Center published a statement on the issue, it is available here.

Changes in the law accepted on 29.06.2016, in Armenian, can be found under this link.

Source: Women’s Rights CenterWomen’s Resource CenterSociety Without Violence

Statement from UN rights experts on International Safe Abortion Day

Speaking ahead of the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, a group of United Nations human rights experts* called on States across the world to repeal restrictive abortion laws and policies, and all punitive measures and discriminatory barriers to access safe reproductive health services.

The experts also expressed their support for the call of several non-governmental organisations to make 28 September an official UN day for safe abortion worldwide, to urge Governments to decriminalise abortion and provide reproductive health services in a legal, safe and affordable manner.

See more HERE

Meeting-discussion devoted to the Global Day of Action for Safe and Legal Abortion

Women's Rights Center organized meeting-discussion devoted to the Global Day of Action for Safe and Legal Abortion. Women victims of domestic violence, Women’s Rights Center’s staff and volunteers participated in the meeting. The core of the meeting was the dissemination of more information on women’s reproductive health and rights.

The origin of the international day of action for safe and legal abortion, the internationally organized actions devoted to this day and safe abortion methods were introduced to the participants.

Women mentioned the lack of their awareness and knowledge on the issue of reproductive and sexual health and rights. They highlighted it as a base of healthy family. Women were encouraged to take care of their reproductive health and to apply for doctor’s consultation as well as to choose safe abortion method in case of terminating unwanted pregnancy.

Source: WRC

International Day International Day of Action for the Decriminalization of Abortion

On September 28th, on the International Day for Decriminalization of Abortion, SWV organized a public film viewing, in its office in Yerevan, of the movie “Citizen Ruth”, which tells the story of pregnant woman who unexpectedly attracts attention from those involved in the debate about the morality and legality of abortion. The film attacks the abortion debate as in itself being an unnecessary infringement on the bodily integrity of women.

After the screening of the movie, the attendants held a discussion about the status of abortion in Armenia, the problem of sex-selective abortion and how to tackle it without infringing the rights of women, and the abortion debate in general.

Source: SWV

Capacity Building Training on Anti-discrimination and SOGI issues

Society Without Violence NGO (SWV), within the context of “Solidarity Network for LGBTI in Armenia and Georgia” project, conducted a successful 3 day capacity building training for CSOs to improve their knowledge about sexuality, SOGI, and anti-discrimination, The theme of Sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) was also thoroughly discussed; how LGBTI people face discrimination while trying to access health services for SRHR, how LGBTI people living with HIV face double discrimination, etc., and equip them with new skills for effective advocacy, meet like-minded colleagues, build networks and acquire skills on including LGBTI issues in the organization’s agenda. The training took place on September 22-24, with a small group of 7 participants from CSOs from different regions. A second similar training will take place in October.

The end of training survey and the discussion that followed proved the vast improvement in the knowledge of the participants about the issues and problems faced by LGBTI people. There was also a positive change in the attitudes of the participants towards sexuality and LGBTI people.

Source: SWV

Poland to consider a total ban of abortion

Two bills on abortion, both submitted through citizen's petitions, were debated in the Sejm, the Polish parliament, yesterday afternoon and evening. Today, a vote was taken on both of them. The first, entitled the "Stop Abortion" bill, introduced a total ban on all abortions without exceptions and would criminalise women who have an abortion with sentences of up to five years. with no exception. Additionally it proposes criminalization of women who committed abortion illegally up to five years. The bill would stop antenatal screening and sexuality education. It equates women’s right to health with the rights of embryos. Polish women will be forced to give birth even if they are victims of rape, have a serious fetal abnormality and even when their health and lives are at risk. Today, it was passed at first reading and was sent for further consideration to a parliamentary commission, following support from 267 MPs. 154 MPs voted against and 11 abstained.

The second bill, entitled "Save the Women" proposed to liberalise the current, already highly restrictive, law on abortion. It would permit abortion until the 12th week of pregnancy. Additionally, it called for sexuality education, broad access to modern contraception reimbursed by the state, antenatal screening and other elements of reproductive health care. It was defeated by a majority vote on the first reading by 230 MPs, while 173 MPs voted to send the bill to a commission, and 15 abstained.

Last week there was a major national demonstration against the Stop Abortion bill, in which thousands participated. For further background, read this.

In the days leading up to the vote, on social media people in Poland sent photos of themselves dressed in black, as a statement of protest. See a sample of photos here.

Krystyna Kacpura, Executive Director, Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning, said today: "The discussion in Parliament regarding these bills was outrageous. Certain members of Parliament claimed that Poland will be the beginning of a new pro-life civilization. They expect that other countries will follow. Women’s rights have been completely rejected and held in contempt by them."

Additionally, the Sejm also sent to further proceedings draft legislation practically eliminating in vitro procedure.

The text was edited with the help of International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

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

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