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Shelter From the Storm: A transformative agenda for women and girls in a crisis-prone world

State of World Population 2015

More than 100 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance - more than at any time since the end of the Second World War. Among those displaced by conflict or uprooted by disaster are an estimated 26 million women and adolescent girls in their childbearing years. The State of World Population 2015 is a call to action to meet their needs and protect their rights.

While remarkable progress has been achieved during the past decade protecting the health and rights of women and adolescent girls in humanitarian settings, the growth in need has outstripped the growth in funding and services. Yet, these services are of critical importance, especially for very young adolescent girls, who are the most vulnerable and least able to confront the many challenges they face, even in stable times.

Every day, 480 women and adolescent girls die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth in emergency situations and in fragile States. And gender-based violence continues to take a brutal toll, shattering lives and prospects for peace and recovery.

When women and girls can obtain sexual and reproductive health services, along with a variety of humanitarian programmes that deliberately tackle inequalities, the benefits of interventions grow exponentially and carry over from the acute phase of a crisis well into the future, as countries and communities rebuild and people reclaim their lives.

Investments in institutions and actions that build girls’ and women’s human capital and agency and in the resilience of communities and nations over the long run are needed so that when a new crisis strikes, disruption and dislocation may be minimized and recovery accelerated.

The surfeit of crisis and upheaval around the world today demands better economic and social development, better humanitarian action, better risk management, better attention to prevention, preparedness and resilience, and better connections among all of these. And running through them is a common thread: gender and all other forms of equality, achieved in part through full realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights, which will lead to far less vulnerability and much greater resilience for individuals and societies as a whole.

The distinction between humanitarian response and development today is a false one. Humanitarian action can lay the foundations for long-term development. Development that benefits all, enabling everyone to enjoy their rights, including reproductive rights, can help individuals, institutions and communities withstand crisis. It can also help accelerate recovery.

Related links:

SWOP 2015 launch page

Regional overview: Addressing the Needs of Women and Girls in Humanitarian Emergencies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Regional feature story: When time won't wait: Meeting basic health needs for pregnant women on the move

Regional map: Interactive Map on Emergencies and Humanitarian Response and Preparedness to Provide SRH Services in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Source: UNFPA

Macedonian youth activists at the SRHR seminar in Paris

From November 20th to 23rd youth activists from ASTRA Youth member organization, H.E.R.A. were involved in a seminar that took place in Paris, France. The theme of the seminar was to share experiences on resolving SRHR issues in Europe. The purpose of the project was to create a network between several organizations from Macedonia, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus. It was focused on discussing experiences of civil society in the field of SRHR. The meeting served also as an occasion to broaden youth activists’ perspectives on SRHR realities in other countries. H.E.R.A. activists presented the issue of law on abortion in Macedonia, the general condition of Macedonian society, government’s policies and H.E.R.A.’s activities. Other participants shared their experiences and provided some tips on how this ‘battle’ should be continued.

Source: H.E.R.A.

‘It’s about you’ campaign on abortion stigma in Macedonia

On the International Human Rights Day (10th December), the campaign ‘It’s about you’ was launched as part of H.E.R.A. Youth project ‘Abortion Stigma’.

The launch of the campaign was accompanied by a statement from the HERA Youth calling the Government and the Ministry of Health to take into consideration the concluding observations of the UN Human Rights Committee to review the law and stop the anti-abortion campaign. 

Young girls and activists developed four videos, in which they share their opinions on the situation in Macedonia. The first video was focused on the analysis of the effects of the anti-abortion campaign launched by the government. This campaign included spreading films with upsetting and shocking anti-abortion messages such as ‘Women who had an abortion are killers’ broadcasted on national TV. In the second video the activists were looking back at the protests that were organized against the restrictive changes on abortion law, as well as were discussing the proposed changes, how they affected and will affect women, and how they discriminate and stigmatize women. The third video depicted the analysis of the changes of law and limits in the access to abortion in Macedonia. Finally, in the last video girls of diverse ethnicities shared their opinion on abortion stigma and abortion.

The videos are available at YouTube here and here.


Trainings on CSE and social media in Macedonia

In November and December, H.E.R.A. has implemented two cycles of workshops on comprehensive sexuality education. The first workshop was organized with 15 volunteers and young people interested to volunteer in H.E.R.A. The second workshop was organized in the high school for 25 students, as a project activity conducted by H.E.R.A. Youth. The outcome of workshops was positive, as participants improved their knowledge and indicated changing opinions and attitudes, particularly regarding violence and relationships.

Moreover, H.E.R.A. Youth volunteers working in the radio show ‘Sexy Hood’ took part in two trainings on social media and visual marketing, so they could better promote ideas, opinions and values in the social media. In December, the shows ‘Sexy Hood’ tackled topics such as human rights and LGBTI rights, gender-based violence and how to eliminate violence against women as well as summary of 2015.

The radio show can be followed at Facebook fanpage.


New law banning early marriage in Georgia

Georgian Government considered the recommendation given by the CEDAW and Human Rights committee regarding the issue of early marriage and Georgia’s legislative body has approved an amendment and has provided a legislative proposal, which bans early marriage in the country. According to the draft of the law, parents will not have a right to allow minors to get married and only the court will be allowed to grant youth such permission. 
The amendment is going through the formal steps and after that the changes it will be reflected in the national civil code of Georgia. Association ‘HERA-XXI’ was involved in the advocacy on early marriage on the national as well as international levels and monitored the process of amendment’s development.

To bring public attention to early marriage and mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Georgian Women’s Movement organized an event ‘Don’t Make Her Marry’, which took place in 13 different cities of Georgia. HERA-XXI joined the event held in front of the government building.

Source: Association HERA-XXI

National consultations of young SRHR leaders on the 2030 Agenda in Poland

Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (Eastern Europe & Central Asia Region) along with International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA-Poland) and ASTRA Youth have organized a national consultation for Polish NGOs working in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly young people and adolescents. The consultation were focused on bringing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs from global to local levels, taking into account local opportunities and challenges the civil society faces. The consultation was held as part of ‘Have you seen my rights?’ campaign.

The meeting brought together ten civil society activists working for enhancement of sexual and reproductive health and rights in diverse fields: comprehensive sexuality education, rights of people with disabilities, rights of LGBTQ people and HIV/AIDS-related issues. The participants of the meeting had the occasion to acknowledge with 2030 Agenda and SDGs relevant to sexual and reproductive health, as well as European Parliaments’ reports and resolutions addressing SRHR. Participants have also discussed the strategies of transforming international frameworks into specific local actions and summed up the current realities regarding realization of SRHR in Poland. Consultations concluded with strategizing on potential future advocacy activities aiming to remind the government of their accountability to enhance sexual and reproductive health and rights of all, in particular young people.

Research in Georgia on the access to youth SRH counselling services

Union Women’s Center has conducted the project ‘“Improved Access to Youth Sexual and Repro­ductive Health Counseling Services”, deriving from the main outcomes of the National Youth Policy in Georgia for years 2015-2020. The main goal of the project was to conduct a research on students’ attitudes toward the sexual and reproduc­tive health issues and their vision on health services, particularly how youth-friendly reproductive centers at primary health care level and doctor’s offices at the university level respond to the student’s repro­ductive needs. The research was based on qualitative and quantitative methods, with application of focus group discussions and survey questionnaire. The sample included 30 respondents from various universities.

Data analysis shows that 67% of the students are not aware, if their university provides health center and are convinced that such centers work only in emergency cases. Students are also not aware of the existence of youth-friendly reproductive health centers and 12% of interviewed students have never visited a doctor. Three- quarters of the students rarely visit general health centers or reproductive health centers, mainly because of their low quality and lack of anonymity. The main source of information on sexual and reproductive health is the Internet.

The research also revealed that students regard youth-friendly health consultation centers as important and are in a great need of information on sexually transmitted diseases, family planning and contraception as well as general health care.

Union Women’s Center hopes the results of the research will contribute to the development and implementation of youth policies improving the access to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health counselling services.


16 Days of Activism: Stop Violence Against SRHR Defenders!

On the occasion of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign, in solidarity with women’s rights movements worldwide, and highlighting the courageous actions by activists around the globe working to protect and advance our sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) calls for an end to the violence directed at SRHR defenders, as well as their recognition and protection as Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs).

WGNRR calls on governments, international organizations, partners, and human rights advocates to recognize SRHR activists as WHRDs, particularly those who advocate for safe and legal abortion, LGBTQI rights, human rights in childbirth, sex workers’ rights, and/or youth SRHR; and to end the violence they experience because of who they are and the work that they do. When governments permit attacks on WHRDs, including SRHR defenders, they impede human rights and perpetuate gender-based violence.

For this year’s 16 Days of Activism, WGNRR

Demands that governments and Human Rights bodies:

  • Pay particular attention to cases of WHRDs who have been threatened because of the nature of their work, and protect them from State and non-State actors that can violate their health, wellbeing and rights.
  • Create and implement policies and mechanisms that will protect SRHR defenders’ human rights, among them the rights to defend human rights; to liberty, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association; and to freedom from violence and discrimination.

Encourage international organizations to:

  • Prioritize the recognition of SRHR Defenders as WHRDs in your work, and urge governments to take all necessary steps to create appropriate protection mechanisms and eradicate this form of violence.
  • Within the framework of your mandates, develop standards for the protection of SRHR advocates, to be taken into account by States in the development of inclusive protection policies.

Finally, they are calling on all our members, partners, and allies to:

  • HIGHLIGHT the courageous actions of our colleagues and friends– defenders of sexual and reproductive rights, particularly those who have lost their lives for this cause, and those who have been victims of repression, extremism, intolerance, attacks, threats or intimidation.
  • SHARE your stories and experiences on social media using the hashtags #SRHRvoices #SRHRheroes and help us make visible the often silent struggles SRHR defenders have to endure every day as Women’s Human Rights Defenders. Your story can help raise awareness about the violence that SRHR activists face on a daily basis and be a source of strength for thousands of SRHR defenders!


Share your stories and let your #SRHRvoices be heard! You are #SRHRHeroes !

Stop Violence against SRHR defenders!

 The Call for Action is accessible at:  C4A-16days-layout.pdf

 Source: WGNRR

16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence in Bulgaria

ASTRA Youth member, Gender Alternatives Foundation (GAF) implements the “16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence”[1] Campaign locally in Plovdiv, Bulgaria for a fourth consecutive year. Thus we express solidarity and support for the global efforts of thousands organizations and activists around the world in the eradication of violence against women. We are a major Campaign’s initiator in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. With the activities we say “NO to violence against women and girls – make education safe and accessible to all”!

Many women and girls do not have access to quality education due to existing gender stereotypes and obligations in the household. These challenges pressure girls to comply with domestic and social expectations ending up in early marriages, domestication, discrimination on the labour market and lower wages. Improving access to education and vocational activities of women and girls can break the “circle of poverty” and to encourage economic advancement and other global setbacks like war conflicts and health issues.

In our efforts to secure quality education and to eradicate gender stereotypes, the GAF team has prepared the following activities which we hope to become long-term initiatives:

1.Press conference – announcing the start of the Campaign

2.“Code: Empowerment” workshops

We will conduct several workshops on the basics of computer programming, entitled “Code: Empowerment”. With this activity, we want to encourage young people living in institutions to pursue quality educational opportunities and to further develop their interests in technology. We want to demonstrate to young people and especially to girls that coding is interesting, captivating and useful activity that can lead to sustainable professional development. Ultimately, we strive to show that the world of technology is open to all, irrespective of their age and gender.

 3.     Two months intensive courses on English Language and Information and Communication Technologies for vulnerable groups of women

4.     Street Campaign on the Main street in Plovdiv – 10 double sided advertisement canvases are allocated for the 16 Days Campaign. The activity is in partnership with ZONTA CLUB-Plovdiv. We will also disseminate brochures with the help of volunteers from Plovdiv University. 

Source: Gender Alternatives Foundation

[1] “16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence” Campaign is a globalcampaign directed towards different types of violence against women and girls. It starts on November 25th (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and continues until December 10th (Human Rights Day). The dates were chosen to emphasize the links between ending gender-based violence and human rights principles and highlight that gender-based violence is an international human rights violation. 2015 marks 24 years from Campaign’s beginning which dates back to 1991. The initiative is coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership.


WHO brief on HIV and young MSM

WHO has published a brief ‘HIV and young men who have sex with men’ (MSM). This technical brief is one in a series addressing four young key populations. It is intended for policy-makers, donors, service-planners, service-providers and community-led organizations. This brief aims to catalyse and inform discussions about how best to provide health services, programmes and support for young MSM. It offers a concise account of current knowledge concerning the HIV risk and vulnerability of young MSM; the barriers and constraints they face to appropriate services; examples of programmes that may work well in addressing their needs and rights; and approaches and considerations for providing services that both draw upon and build to the strengths, competencies and capacities of young MSM.

The brief is available here.

Source: WHO

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