A Baseline for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Today’s meeting focused on why sexual and reproductive health and rights are essential to achieve the SDGs and gender equality. The moderator introduced the panel speakers and stated that NGLS is working hard to build support between the UN and civil societies.

The first speaker was Ms. Namasivayam, and she explained that SRHR is often vaguely understood and an overlooked component in development, yet its role is fundamental to achieving sustainable well-being for all. SRHR has two key components already captured in the SDGs: health and gender equality. She noted how access to health services is critical especially for low-income communities, and acts as a social leveler to reduce inequalities. She also said that fundamental freedoms such as who and when to marry enable autonomy and decision-making for women.

The second speaker was Ms. Nessa, and she explained the statistics behind the sexual and reproductive rights for context. 64% of women aged 20-24 are married before the age of 19, 31% of adolescent girls aged 15-19 already have one child, and 30.8% of school dropouts start an early sexual and reproductive role. She explained that one of the key challenges of SRHR is a lack of political will of the policy makers and executives.

Another notable speaker was Ms. David, and she discussed the sexual and reproductive health programs in the Philippines. She stated that there is weak implementation of such programs, as the Philippines is one of 2 countries in the world with no progress in MMR reduction. Abortion is illegal in the country, but estimates put the number of induced abortions at 600,000/year, resulting in 100,000 hospitalizations for abortion complications. However, she said that there is a growing demand among civil societies and the media for policy changes. After the panelist speakers, the floor was open for questions.

Meeting: Universal Access to SRHR (Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights)

Date/Location: Wednesday March 23, 2016, 13:15 – 14:30, Conference Room 7

Speakers: Susan Alzner, UN-NGLS and moderator; Ms. Managala Namasivayam, Senior Programme Officer of ARROW; Ms. Habbibum Nessa, Naripokkho; Rina Jiminez David, member of board of directors at Likhaan; Dr. P. Balasubramanian, Rural Women’s Social Education Centre

Written By: WIT Representative Kangho (Paul) Jung

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: Jade Beall

Nordic Gender Equality: Showing Reproductive Rights are Lucrative

New service lets you protest anti-women legislation for only $3.50

Today, there was a meeting held by the Nordic Council of Ministers about four fundamental goals for prosperity in gender equality, seen as essential in achieving the sustainable developmental goals. The six ministers discussed the challenges and successes in creating advances towards striving to achieve the sustainable development goals, specifically expanding on the role of gender equality and their individual Nordic experiences.

Ms. Regnér began, “We see gender equality not only as an issue of human rights, but also as a vehicle to develop the whole society.” Sweden received 106,000 refugees last year, and upon finding that some of the girls were married, the Swedish society reacted with outrage. Had a more global effort been made, less girls would have been forced to marry.

Next, Ms. Harðardóttir focused on the target achieving universal health coverage. She stated the cost-benefit for aiding reproductive rights is the one of the highest in the agenda: $120 returned for every dollar spent. She stressed that women should not go 150 years without gender equality, the projected time if progress is made at its current rate.

Ms. Horne and Ms. Nørby pushed for the implementation for education as a prerequisite for many of the other goals. Only 49% of all children attend secondary education; 65 million adolescents are out of school — they are being deprived of a future. Education is the most important investment towards empowering girls.

Mr. Rehula acknowledged the advances made by the Nordic countries in the workforce, but also stated that the gender pay gap and the lack of women in top corporate positions needs to be improved on. Good quality and productivity will result from this evolving workforce. Finally, Ms. Samuelsen, being from a small island, shared her perspective on promoting equality, specifically on out-migration and future sustainability.

Meeting: Gender Equality and the Sustainable Development Goals – Nordic Ministerial Panel

Date/Location: March 16th, 2016, 11:30-12:45; Conference Room 11

Speakers: Eygló Harðardóttir, Minister of Social Affairs and Housing, Iceland; Solveig Horne, Minister of Children and Equality, Norway; Åsa Regnér, Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality, Sweden; Juha Rehula, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, Finland; Eyðgunn Samuelsen, Minister of Social Affairs, Faroe Islands; Ellen Trane Nørby, Minister for Children, Education and Gender Equality, Denmark

Written By: WIT Representative Jin Yoo

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: Send Congress Your Uterus

Using Data to Promote Policy Change and Advance Sexual and Reproductive Health and Reproductive Rights

imagesMr. Kumar discussed the use of data in promoting the rights of women and children. Ms. Gilmore stressed the need to aid women who do not have the ability to make choices. Credible data is needed to enable legislation and utilize resources. Ms. Helkena stated that 70% of women living in the Marshall Islands have reported experiencing an act of sexual violence. Ms. Summers represented the Guttmacher Institute and presented a comprehensive report that analyzes the costs and benefits of investing in sexual and reproductive rights. She explained that enormous benefits follow from greater investment in women’s health and medicine. Each dollar invested in contraception reduces the cost of pregnancy and HIV care by $1.50. Further, the $39 billion needed for such an investment only amounts to $25 per capita.  Princess Zeid highlighted that women are unable to participate when they, or their children, are ill. Discussions within the developing community have demonstrated a desire to include women and adolescents.

Conflict-related violence has been increasing since 2007, and women and children are 14 times more likely to die in the resulting circumstances. Ms. Gilmore addressed the need to address infant mortality–60% of infant deaths that take place in developing countries are preventable. She focused on desegregating society and understanding the difference between urban and rural communities, questioning where multidimensional health risk assessment fits into overall development planning.

Mr. Heeke discussed unconventional data sources, like social media, that are being used today. Ms. Helkena discussed social norms and budget allocations, focusing on mobilizing the public through parliamentary champions. Ms. Winegar highlighted the need to link data to stories and anecdotes to relate to the public and evoke action.

Meeting: Using data to promote policy change and advance sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights
Date & Location: 18 March 2015, Conference Room 11, UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers: Moderator Mr. Raj Kumar, President & Editor-in-Chief Devex; HRH Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan, Advocate, maternal and newborn health; Molly Helkena, Assistant Secretary Ministry of Internal Affairs Marshal Islands; Kate Gilmore, Deputy Executive Director, Programme, UNFPA; Dr. Cynthia Summers, Vice President for Public Education, the Guttmacher Institute; Stefan Heeke, Executive Director SumAll.org, Adjunct Professor Columbia University SIPA; Chrysula Winegar, Global Mom Challenge
Written by WIT Representative: Ellie Guner
Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey