Evaluations from the Executive Board of UNDP/UNPF/UNOPS: Plenary Meeting 6

The Executive Board of UNDP, UNFPA, and UNOPS came together to reconsider revised points to UNFPA’s policy for the prevention, response to and elimination of gender-based violence and harmful practices. Both the Director of Evaluation Office representative and the Executive Director touched upon updating policies to specify definitions, principals, and standards that have been previously established within the UNFPA. Four established areas regarding transparency highlighted within the UNFPA Evaluation Policy were discussed, with emphasis on joint evaluation (assessment of UN agency inter-relationships, i.e, UNFPA and WHO) and system-wide evaluation (assessment of UN as a whole). The Executive Director emphasized on result based management to take lessons learned from prior experiences to implement into new policies locally, regionally, governmentally, and internationally.

Delegates agreed on the necessity of UNFPA and cooperation between countries as well as sectors within the UN as a whole. The delegate from Switzerland on behalf of 20 other countries raised general concerns on resource allocation as well as the idea of system-wide joint evaluations, which was countered by the Director of Evaluation in explaining that resource allocation protects funding for the centralized evaluation core. Transparency will be combated with continued annual budget reports. More details regarding gender and human rights updates were also requested. Mexico highlighted a demand in attention for sexual and reproductive health treatment, specifically in younger people to strengthen political, economical, and social ties while Belgium voiced concerns for budgeting issues.

Meeting: Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme/United Nations Population Fund/United Nations Office for Project Services – Plenary Meeting 6

Date/Location: 23 January 2019, Economic and Social Council Chamber

Speakers: Executive Board: Director of Evaluation Office representative; Executive Director of UNDP, UNFPA, UNOPS; Burkina Faso; Switzerland (on behalf of 20 other countries); Mexico, Botswana, Belgium, Sweden

Written By: WIT Representative Jessica Shi

United Nations Development Programme–Executive Board Meeting

UNPF

The United Nations Population Fund held a conference to reaffirm the mission of the organization and officially recognize Dr. Natalia Kanem as the new Executive Director of UNFPA. UNFPA is the leading reproductive health and rights agency of the UN for delivering a world where every pregnancy is unwanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. This meeting underlined the critical importance of instating universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.

Dr. Kanem aims to ensure that human and finance resources of the organization are optimally employed. A strong humanitarian presence must be maintained not only to colocate rapid response but to optimize common back office options.

The representative of Antigua and Barbuda highlighted the importance of UNFPA in responding to real time crisis in relation to the passage of recent hurricanes Irma and Maria. He also stated that the resources behind UNFPA should not be redirected from the program budget, but rather through cross-cutting and cross-saving exercises.

The representative of Cuba stressed the importance of maintaining attention and support for middle income countries, as they continue to face poverty eradication and commitment to not leave anyone behind. The representative of Norway asserted the protection and promotion of sexual and reproductive health as crucial for sustainable development. UNFPA must be a stronger humanitarian actor to support the women and men who do not know how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies, and disease, as lead them towards a better life. Enhancing better sexuality education is the equivalent of delivering the SDG’s.

The representative of the United States honored the concept of families as building blocks of societies and will continue to work with agencies that share this commitment. However, the U.S. stands against any program of abortion and coercion, as domestic laws of coercive abortion do not protect the sanctity of life, the most important human right of all.

Universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare will also promote the advancement of gender equality, empowerment of women, and focus on eradicating poverty.

Meeting: Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme / United Nations Population Fund / United Nations Office for Project Services

Date/Location: Thursday, 25 January 2018, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm; Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York

Speakers:

H.E. Mr. Jagdish D. Koonjul, President of the United Nations Population Fund

Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the UNFPA

H.E. Mr. Chull-joo Park, Vice-President of the UNFPA, Deputy Permanent Representative of Republic of Korea to the United Nations

Mr. Tumasie Blair, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations

H.E. Mrs. Anayansi Rodriguez Camejo, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations

H.E. Mr. Ib Peterson, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations

Mr. Tore Hattrem, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations

H.E. Mr. Yasuhisa Kawamura, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations

Representative of the United States

Written by: WIT Representative Kristin Kweon

Commemorating World AIDS Day

 

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To commemorate World AIDS Day, various NGOs discussed the significance of civil society’s role in responding to gloabl HIV/ AIDS. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) cannot be eradicated without vaccines, and AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) develops in some people after exposure to HIV. People living with HIV can avoid developing AIDS if they are tested and receive treatment early. Dr. Padmini Murthy, global health director/ professor at New York Medical College, considered AIDS as an issue of gender equality. Women are more prone to AIDS due to biological makeup. Getting tested is a high-priority following unprotected sex, or in cases of sexual assault. According to Dr. Murthy, women are less likely to be proactive in obtaining and initiating condom use during intercourse due to societal gender roles in heterosexual encounters. She sighted education and empowerment as key factors in discontinuing this pattern. Simon Bland, director of the UN AIDS office of New York, tested the audience’s knowledge on statistics surrounding HIV/AIDS. Currently, 37 million people live globally with AIDS. The majority of new HIV infections are in young women having heterosexual sex. Only 60% of individuals living with HIV are aware of their positive status.

Eric Sawyer, co- founder of ACT UP and the Housing Works and Health Gap organization, discussed initial responses to AIDS in 1981. There were extreme stigmas. Fear and neglect of diagnosed individuals made living with HIV/AIDS that much more frightening and isolating. Many who tested positive were fired, evicted, and shunned. Only two funeral homes in New York City were willing to embalm HIV positive bodies. However, 35 years later, Deborah Levine, executive director of Love Heals, happily announced that last year no child was born HIV positive in NYC. Molly McHugh, Communications Director of Grassroots Soccer (GRS), stated that GRS offers support to HIV positive youth by referring them to treatment and providing them with safe and supportive spaces.

Meeting: Briefing on “HIV and AIDS: How can civil society revitalize the response?” (on the occasion of the World AIDS Day) (organized by the NGO Relations, NGO Relations and Advocacy, and Special Events Section, Outreach Division, Department of Public Information (DPI))

Date/ Time/Location: Thursday, 1 December 2016; 13:15 to 14:30; United Nations Headquarters, Trusteeship Council Chamber

Speakers: Dr. Padmini Murthy, Global Health Director/Professor at New York Medical College and NGO representative; Simon Bland, Director of UN AIDS office of NY; Eric Sawyer, Co- Founder of ACT UP and Housing Works and Health Gap; Deborah Levine, Executive Director of Love Heals; Molly McHugh, Communications Director of Grassroots Soccer

Written By: Donna Sunny, WIT Representative

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

The Emotional Impact of an AIDS Diagnosis

Countries with The Highest HIV AIDS Prevalence Rates

 

Following a brief introduction, the documentary “It’s Not Over” was screened. It followed three people – Sarang, Paige, and Lucky – and their experiences surrounding HIV/AIDS to illustrate the human stories behind the disease.

South Africa has more people with HIV than any other country in the world. Locals estimate that 80% of the Khayelitsha population has HIV, and that 1 in 3 adults use drugs there. This drug use can make the body weaker and more susceptible to HIV. A lot of women contract HIV from rape, which is a constant there. Lucky’s friend Sisi says that as a woman living in South Africa, “anything can happen at anytime.”

Some interesting statistics from the film: If on a full effective HIV treatment regimen, HIV patients can lower the chance of spreading the disease by 96%. Out of 400,000 sex workers in Mumbai, up to 75% are thought to have HIV.  2.3 million people are infected with HIV per year.

After the screening, the four speakers answered questions from the audience. Ms. Flynn noted that half of the new infections occurring were in people under 24. Ms. Rawl wants people to learn the basic facts about the disease and understand that having it doesn’t define a person. “It’s not the health aspect of being HIV positive that’s hard…it’s the stigma.”  She is still encountering students in schools whose sexual health classes aren’t teaching them that saliva is not one of the bodily fluids that transmits the disease. To the people who aren’t sure of how to open up about it to those around them, she suggests opening with a general comment about HIV and seeing the reaction in the room. If those people don’t know about HIV, then educate them first and then tell them.

Meeting: Panel discussion on and screening of the documentary entitled “It’s Not Over” (in observance of World AIDS Day (1 December) (co-organized by the Permanent Mission of the Netherlands, the United States Mission, MAC AIDS Fund and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS))

Date/Location: Monday, November 30, 2015; 16:00-18:15, Conference Room 4

Speakers: Andrea Flynn – Moderator, MAC AIDS Fund; Paige Rawl – Author, “Positive”, Subject, “It’s Not Over”; Lotte Dijkstra – Dutch Youth Ambassador for Sexual Reproductive Rights and HIV/AIDS; Andrew Jenks – Director, “It’s Not Over”

Written By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

 

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