Keeping it real: Accountability for women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health during the SDG era

“It’s important we ask women what’s actually happening on the ground. After all these strategies and initiatives, women are still giving birth on the floor. And they have to get their own water!” said Caroline Maposhere, a Zimbabwean nurse-midwife and civil society advocate, from the floor of the 5th Annual Breakfast for Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, September 18.

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Caroline Maposhere shares her experience working as a midwife in Zimbabwe. (Photo by J. Cook Photography)

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Emergency contraception: The reproductive health innovation everyone should know about

By Elizabeth Westley and Monica Kerrigan

Elizabeth Westley leads the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception. Monica Kerrigan is a global leader in family planning and previously served at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and as a senior adviser to Family Planning 2020.

This article originally appeared on Devex.

Unintended pregnancies take a harrowing toll on women, young people, families and nations. When women are unable to decide whether and when to have children, maternal and newborn deaths rise, educational and economic opportunities are lost, families, communities and countries suffer greatly.

Global data highlights the tremendous challenge we face: 213 million pregnancies occur annually and an astonishing 40 percent — about 85 million — of these are unintended. In the United States alone, there are approximately 3 million unintended pregnancies each year, and in India, a staggering 18 million. A woman’s ability to make informed decisions about her reproductive health is one of the most basic human rights. It is a decision that can determine what kind of future she will have — and whether she will have one at all.

Emergency contraception is a unique tool for women to space and time their pregnancies. It is grossly underutilized, underfunded, and not fully optimized globally. It is the only contraceptive method that can be taken after unprotected sex and is effective for several days to prevent pregnancy. It is especially needed by women who have been sexually assaulted, who are often desperate to avoid becoming pregnant by their rapist. Continue reading “Emergency contraception: The reproductive health innovation everyone should know about”

Global Leaders in Maternal and Newborn Health: Patrick Mwesigye (Uganda)

By Sarah Hodin, Project Coordinator II, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

This article originally appeared on the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) blog.

In July 2016, global leaders gathered for the second annual Safe Mothers and Newborns Leadership Workshop hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) in partnership with the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and The Aga Kahn University and sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The participants represented 26 countries from five continents.
Patrick

SMNLW participant Patrick Mwesigye is from Kampala, Uganda. He is the Founder/CEO of the Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum, a community-based organization that aims to empower young women and support youth engagement. He is also the Vice President of the Africa Youth and Adolescents Network on Population and Development and the Chair of the PMNCH advisory group for the adolescent health knowledge summary. Continue reading “Global Leaders in Maternal and Newborn Health: Patrick Mwesigye (Uganda)”

Global Leaders in Maternal and Newborn Health: Dr. Joannie Bewa (Benin)

By Sarah Hodin, Project Coordinator II, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

This article originally appeared on the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) blog.

In July 2016, global leaders gathered for the second annual Safe Mothers and Newborns Leadership Workshop hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) in partnership with the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and The Aga Kahn University and sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The participants represented 26 countries from five continents.

Joannie Bewa

SMNLW participant Dr. Joannie Bewa is a medical doctor from Benin and Founder of the Young Beninese Leaders Association (YBLA). She is also a fellow of the US Government International Visitor Leadership Program and Secretary Clinton’s Women in Public Service Project as well as a semi-finalist of the “UN Special Envoy Youth of Courage Award.” Dr. Bewa was recognized as a champion for advancing sexual and reproductive health by Women Deliver in 2015 and is a member of the “Adolescent and Youth Constituency” of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH). She played a pivotal role advocating for the health-related SDGs with the UNFPA Youth Panel in Benin and was featured on Melinda Gates’ list of six influential women on the topic of global access to contraception. Continue reading “Global Leaders in Maternal and Newborn Health: Dr. Joannie Bewa (Benin)”

WE DECIDE: Young persons with disabilities call for equal rights and a life free of violence

Ariadna Capasso is Senior Technical Advisor for the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health.

Violence against women, including forced or coerced sex, is an epidemic that persists all over the world. But women with disabilities, often marginalized and denied their sexual and reproductive health rights, are particularly vulnerable to such abuse.

In June, UNFPA launched WE DECIDE, a global initiative to promote gender equality and social inclusion of young persons with disabilities and advocate for the end of sexual violence. The FCI Program of MSH worked with UNFPA and a broad range of partners in the field of disabilities to build consensus for the framework of the four-year initiative and to develop communications materials for the initiative, including a video and an infographic that conveys key messages and data on the status of persons with disabilities and gender-based violence.

Photo by the Spanish Cooperation (AECID)
An expert and advocate for persons with disabilities attends a strategy meeting to discuss the new WE DECIDE initiative. Photo by the Spanish Cooperation (AECID)

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Wilson Center Event: After Copenhagen, What Next for Women and Girls?

This post originally appeared on the Maternal Health Task Force blog.

We are excited to announce the upcoming policy dialogue, After Copenhagen, What Next for Women and Girls? The event will take place in Washington, D.C. at The Wilson Center (and online!) on Monday, July 18, 2016. This dialogue is part of the Maternal Health Task Force’s Advancing Policy Dialogue on Maternal Health Series, in partnership with UNFPA and the Wilson Center.

In May, nearly 6,000 people focused on improving the wellbeing of women and girls met in Copenhagen for the Women Deliver conference. They shared stories of progress and hope, discussed challenges, and proposed solutions to some of the most pressing health and rights issues facing girls and women today.

Please join us as we explore ways to deliver results from the largest conference of its kind. Panelists will present in-country perspectives on key maternal health takeaways and the implications for the health and rights agenda in their countries.

Speakers

  • Alix Bacon, President, Midwives Association of British Columbia
  • Dr. Mary Nambao, Deputy Director, Mother Health, Ministry of Health in Zambia
  • Susan Papp, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Women Deliver

Moderated by Roger-Mark De Souza, Director, Population, Environmental Security, and Resilience, Wilson Center

Event Details

Register for the event here

When: Monday, July 18, 2016 from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM EST

Where: The Wilson Center, 5th floor conference room, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, 1300 Pennsylvania, Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20004

Join us online! Tune in to the live webcast or view the archive after the meeting here.

Join the conversation on Twitter at @NewSecurityBeat and @MHTF and by following #MHdialogue. To find more coverage of these issues on the Wilson Center’s blog, NewSecurityBeat.org.

Melissa Wanda nominated for her achievements in reproductive health

Melissa Wanda Kirowo is Advocacy Project Officer for the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health, was nominated for the 120 Under 40 Project by family planning colleagues for her substantial contributions to improving access to family planning in Kenya. The 120 Under 40 Project will select 40 reproductive health champions in 2016, 2017, and 2019 to build a roster of 120 exceptional young leaders by 2020, when the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) partnership aims to reach 120 million additional women and girls with access to life-saving contraceptives and other reproductive health supplies. Read Melissa’s profile first appeared on 120 Under 40.

Meeting the needs of urban youth: What does the community say?

By Carol Gatura

Carol Gatura is Communications Officer at African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC). This article originally appeared on the APHRC blog, and is an update to the post Meeting the sexual and reproductive health needs of youth living in urban poverty.

Youth living in urban informal settlements face numerous challenges when it comes to accessing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services. Comprehensive sexuality education is hardly taught in schools, and parents are not quite sure how to talk about sex with their children.

As part of our work on the USAID-funded African Strategies for Health project – a multi-year initiative in collaboration with Management Sciences for Health that examined barriers to access to reproductive health services in urban and peri-urban contexts across the continent – the African Population and Health Research Center produced a short film based in the Nairobi, Kenya slums of Viwandani and Korogocho.

Senior Chief Omache Nyabuto welcomes participants in Korogocho
Senior Chief Omache Nyabuto welcomes participants in Korogocho.

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Meeting the sexual and reproductive health needs of youth living in urban poverty

Shiko, 23, raises her five-year-old son in a slum outside Nairobi, Kenya. When she went to her first antenatal visit after noticing changes in her body, the nurse denied her services because she thought Shiko was too young to have a baby. Now, Shiko is a mentor of girls in her community. She wants to make sure they have access to sexual and reproductive health information and youth-friendly services, so they can make healthy choices that are right for them.

Hannah, a health worker, provides non-judgmental sexual and reproductive health services to the young people who come to her clinic. Many of the youth she sees are pregnant, have sexually transmitted infections or want contraception.

How can we meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of youth living in urban poverty?

Experts highlight opportunities to improve the health of youth living in impoverished conditions and call for stronger, integrated health services to meet the needs of young people in an increasingly urban Africa.

Featuring FCI Program’s Melissa Wanda (Kenya), the video was funded by USAID and produced by African Strategies for Health (ASH) partners, the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) and Management Sciences for Health (MSH).

Addressing youth and disability: Policies of social inclusion, gender equality, non-discrimination and prevention of sexual violence

By Ariadna Capasso and Maria Faget

Ariadna Capasso is senior program officer for the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) program, and Maria Faget is LAC regional adviser on youth and adolescents.

The rights and needs of persons with disabilities are too often neglected, violated or ignored. This is manifested in acts of discrimination, emotional abuse, and physical and sexual violence, especially among adolescent women. Fifteen percent of people—close to 1 billion–around the world live with a disability, and 80% of them live in developing countries. Many women with disabilities, including adolescents, face unacceptable discrimination. Around 68% of women with a psychosocial disability will suffer sexual abuse before they turn 18. Women with disabilities often see their right to make decisions in regards to their fertility and motherhood curtailed, through practices such as forced sterilization and limited access to family planning methods. These practices are often the result of generalized stereotypes and lack of cultural sensitivity towards disabilities.

Centro de Formación, AECID (Spanish Cooperation)
Centro de Formación, AECID (Spanish Cooperation)

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