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In: An agenda for people: the UNFPA through three decades, edited by Nafis Sadik. New York, New York, New York University Press, 2002. 24-46.The solemn commitment that was made in Cairo in 1994 to make reproductive health care universally available was a culmination of efforts made by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and all those concerned about a people-centred and human rights approach to population issues. The commitment posed important challenges to national governments and the international community, to policy makers, programme planners and service providers, and to the civil society at large. The role of UNFPA in building up the consensus for the reproductive health approach before Cairo had to continue after Cairo if the goals of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) were to be achieved. UNFPA continues to be needed to strengthen the commitment, maintain the momentum, mobilize the required resources, and help national governments and the international community move from word to action, and from rhetoric to reality. Reproductive health, including family planning and sexual health, is now one of three major programme areas for UNFPA. During 1997, reproductive health accounted for over 60 per cent of total programme allocations by the Fund. (excerpt)
In: Women's human rights: unfinished business, edited by Adriana Gomez and Deborah Meacham. Santiago, Chile, Latin American and Caribbean Women's Health Network, 2003. 10-14. (Women's Health Collection No. 7)The legal and political realms of international women's rights have both influenced each other more than criminal law. Developments in the protection of human rights through criminal law is a recent phenomenon compared to the wider framework of women's human rights protection. Although the political recommendations, such as those found in Platforms for Action, do not have the force of law, they do provide a starting point for working towards the goal of agreements on the commitments and priorities not only between the governments, but with civil society as well. However, these processes have not been without conflict, and the dialogue with civil society has incorporated other movements and NGOs whose interests are far from consistent with those of the women's movement. (excerpt)
In: War and public health, edited by Barry S. Levy, Victor W. Sidel. Washington, D.C., American Public Health Association [APHA], 2000. 254-278.War has always been disastrous for civilians, and the Persian Gulf War was no exception. Yet the image that has been perpetuated in the West is that the Gulf War was somehow "clean" and fought with "surgical precision" in a manner that minimized civilian casualties. However, massive wartime damage to Iraq's civilian infrastructure led to a breakdown in virtually all sectors of society. Economic sanctions further paralyzed Iraq's economy and made any meaningful post-war reconstruction all but impossible. Furthermore, the invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent Gulf War unleashed internal political events that have been responsible for further suffering and countless human fights violations. The human impact of these events is incalculable. In 1996, more than five years after the end of the war, the vast majority of Iraqi civilians still subsist in a state of extreme hardship, in which health care, nutrition, education, water, sanitation, and other basic services are minimal. As many as 500,000 children are believed to have died since the beginning of the Persian Gulf War, largely due to malnutrition and a resurgence of diarrheal and vaccine- preventable diseases. Health services are barely functioning due to shortages of supplies and equipment. Medicines, including insulin, antibiotics, and anesthetics, are in short supply. The psychological impact of the war has had a damaging and lasting effect on many of Iraq's estimated eight million children. (excerpt)
Women and Environments International. 2003 Spring; (58-59):6-8.There are two main lessons that can be learned from the Bosnian experience. First, it is absolutely vital that a gender analysis from the very outset is placed at the heart of peacekeeping operations or postwar reconstruction. It should be main-streamed so that everyone, not just women, not just gender focal points, but everyone thinks about the gender realities of the war and of peace. Second, local women's NGOs must be consulted, befriended, made partners with the international community and have equal rights in the process. (excerpt)
New York, New York, UNDP, . 4 p.There is also a need for greater insight into why and how men and women enter into sexually-defined spaces and relations. For women, this may have to do with cultural imperatives which place high value on mother-hood and on the continuation of the lineage. Or the reason may have to do with economic imperatives, an inability to survive economically without the support of a man or except by commercial sex work. Or with a desire for the intimacy or companionship which a sexual relationship may give them or with a need for protection, a critical social role that men play. A women-centered analysis of desire and sexuality, of power and its impact, of relations of production and reproduction, of the social construction of kinship and gender, of the value of compassion and solidarity, that is, of the experience of being a woman, all contribute to a better understanding of why, for an individual woman, it may be so very difficult to remain uninfected. (excerpt)
The International Conference on Population and Development -- Prepcom II Meeting: intervention by the representative of the Family Planning Association of India.
JOURNAL OF FAMILY WELFARE. 1993 Jun; 39(2):1-2.Family planning is needed to improve women's status, health, and welfare. The Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) wants women to live rather than die and to become their own persons, not just childbearers. The cultural and societal coercion to bear children needs to dissipate so women can gain equal status by having control over their own bodies and fertility and by practicing their rights as citizens. Insufficient health care and too frequent pregnancies kill too many women. Family planning use allows women to prevent pregnancy, the hazards of abortion, and premature death caused by pregnancy. Contraceptives seldom cause death, even when they have certain side effects. In developing countries, unwanted pregnancies and pregnancy complications kill millions of women yearly. India experiences more maternal deaths in 1 week than does all of Europe. Policies and programs must secure the availability of basic health care for women and men at every life stage, safe motherhood and child survival services, quality care and counseling for health and family planning, and information allowing people to make informed individual choices in family planning. Providers must clearly communicate the advantages and disadvantages of family planning methods so people can make choices that are right for them. Since population, development, and environment are interrelated, we must use measures that address all three issues. The Cairo Conference must address a broad spectrum of interrelated issues. It needs to clearly communicate that we can solve rapid population growth in a reasonable time period. Solutions must be ethical, humane, and beneficial as well as preserve human rights and responsibilities and achieve environmental balance with sustainable development.
Development. 1989; (4):49-51.In 1970, the United Nations adopted a long-term women's advancement program and other initiatives to raise consciousness on women's issues and to identify appropriate actions to take in promoting gender equality and women's integration in development. Setting its objective as equality between the sexes by the year 2000, the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies is also a UN system-wide medium-term plan with specific activities to implement over the period 1990-95. These UN actions have, therefore, prepared the way for women's advancement in the 1990s and beyond. Efforts do, however, need to be made to build upon and expand these initiatives to facilitate the total integration, participation, and recognition of women in the social, economic, and political lives of countries throughout the world. Present UN strategy suffers from multiple focal points, a diffused mandate, limited financial resources, and inadequate interaction with national governments. The development of an UN Special Agency for Women's Development is suggested as a way of solidly propelling women ahead toward globally-recognized equality and greater overall opportunity. This agency would be the umbrella over existing and future related programs and activities, armed with a clear and specific mandate, an independent executive board, an independent fundraising ability, institutional arrangements to undertake in-country projects, and field offices.
CONSCIENCE. 1991 Sep-Oct; 12(5):6.When IPPF was formed in 1952, its driving force was concern for women, for women's health and women's reproductive rights. 40 years on, those same issues are still at the heart of IPPF's policies and programs. Marge Berer has made a plea for a feminist approach within international family planning, and IPPF is in complete agreement that women's needs and choices should be paramount. All individuals and couples must have the basic human right to decide freely and responsible the number and spacing of their children. Women must also have the right to receive full information and counselling to choose their contraceptive method. Our secretary general, Dr. Halfdan Mahler, stresses that if family planning is to be effective, it must always begin with the individual, taking the whole issue of reproductive health into consideration. Men must share the responsibility for sexual behavior and family planning, and real equality will only be attained when women are empowered to regulate their own fertility. As nongovernmental health care organizations, IPPF's member associations offering services in 133 countries are able to work towards the principles of informed choice and voluntary family planning--even where governments may not be giving women the choices they deserve. (full text)
POPULI. 1989 Jun; 16(2):4-19.Barriers that prevent women from reaching their full potential should be eliminated, especially in developing countries. Households headed by females are the poorest in the world. In many countries, women are not permitted to own land. Family planning services are essential to the development of women. About US $3 billion a year is spent on family planning services in developing countries. In many developing nations, discrimination against girls is ingrained. Small, weak babies are likely to come from underfed mothers. Childbirth has risks; these are especially so in developing countries. 3/4 of the developing world's health problems can be solved by prevention and cure. In 60 developing countries, women working outside the home tended to have fewer children than those working at home or in the fields. But studies in Turkey, Thailand, and other countries have shown the opposite. In 38 countries, research has shown that only at higher socioeconomic levels is employment an alternative to childbearing. Relying on women for cheap, unskilled labor is a waste of human and economic resources. Better education and higher employment levels could enable women to better contribute to development. Employment figures for women often misrepresent the actual amount of work that women do. Having women do less work and making what they do more profitable might help bring down family size. In almost every country studied recently educated women have had fewer children than less educated women. The families of these educated mothers are likely to be healthier, too. Recommendations addressed mainly to governments, are given in 6 areas: 1) equality of status; 2) documenting and publicizing women's contribution to development; 3) increasing women's productivity and lessening their double burden; 4) providing family planning; 5) improving women's health; and 6) expanding education. Goals for the year 2000 are given. For the last 20 years, the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) has emphasized women's role in population programs and projects. UNFPA has set up an internal Working Group on Women, Population and Development.
In: Women's health and apartheid: the health of women and children and the future of progressive primary health care in Southern Africa, edited by Marcia Wright, Zena Stein and Jean Scandlyn. New York, New York, Columbia University, 1988. 84-9.There is a large discrepancy between maternal mortality rates in developed and developing countries, with maternal mortality as a leading cause of death of young women in poor countries. There has been renewed interest in maternal mortality among international agencies and major foundations quite recently. Women and children form up to 2/3 of the population of many developing countries, and over 1/2 of primary health care resources are devoted to maternal and child health programs. Nevertheless, little of this is directed at maternal mortality; most goes to immunization, oral rehydration for diarrhea, monitoring children's growth, and promoting breastfeeding. While some of the international health community attribute the long neglect of maternal mortality to not knowing the extent and severity of the problem before, prior data existed demonstrating the alarmingly high rates. Low maternal mortality in the West may have distracted attention from the international problem. Sexism may have been a major factor, as even today efforts to reduce maternal mortality need to be justified in terms of the implications for the family, children and society as a whole. The reasons for the current concern are not clear, but may relate to an interest in concrete issues after the United Nations Decade for Women, or real surprise in the international community once the problem was pointed out. As various agencies rush to establish maternal mortality programs, it is imperative to evaluate which approaches will be really effective. Critical evaluation of programs is necessary to capitalize on the current interest.
World Education Reports. 1985 Nov; (24):15-7.In the last decade we have come to radically redefine our understanding of how women fit into the socioeconomic fabric of developing countries. At least 2 factors have contributed to this realignment in our thinking. 1st, events around the UN Decade for Women dramatized women's invisibility in development planning, and mobilized human and financial resources around the issue. 2nd, the process of modernization underway in all developing countries has dramatically changed how women live and what they do. In the last decade, more and more women have become the sole providers and caretakers of the household, and have been forced to find ways to earn income to feed and clothe their families. Like many other organizations, USAID, in its current policy, emphasizes the need to integrate women as contributors to and beneficiaries of all projects, rather than to design projects specifically geared to women. Integrating women into income generation projects requires building into every step of a project--its design, implementation and evaluation--mechanisms to assure that women are not left out. The integration of women into all income generating projects is still difficult to implement. 4 reasons are suggested here: 1) resistance on the part of planners and practitioners who are still not convinced that women contribute substantially to a family's income; 2) few professionals have the expertise necessary to address the gender issue; 3) reaching women may require a larger initial investment of project funds; and 4) reaching women may require experimenting with approaches that will fit into their village or urban reality.
Women and health for all. Address at the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women, Nairobi, 16 July 1985.
[Unpublished] 1985. 3 p.Health for all by the year 2000 is an ideal embraced by the World Health Assembly. In his address, Dr. Mahler clarifies the objectives of that ideal while focusing on the plight of the underprivileged and women. He calls for education to bring about an understanding of the basic causes of illness including political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, and biological factors. He suggests the subject of women and health become more focused on women as women rather than in their roles of mothers or potential mothers. He supports the premise that through understanding comes the most effective action. The underprivileged are highlighted as a group most in need of medical attention but he warns against making them into excessive consumers of health services. Women in developing countries are considered the most at-risk health group because they are not treated equally economically, politically, or even nutritionally. It is well known that the female population of many developing countries eat considerably less than do their male counterparts, even to the point of malnutrition. Also, poor nutrition presents special health risks to the pregnant woman and her children. There are 2 ways in which health care planners may view the plight of these populations. A "he" approach points to socioeconomic development as the answer while a "she" strategy promotes a more nurturing attitude toward issues of health planning.
Women and population: the freedom to choose, statement made at the International Women's Year Conference, Mexico City, 23 June, 1975.
New York, N.Y., UNFPA, . 6 p.The themes of the International Women's Year Conference are of direct relevance to the work of the UNFPA. The UN looks upon population as a strategic factor in development. The main instrument for program action is the UNPFA which is contributed to voluntarily by 78 countries and which assists 92 countries in over 1200 projects. The measures set out in the draft Plan of Action for International Women's Year will assist women's contributions to national development. Equality is what causes development. By broadening the opportunities available to women, they will be able to enrich their own lives. Given the freedom to adapt, change becomes a positive force. However, many women do not have this freedom. There is considerable pressure for them to remain in the same niche--that of bearing and rearing children. It has been demonstrated that there is a connection between jobs outside the home, education for women, and smaller family size. Freedom to choose is more than a matter of having fewer children. It is allowing women the freedom to make the most appropriate contribution possible for them, whatever that may be. The UNFPA has recognized the importance of women to successful population policies. A considerable part of the UNFPA's available funds are devoted to health care for mothers and children, and family planning. One of the most serious problems which remains is the question of women as workers, including the problems of involving women in government. The 2 recommendations made by the Executive Director of the UNFPA are: 1) that governments acknowledge how important freedom to choose is for the future of women, and 2) that governments recognize by their policies the importance to national development of a female population which is able to achieve its aims--be they motherhood, a career, or both.
Women and World Population Year, decision-making for development, statement made at the Women's Forum on Population and Development, New York, 25 February 1974.
New York, N.Y., UNFPA, . 8 p.This statement briefly traces the history of development and population programs from the 1960's till the present and discusses what these programs can do for women. The cumulative effect of apparently minor innovations which help to ease the work load in the home is far greater than it might appear. There are significant material benefits but more important are the effects of the way a woman perceives herself. She has, for the 1st time, opportunity to widen her horizons, Increased education, employment and equality tend to lower family size as well. It is therefore important to ensure the commitment and participation of women in family planning programs, so that women become active rather than passive tools of policies which ultimately affect their lives.