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Posts Tagged ‘women’s rights’

Progress at Snail’s Pace since Beijing

In Women's Health on May 3, 2010 at 11:50 am

Melanne Verveer, the U.S. Ambassador at large for global women’s issues at the Department of State, delivered a sobering message on the progress of women’s health at the Penn-ICOWHI’s groundbreaking 18th Conference April 7-10 in Philadelphia.

There have been few advances in making women’s health worldwide since the 1995 international conference on women’s issues in Beijing, she said.

“The progress since Beijing on women’s health has not been as significant as other areas,” said Verveer who delayed an overseas trip to attend the conference as the keynote speaker.

Among the alarming statistics she cited:

  • AIDs remains the leading cause of death among women age 15-44 worldwide. “Today the face of AIDs is the face of a woman,” she said.
  • Unacceptable high rate of maternal death linked to early forced marriages, lack of education, lack of access to health services.
  • Adolescent girls are the most vulnerable. They represent high risk for early pregnancy, birth rate highest among them.
  • A woman in Africa has a 1 in 26 chance of dying in childbirth; in developing nations, it is 1 in 7,500.
  • More than 500,000 women worldwide die in childbirth every year.

But there is good news, too.

  • The prevention of mother to child HIV transmission is increasing dramatically because of new drugs.
  • The age of marriage has been raised around the world.
  • More girls are in school.
  • Violence against women is being criminalized in many countries.

Nevertheless, Verveer said there is plenty of work to do to make the lives of women and girls better, increase their access to health care and expand their life expectancies.

“When women and girls have access to health care services, they are valued more, they are educated. They are likely to have smaller families,” she said. “The most effective development investments that can be made are those made for women.”

Improving access to health care for women improves the family, the community and a nation’s productivity, she added.

“Our work is far from done,” she said. “Women’s rights are human rights, and we cannot settle for anything less.”

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Domestic Violence Has No Borders

In Women's Health on March 29, 2010 at 2:11 pm

The 18th Annual International Congress on Women’s Health Issues is focusing on domestic violence, one of many issues it’s studying that affects women’s health.

Domestic violence against women is spread worldwide, but its characteristics vary depending on social and cultural factors.

Whether it happens in Philadelphia or in Brazil, its impact on women is the same: It affects their health and well being. It is a public health issue.

One session will look at the impact on women in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where domestic violence was reported by 37 percent of the mothers interviewed.

Another session looks at domestic violence in Uganda where nearly 80 percent of the women experience some sort of domestic violence such as sexual assault, physical violence, economic, verbal or emotional abuse.

And a third focuses on domestic violence against women in Bangladesh who are victims of abuse inflicted by a husband on an unintended pregnancy and who subsequently terminated the pregnancy.

Domestic violence perpetrated by a husband is a violation of women’s rights and is a pervasive global public health concern no matter where it occurs.

The conference will look at this issue – one of many it is studying and plans to offer strategies to help put end to it whether it’s in the slums of Uganda or apartment dwellings of America’s cities.

— Judi Hasson