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CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights

No 09 (77) 2009

table of contents:

burning issue

The 15th anniversary of Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Plan of Action. The ICPD, held in Cairo in 1994, was considered a groundbreaking effort for shifting population policy discussions away from simply slowing population growth to enhancing individual health and rights while focusing on social development. Fifteen years on, the realities of 2009 are different from those of 1994. At least 1.5 billion people aged 10 to 25 — the largest generation of young people in history — will need sexual and reproductive health services, says the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Globally, there are about 33 million people living with HIV, reports the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS or UNAIDS, with 2.7 million new infections in 2007, most of which are sexually transmitted infections. Every year, more than half a million women die in pregnancy or childbirth, including 67,000 from unsafe abortion. Additionally, six million suffer injury, illness, or disability. In September, UNFPA organised Global NGO Forum Aims to Strengthen Partnerships, Advance Sexual And Reproductive Health. The forum of about 400 delegates was preceded by a youth summit, where leaders under 30 called for cultural, legal and political changes to confront stigma and promote reproductive health. During the forum, NGOs called for more funding for women's health as way to lift families and communities out of poverty. The Berlin Call to Action NGOs urged immediate national, government and international action to: • Guarantee that sexual and reproductive rights, as human rights, are fully recognized and fulfilled, through legal reforms and new family policies; • Invest in comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information, supplies and services as a priority in health systems strengthening, by increasing access for all (especially in emergency settings) to family planning and skilled maternal and newborn health care, and to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services, and by addressing unsafe abortion as a public health and human rights issue; • Ensure the sexual and reproductive rights of adolescents and young people, by removing barriers to their access to information and services and empowering them to make policies and informed decisions about their own lives; • Create and implement formal mechanisms for meaningful civil society participation in programs, policy and budget decisions, monitoring and evaluation, by protecting advocates as human rights defenders, involving young people, marginalized groups and NGOs in policy dialogue and guaranteeing them autonomy; and • Ensure that donor contributions and national budgets and policies meet the needs of all people for sexual and reproductive health and rights, especially during times of economic stress.

More: Global NGO Forum

Health Expectations - Celebrating Achievements of the Cairo Consensus and Highlighting the Urgency for Action. On the occasion of ICPD +15 UNFPA and the Population Reference Bureau are very happy to launch the publication: Health Expectations - Celebrating Achievements of the Cairo Consensus and Highlighting the Urgency for Action. The publication takes stock of ICPD 15 years later, shows progress, highlights disparities and calls attention to areas where accelerated action is needed to meet the commitments made in 1994. It contains a series of charts, data and figures on everything from maternal health and family planning, over young people, inequality, and education to population growth and poverty. And it also examines the links between the many areas of action outlined in Programme of Action and some of the associated costs. It is easy to read and easy to use.

The web version is available here: UNFPA

regional updates

Polish Catholic magazine fined over hate speech against Alicja Tysiac.A Polish court ordered a Roman Catholic magazine to pay a fine and apologize to Alicja Tysiac for likening her to a killer for wanting an abortion as well as for equating her decision with Nazi crimes. Tysiac has become a symbol for the abortion rights movement because she challenged Poland's ban on abortion with the European Court of Human Rights. In 2007, that court ordered Poland to pay her damages of 25,000 EUR because doctors refused to let her terminate her pregnancy despite serious risk to her eyesight as a result of which she was entitled to lawful abortion. After giving birth, her eyesight deteriorated considerably due to a retinal hemorrhage and doctors declared her significantly disabled. The judge ruled that Catholics are free to express their moral disapproval of abortion – and even call it murder – but in a general way that stops short of vilifying an individual. The magazine is ordered to pay Alicja Tysiac 30,000 zlotys (nearly $11,000) and issue her a written apology. The magazine is planning appellation. The decision of the court raised numerous protests of clergy, Polish episcopate and right-wingers. Poland allows the termination of a pregnancy until the 12th week but only if the mother's life is in danger, the fetus is irreparably damaged or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

Source: Federation for Women and Family Planning

European Commission holds consultations on EU Communication on Global Health.The first meeting of EU Communication was held in Brussels. The Communication is supposed to cover all aspects of global health, addressing in particular global health equity, global health coherence and global health knowledge. In the meeting, the linkages between the lack of adequate access to basic health care in developing countries and the consequent high maternal mortality rates were discussed. This autumn, the Commission will hold public online consultations as part of the preparatory process toward the Communication, which will give SRHR advocates from all over the world the opportunity to provide substantial input.

Source: EPHA

United Nations calls on Azerbaijan to address widespread violence against women.The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, a United Nations monitoring body composed of independent experts, has called on the Government of Azerbaijan to adopt measures to end serious discrimination and violence against women. In July 2009, the Committee examined the situation of women in Azerbaijan and measures taken by the government in accordance with obligations under the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Convention). The Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan (HRCA), with the support of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), submitted a report to the Committee’s experts, documenting numerous violations including: persistent violence against women, widespread trafficking of women and girls, severe under-representation of women in political and public life and obstacles to access to employment and health services. These concerns are largely reflected in the recommendations of the Committee.

The Committee’s recommendations: OHCHR

Human rights defenders under threat in Serbia.According to the briefing issued by Amnesty International, over the past year women human rights defenders have been attacked in the media including being threatened with lynching. Such attacks are made by parliamentarians, members of ultra-right organizations and members of the security services indicted for war crimes. The briefing also focuses on those who defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT). Since 2001 the LGBT community in Serbia has been unable to hold a Pride Day parade due to serious threats by right-wing and religious organizations. Amnesty International calls on the Serbian government to implement in law and in practice the principles of the UN Declaration of Human Rights Defenders, which provides a framework for the protection and support of human rights defenders. The organization also calls on the embassies of EU member states to provide protection and support to defenders in Serbia.

Source:Amnesty International

Next Commission set for human rights post. The next European Commission is likely to have a commissioner responsible for fundamental rights and civil liberties, it emerged after September negotiations between Jose Manuel Barroso and liberal deputies in the European Parliament. A centre-right oriented Barroso, that has been reelected for next term as the European Commission President, promised that he would "create a separate portfolio for fundamental rights and civil liberties." Currently the commission has a justice, freedom and security commissioner, but critics have long argued that it is too broad to give enough attention to data protection issues as well as the pressing problem of immigration and the rights of migrants in member states.

For further information, please visit:European Commission

Second South Caucasus Youth Reproductive Health and Rights Forum in Batumi, Georgia.On 12-13 September, EPF and UNFPA Georgia organised the Second South Caucasus Youth Reproductive Health and Rights Forum, which took place in Batumi, Georgia. More than 70 participants gathered in Batumi to present the achievements in improving the situation of the reproductive health of young people and their access to services as a result of the three year EC/UNFPA Reproductive Health Initiative for Youth in South Caucasus, a partnership led by UNFPA with the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development, with the generous support of the European Commission. Through inter-country and country activities, the project has greatly contributed to the expansion of the sexual and reproductive health services in line with International Conference on Population and Development and Millennium Development Goals. Within the three years, 78 youth RH information and medical-information centres opened across the region; 1240 young peer educators received training and during the project duration already provided more than 40000 young people with information on their sexual and reproductive health and rights; over 2900 health care professionals received trainings on youth friendly reproductive health services and new legislative acts on reproductive health, family planning and healthy and harmonious education are in the process of development in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.


Spanish government approves abortion reforms. Spain's Socialist government approved reforms to the country's abortion law that was introduced in 1985, and only allows abortion in cases of rape, fetal malformation and when a pregnant woman's mental or physical health is deemed to be at risk if the pregnancy goes to term. Under the proposed reforms, abortions would be allowed for women of 16 and over on demand up to the 14th week of pregnancy, and up to 22 weeks if there is a risk to the mother's health or if the foetus is deformed. Women can also undergo the procedure after 22 weeks if the foetus has a serious or incurable illness. The proposal was passed at a cabinet meeting despite strong opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, the conservative opposition Popular Party and even many supporters of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist Party. The prime minister has passed a series of sweeping social reforms since coming to power in 2004 that have angered the Roman Catholic Church. He has pushed through legislation legalising gay marriage, allowing for fast-track divorces and giving increased rights to transsexuals, among other changes. The measure now will to go to the Parliament for approval.

Source:El Pais

Morning-after pill allowed to sell without prescription in Spain. Woman in Spain are now able to buy the morning after pill over the counter without needing a prescription - a decision which has angered pro-life groups. A law allowing pharmacies to sell the 'morning after pill' over the counter without a prescription was introduced in order to reduce teenage pregnancies. The pill is supposed to be sold in emergencies only and pharmacies are encouraged to hand out family-planning and sexual-health fliers to anyone buying it.

Source:El Pais


Creation of new UN gender equality entity. On 14th September 2009 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a crucial resolution on gender equality and women's rights. This resolution gives the go-ahead for the creation of a new United Nations agency that will be promoting women’s rights all over the world. Currently, there are four existing women's U.N. entities in the world body: the U.N. Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM); the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues; the U.N. Division for the Advancement of Women; and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW). None of them is as politically powerful and financially stable as full-fledged U.N. agencies. The global Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) Campaign has been working for years create a new U.N. agency for women. The resolution is an important and crucial step forward - now the new gender equality entity must be created and made operational without further delay!


12th session of the Human Rights Council (14 September – 2 October).12th time Human Rights Council gathered together UN officials, government representatives and NGOs to discus the most important issues concerning human rights. Council discussed the right to development, global food and financial crisis, rights of children in armed conflicts, as well as integration of gender perspective in the Council’s work. The draft resolution on the protection of human rights in the context of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) proposed by Brazil, and draft resolution on elimination of discrimination against women proposed by Mexico were presented to the Presidency. During the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session, the Council worked on UPR-reports from: Central African Republic, Monaco, Belize, Chad, Congo, Malta, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Chile, Viet Nam, Uruguay, Yemen, Vanuatu, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Comoros and Slovakia. All reports were accepted by countries and Council, although governments were making reservations, or refused to adopt some of the recommendations. This week was especially important for NGOs working on the field of human rights. UPR session gave them the opportunity to express their feelings and share their knowledge about level of human rights abidance in reported countries. Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning presented statements about Chile and Uruguay. Federation urged Chile to adopt the recommendation concerning assurance that women and girls have access to safe therapeutic abortion, and to protect transsexuals and women engaged in sex work. In statement regarding Uruguay Federation strongly urged the government to prioritize public policies aimed and youth, and the inclusion of sexual and reproductive rights in these policies. With cooperation with other NGOs, as Sexual Rights Initiatives (SRI), Federation had joined statements on Republic of Congo and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Source:Federation for Women and Family Planning.

ECDC publishes report on HIV and STI behavioural surveillance in Europe. An inventory of what has been done by EU and EFTA countries regarding behavioural surveillance related to HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) in eight subpopulations has been published by ECDC. The report is based on a survey conducted in EU/EFTA countries and results show impressive experience and considerable diversity in Europe, with 16 countries reporting having an established HIV/STI behavioural surveillance system. The most surveyed populations are the general population and youth, men who have sex with men and injecting drug users. Behavioural surveillance among sex workers and their clients, migrants and ethnic minorities, people living with HIV/AIDS and STI clinic patients is done in a few countries. It is suggested that the process on harmonisation of indicators should be continued to obtain more comparable results across countries and across subpopulations. It is further suggested that formalisation of a behavioural surveillance system at country level should be encouraged; this implies improving coordination between surveys and establishing links with the biological surveillance systems.Click to read the publication: ECDC.

New product will increase access to safe abortion care.Every year, millions of women around the world risk their lives with an unsafe abortion; nearly 70,000 will die, and millions will be hospitalized with complications. Even in countries where abortion is legally permitted, women still face barriers to safe abortion care – barriers such as knowledge, cost or distance. Improving access to safe abortion services is a public health imperative. Concept Foundation in Thailand has launched a new product, Medabon®, to provide women with a more affordable and accessible option for medical abortion. The product combines the medications commonly used in medical abortion, mifepristone and misoprostol, in a single package for the first time. The World Health Organization recommends this combination regimen as a preferred method of inducing abortion. A single package will give health-care providers, pharmacists and women confidence that they are using the right medicines in effective doses.


publications and resources

"A Practical Guide to Integrating Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS into Grant Proposals to the Global Fund". PAI Report: Integrating RH and HIV can greatly contribute to mitigating the AIDS pandemic by reducing unintended pregnancy; preventing perinatal transmission; expanding to more target groups; reducing gender based violence; meeting the needs of people living with HIV and providing our youth with the knowledge and services they need. This document, with links to a range of resources, will help CCMs, civil society organizations and others developing proposals for the Global Fund that contribute to preventing HIV and mitigating the effects of the AIDS pandemic through programs that link and integrate RH and HIV/AIDS.

Read the full report here:PAI

Study: EU surpasses US as top donor in population assistance. The German Foundation for World Population (DSW) and the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF)published their joint study Euromapping 2009. Mapping European Development Aid and Population Assistance report. According to the Euromapping 2009 report, in 2006 the EU spent nearly US$ 3 billion on population programmes and activities, increasing its aid by US$ 600 million. The US decreased its aid by nearly the same amount. To meet international commitments to provide universal access to reproductive health by 2015, donors must triple their financial support for population activities over the next four years.

More information, graphic material and the Euromapping study report in English, French and German are available online at:EUROMAPPING

Council of Europe Handbook for Parliamentarians. Parliaments United in Combating Domestic Violence Against Women. This handbook is a practical tool for parliamentarians. It sets out practical ideas for elected representatives who want to back the campaign and help fight the scourge of domestic violence against women. It comprises an overview of the problem, questions and answers, good practices for parliaments and a select bibliography of Council of Europe work regarding his matter.

Direct Link to Publication:CoE

upcoming events

Exhibition: Sanja Iveković. Practice Makes the Master.The first Polish exhibition of one of the most important European women artists brings together a selection of works made from 1974–2007 as well as the project Women’s House (Sunglasses), which appears in a number of Polish cities in the form of a poster. Ivekovic’s art has been always committed to defense of women’s rights. Women’s House (Sunglasses) project is a collaboration with Federation For Women and Family Planning, and tackles the problem of restrictive anti-abortion law in Poland.

Link: Art Museum Łódź

Through her Eyes: Renewing Commitment to Equality, Peace and Development"- The 2010 NGO Global Forum for Women: Beijing +15.2010 marks the 15th anniversary of the Beijing World Conference on Women. In recognition of this anniversary, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, NY is organizing an NGO Global Women’s Forum to consider implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA).The Forum will take place on February 27 and 28, 2010 in New York, USA. This Forum immediately precedes the 54th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which will also undertake a 15–year review and appraisal of the BPfA.

The Newsletter is available NGOCSW

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.This year’s theme for the 16 Days Campaign is Commit ▪ Act ▪ Demand: We CAN End Violence Against Women! CWGL dedicates the 2009 campaign to honoring groups and individuals who have committed to bringing VAW to the forefront of global attention, to encouraging everyone in their various capacities to take action to end VAW, and to demanding accountability for all of the promises made to eliminate VAW.

More: CWGL

The European Development Days, Stockholm, Sweden, on 22-24 October 2009.The European Development Days are a yearly event hosted jointly by the European Commission and the EU Presidency.The European Development Days bring some 4 000 people and 1 500 organisations from the development community together on an equal footing. Delegates from 125 countries are represented, including heads of state and leading world figures, Nobel prizewinners among them.The event aims to make development aid more effective, to build a global coalition against poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Through frank and sometimes controversial debates on pressing issues, such as governance, poverty and environmental sustainability, the European Development Days provide unprecedented opportunities for sharing ideas and launching innovative partnerships.

More: European Development Days

UNECE: Beijing +15 Regional Review Meeting.On 2-3 November, UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) will hold a Beijing +15 Regional Review Meeting in Geneva. To read more about “New challenges and opportunities for gender equality in the ECE region: key issues and policy responses” meeting go to:

More: UN