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CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights

No 06 (85) 2010

Table of contents:

burning issue

Two-Thirds of Young People With HIV Are Girls. Young women are suffering disproportionately from HIV and AIDS. Two-thirds of the 5.5m people aged 15-24 living with HIV are female. The biggest difference among the sexes is in sub-Saharan Africa, home to 3.4m of young HIV sufferers, where young females are around three times more likely to have HIV than males. Girls are more at risk through poor education, having multiple sexual partners or having sex with older men. Elsewhere in the developing world, it is young men who are more likely to have HIV. According to the newest report from UNICEF UK, insufficient attention is being given to preventing the transmission of HIV among young people under the age of 25. The report marks the launch of UNICEF UK’s ‘We want to live free from HIV’ campaign, which aims to raise £2 million for HIV prevention and remind governments of the importance of effective HIV prevention amongst young people. Statistics in today’s report reveal that girls and young women remain far more vulnerable to HIV infection than young men, with two-thirds of the 5.5 million 15- and 24-year-olds with HIV worldwide being women. The majority of these young people still lack comprehensive and correct information about how to prevent HIV infection, or do not have the power to act on that knowledge.

Source: UNICEF

regional updates

Russia - Illegal Abortion Widespread.Every year 1.2 million Russian women deliberately terminate pregnancy and 30,000 of them become sterile, many from the estimated 180,000 illegal abortions. Russian law permits abortions up to the 12th week of pregnancy. If woman is suffering from tuberculosis or mental illness she is permitted to terminate a pregnancy later than 12 weeks. There is also a variety of social factors, which permit women to perform an abortion up to the 22nd week of pregnancy, including rape, imprisonment and poverty, and death or severe disability of the result of illegal abortions, but according to investigators, there were just 28 cases opened into illegal abortions in 2009. The figure was 27 in 2008, and over those two years less than 10 cases made it to court.

Source: Ria Novosti

Georgia - Gender Equality Law Adopted.The Parliament of Georgia passed a Gender Equality Law. The legislation provides for the establishment of a national women’s machinery, the enhancement of women’s security, equality in the labour market and the strengthening of women’s political participation. The law also introduces gender-responsive planning and budgeting on the part of the government. The new Gender Equality Law builds on the State Concept for Gender Equality, adopted in 2006, and has been in development since 2008.

Source: IWPR

Cut in Spanish Official Development Aid.The Spanish Government announced several measures to reduce the public deficit which has dramatically increased during the current economic crisis. One of the measures introduced has been a 600 million EUR cut in Spanish Official Development Aid. There will be a 300 million EUR cut in 2010 and a further 300 million EUR reduction in 2011. With an ODA budget for 2010 of 5.19 billion EUR this means a 5.8 percent reduction this year. Despite significant improvements in Spanish ODA in recent years, which has grown from 0.23 percent in 2004 to 0.47 percent in 2009, the announcement of a reduction in ODA is a clear sign that the Spanish Government will not keep his promise of reaching 0.7% of GNI for 2012.

More: The Global Herald

European Union Development Ministers adopt Council conclusions on the EU’s Role in Global Health.The Development Ministers of the 27 EU member states, in their biannual session in the framework of the Foreign Affairs Council, adopted Council conclusions on the ‘The EU’s Role in Global Health’. The conclusions are part of the overall process of establishing the EU position for the MDG High Level Plenary Meeting to be held in New York this September. The Council recognizes ‘women’s rights to have control over, and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexual and reproductive health’, and strongly reaffirms ‘the linkage between HIV/AIDS policies and programmes and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) policies and services.

The full text can be retrieved at:Council of the European Union

Kyrgyzstan - Issues Over The Veil. Islamic veil and fundamentalism are back in Bishkek The rising tide of fundamentalism is causing a number of social problems. In a country that is 80 per cent Muslim, strict adherence to Islamic rules is making a comeback with women forced to wear hijab. However, in the workplace, many employers have banned the veil and this has created a controversy. In any event, women are the first to pay for the situation.

Source:Asia News

UNFPA continues assisting Uzbekistan in combating cervical cancer.Cervical cancer is one of the leading reasons of morbidity and mortality in women of reproductive age in Uzbekistan. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Uzbekistan on 19-23 April supported the initiative of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan and a number of international organizations on organizing the Second National Conference on Cervical Cancer. The event brought together experts in oncology, obstetrics and gynecology as well as specialists from provincial health departments to make conclusions on introduction of cervical cancer screening in the country, discuss challenges and lessons learnt with regard to the process; and plan further large-scale interventions on reproductive system cancer prevention.

Source:UzReport (Uzbekistan)

Ponton Group of Sex Educators to Launch Its Summer Mobile Hotline for Fifth Time. Volunteers from the Polish Group of Sex Educators have been one of the first organizations to set up a mobile hotline for teenagers five years ago. The aim of the project is to provide information and counselling on sexuality, contraception and HIV prevention to adolescents during two summer months of July and August. It is the time when many young people go on vacation and initiate their first sexual contacts. Often they find themselves in trouble when a condom breaks, sometimes they fall victim of sexual violence. Being away from home, they may not have access to Internet or landline phones. Every afternoon Ponton volunteers answer phone calls and respond to text messages for three hours. Every year the number of questions is higher, sometimes educators solve as many as 100 problems a day. When the project ends Ponton team prepares a report analyzing major topics of concern for young people.



PEPFAR Increases Commitment For Gender Based Responses. PEPFAR has committed $US 30 million to scale up gender-based violence prevention and response efforts in three countries. The announcement is a positive step in PEPFAR’s overall commitment to increase its focus on the unique risk factors faced by women and girls. This new scaled up multi-sector response promises to improve the lives of women and girls living in the focus countries, and will hopefully expand these gender based violence interventions in other countries in order to ensure more effective responses to the HIV epidemic worldwide.

To see the full PEPFAR Press Statement go to:PEPFAR

The International Day of the Midwife. The UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid and Secretary-General of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Agneta S. Bridges marked the International Day of the Midwife on 5 May. Each year, hundreds of thousands of women die and three million newborns do not survive the first week of life because they lack access to maternity health services and skilled midwifery care. For every tragic maternal death, another 20 women face serious or long-lasting illness or disabilities such as obstetric fistula. On the International Day of the Midwife, the International Confederation of Midwives and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, are calling on the governments of the world to urgently address The UNFPA and ICM point out that midwives can prevent up to 90% of maternal deaths where they are authorized to practice their competencies and play a full role during pregnancy, childbirth and after birth. They have a critical role in providing family planning, counselling, and preventing HIV transmission from mother to child. As the world gears up for the 10-year review of the Millennium Development Goals, both organizations will be campaigning to increase funding for goals 4, 5 and 6 to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and combat HIV and AIDS.


European Commission presents Draft Budget 2011 – 65 Million EUR for Millennium Development Goals.In his presentation to the Budget Committee of the European Parliament (EP), EU Commissioner for financial programming and budget, Janusz Lewandowski, outlined the main points of the EU draft budget 2011. A major commitment of new aid allocations was made under the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), where an additional amount of 65 million EUR is to reinforce the EU pledge at the UN summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The two arms of the EU’s budgetary authority, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament, are expected to adopt their positions on the Commission’s proposal on the draft budget in June and October respectively.

For more information, visit here for Commissioner Lewandowski’s presentation:European Commission.

EU-US re-launches their dialogue on development. After an inactive 12-year period, the EU-US development dialogue which outlines cooperation between the world’s two largest donors of aid was re-launched in Washington by Development Commissioner Piebalgs and USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah. Three areas of action have been identified: food security, climate change and the Millennium Development Goals. During the meeting, the EU and the US agreed on three roadmaps for cooperation in the next two years including the ‘Roadmap on the Millennium Development Goals in 2010-2011’. This roadmap states that there should be ‘coordination and collaboration on respective Gender Equality policy and action plans, since maintaining and even accelerating progress in gender equality and women's empowerment remains essential to the overall MDG effort.’.

More :European Commission.

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Report to be voted on in the European Parliament (EP) Development Committee (DEVE).The report entitled ‘Progress towards the achievement of the MDGs: midterm review in preparation of the UN high-level meeting in September 2010’ includes a specific section on priority MDG targets, notably for the health MDGs. The EP DEVE Committee will vote on the report and the text will be sent to the Plenary for a final vote on 15 June. The report calls on ‘all Member States and the Commission to reverse the worrying decline in funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights in developing countries and to support policies on family planning, abortion, treatment of sexual diseases and provision of condoms’.

The report can be retrieved at:European Parliament.

Human Rights in the EU.The latest Human Rights Report was presented to foreign affairs ministers on 10 May by Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and chair of the Foreign Affairs Council. The report gives an overview of the wide range of EU activities to promote human rights worldwide, covering the period from July 2008 to December 2009. Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are core values of the European Union. Not only are they part of the EU's identity, but the Union also has a vocation to bring them to its external relations. The report covers thematic issues, such as freedom of thought and human rights of women, as well as the Union's action on human rights in various countries. For example, during the report period, the EU provided over € 235 million in funding for 900 projects of non-governmental organisations in some 100 countries. It also spoke out for the protection of human rights at the United Nations and other international fora, and increased the number of human rights dialogues it conducts with non-EU countries. At present, the EU's agreements with more than 120 countries include a human rights clause, which gives the possibility of re-examining the agreement in the event of serious breaches of human rights.

For further information go to:The European Council.

New World Bank Reproductive Action Plan: More Condoms, Contraceptives, Midwives, and Educated Girls Could Prevent Most Maternal Deaths.The World Bank released a new five-year plan to help poor countries reduce their high fertility rates and prevent the widespread deaths of their mothers and children. In endorsing its Reproductive Health Action Plan 2010-2015, the Bank warned that family planning and other reproductive health programs that are vital to poor women had fallen off the development radars of many low-income countries, donor governments, and aid agencies. With 2010 marking the start of the five-year countdown to the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), many countries are far from achieving MDG 5, which calls for a drop in the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015—equivalent to an annual decrease of about 5.5 percent—and increased access to universal reproductive health care by 2015. Against this target, the current global average rate of reduction is under 1 percent—only 0.1 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, where levels of mortality are the highest—and at the present rate of progress, the world will fall well short of achieving this MDG.Under its new health action plan, the Bank will help 58 countries with high maternal death and fertility rates, which have remained stubbornly high for some years, improve their reproductive health systems by stressing the following points: More Contraception―More Frequent Antenatal Visits―Spread Preventive Knowledge―Train New Health Workers.

For further information visit:World Bank.

Ivan Šimonovic appointed ASG in UN Human Rights Office in New York.The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Monday announced the appointment by Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon of Ivan Šimonovic as Assistant Secretary-General to head the High Commissioner’s New York office. He is the first person to hold the new post, which was approved by the General Assembly in December 2009.Mr. Šimonovic has extensive experience in the fields of international development, human rights, peace building and development of national institutions, which he has addressed at the political and academic levels. Mr. Šimonovic has been Minister of Justice of the Republic of Croatia since 2008, after previously serving as Assistant Minister and Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was the Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York for six years, and served as the Senior Vice-President and President of ECOSOC from 2001 to 2003. Throughout his twenty-year career, he has actively engaged in various human-rights-related activities both as a legal expert as well as a diplomat.



Monitoring Report on Domestic Violence Law in Albania. Three years after Albania adopted the Law on Measures against Violence in Family Relations (Domestic Violence Law), Amnesty International has issued a report evaluating the impact of the law. The report, Ending Domestic Violence in Albania: The Next Steps, contains recommendations for the Albanian government to better protect victims of domestic violence. Amnesty found that the introduction of the law and the subsequent establishment of special police units dealing with domestic violence in major urban centers empowered many women to report domestic violence for the first time; however, domestic violence continues to be underreported, particularly in rural areas, and more women continue to turn to NGOs than to police. According to Amnesty's report, police officers in Albania do not have adequate training or resources to enforce protection orders, and often fail to initiate criminal proceedings against abusers who violate protection orders, even though criminal sanctions for violation of protection orders are provided in the law. Some judges are also reluctant to order the abusive partner to leave the family home because of scarce housing and low incomes; therefore, these judges frequently order the abuser and the victim to live in different parts of the same apartment. The report cites a dire need for shelters and lack of economic independence as factors which make it harder for women to leave violent relationships. Amnesty has recommended that the Albanian government criminalize domestic violence, guarantee free legal representation to domestic violence victims, and continue training police, prosecutors and judges to ensure effective enforcement of protection orders.

More:Amnesty International

Implants Toolkit. Hormonal implants are gaining popularity among a broad range of women wanting to time, space, or limit future pregnancies. As the number of such products grows, so does the need for a thorough, detailed resource devoted to them. The Implants Toolkit offers professionals around the world quick and easy access to information on programming and policy considerations relevant to hormonal implants—information that has been reviewed by expert panels and is housed in one convenient location.

It can be downloaded from:The Implants Toolkit

Link Between Domestic Violence & Reproductive Coercion/Control - new study. Reproductive control – when a partner imposes his reproductive intentions through intimidation, threats or actual violence – is a common problem for women who experience intimate partner violence, according to a new study released by the Guttmacher Institute. Three in four respondents (74 percent) in the new study – of 71 domestic violence victims seeking services at a family planning clinic, an abortion clinic and a domestic violence shelter – reported that their partners had threatened to get them pregnant, forced them to have unprotected sex, sabotaged or interfered with their contraception, threatened them with sexual intercourse, tried to control the outcome of their pregnancies if they became pregnant, or in other ways tried to coerce their reproductive outcomes. These abusive behaviors can lead to unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and a host of other problems.

Direct Link to Study Report:Guttmacher Institute

Funding Common Ground: Cost Estimates for International Reproductive Health – new report. There are over a dozen estimates of the financial resources needed to improve reproductive health used by the reproductive health community. Lack of understanding of estimates currently in circulation can lead to fragmented advocacy and weak financial prioritization of reproductive health. Population Action International is releasing a report, Funding Common Ground: Cost Estimates for International Reproductive Health to help advocates and policymakers better understand the funding needed to achieve the ICPD and MDG goal of universal access to reproductive health. A clear sense of financial requirements is essential to carry out policy advocacy and plan to fulfill unmet needs.

For the full report, please visit:PAI

upcoming events

Migration in the context of Globalization: Women´s Human Rights at risk. WIDE´s 2010 Annual Conference “Migration in the context of Globalization: Women´s Human Rights at risk” will be hosted by AUR (Karat Coalition member organization) in Bucharest on 4 and 5 June, 2010 and co-organised with KARAT coalition. The conference is co-organised with the Ministry of Administration and Interior of Romania (MAI). This year´s conference marks the 25th anniversary of WIDE and will be preceded, on 3 June, by an International Capacity Building day.

For more information visit:WIDE

call for papers

Gender & Development: Migration.The March 2011 issue of the international journal Gender & Development, (published for Oxfam GB by Routledge/Taylor and Francis) will focus on Migration. Gender & Development invites articles from development practitioners working from a gender perspective: snalysing and researching the experiences of migrants and their loved ones; understanding rural to urban links in livelihoods; supporting and advocating for the rights of women and men who have undergone forced migration; tracking how change occurs in gender relations as a result of migration. Closing Date for Proposals: 14 June 2010.

To read the full call for papers, please follow the link: OXFAM

action alert

Gear Campaign Petition - UN Gender Equality Architecture Reform.In mid June, GEAR Campaign representatives will present a petition to "Make the United Nations more effective in realizing women’s rights" to the United Nations President of the General Assembly, H.E. Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki. If you have not already signed on, please do so before June 10th when the petition will close. Also, please disseminate widely to your networks and constituencies.

Amnesty International Website Link for Petition: PETITION