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CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights

No 08 (87) 2010

Table of contents:

burning issue

18th International AIDS conference Vienna 18-23 July, 2010. The bi-annual international AIDS conference was held in Vienna. 25,000 participants representing all stakeholders in the global response to HIV met to assess progress and identify future priorities. HIV/AIDS is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide, claiming an estimated two million lives in 2008 alone. Of the 33.4 million individuals living with HIV, 31.3 million are adults and half of them are women. Globally, women and men are affected by HIV and AIDS in almost equal numbers. However the proportion of women living with HIV is increasing. Young women constitute a growing share of new infections, representing about two-thirds of all new cases among people between the age of 15 and 24. In 2009, the World Health Organization reported that HIV was the leading cause of death of women between 15 years and 44 years in low and middle income countries. It is estimated that more than 90 percent of the 1.7 million women living with HIV in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia became infected from their husbands or partners they were involved with in long-term relationships. Women, experts say, are often unaware of their male partner's sexual habits outside the relationship. According to the message of the latest AIDS conference, affected women should be recognised as key stakeholders in the AIDS response. Further, democratic and transparent processes should be ensured to represent HIV positive women in civil society bodies and community-based organisations. A point on which all participants agreed is that women’s issues certainly need to be a much larger part of the official program of the next International AIDS Conference to be held in Washington, DC (22-27 July 2012). ASTRA Network delegates participated in the conference, please find below highlights related to our participation in the conference: • We welcomed the news about new, effective microbicide to prevent HIV transmission. In a potential breakthrough that opens a new way to protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, researchers found that a gel applied by women before and after sex cut the chance of acquiring the AIDS virus by 39% and the genital herpes virus by 51%. The gel contains antiretroviral drug Tenofovir, which is usually taken as a tablet by HIV patients. Tenofovir gel is an advanced second-generation HIV-specific microbicide that neither tries to kill the AIDS virus nor block it from entering the body as its predecessors. Instead, it is designed to prevent the virus from replicating when it comes in contact with an uninfected T-cell. Tenofovir gel could fill an important HIV prevention gap by empowering women who are unable to successfully negotiate mutual faithfulness or condom use with their male partners. Moreover, tenofovir gel has a potential dual effect in preventing HIV. Since women with genital herpes are much more likely to become infected with HIV, the additional protection of tenofovir gel against herpes creates a second mechanism whereby the gel may have a bigger impact in preventing HIV. • During Women ARISE! (an international coalition of Women’s NGOs and networks) session on women and girls “How to Guarantee Women's and Girls' Sexual and Reproductive Rights in the HIV/AIDS Response?”, audience members chose issues of women’s rights they wished to see in focus during the conference week. The responses reflected a diversity of concerns: the situation of lesbians vis-à-vis the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the visibility of HIV-positive women from Eastern and Central Europe, availability of female condoms worldwide, the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of women – especially young women and women living with HIV, the use of law to promote and protect women’s rights, policies and programs for comprehensive education on sexuality and SRHR, and the need to ensure sufficient funding to enable women’s voices to be taken more seriously. • ASTRA Network Panel: “Fighting Gender Stereotypes in order to Overcome HIV/AIDS in Central and Eastern Europe”. ASTRA Network panel discussion with participation of representatives of ASTRA member organizations from Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, , Poland, Russia, and Ukraine was opportunity to assess how specific social and economic contexts impact on demand, access, use and quality of health services and programmes for women living with HIV/AIDS in Central and Eastern Europe. Special attention was drawn to human rights’ role in shaping response to HIV/AIDS. We discussed (1) the principles such as the participation of affected communities and non-discrimination in shaping and delivering policies and programmes; (2) gender mainstreaming strategies to mitigate the effects of HIV-related problems for women; (3) role of transformative planning, as well as attitudinal and behavioural changes in addressing gender inequality and HIV/AIDS. • UNIFEM and ATHENA, a network to fight AIDS, released a new report highlighting how despite international commitments, HIV positive women's participation and voices are largely missing from decision-making processes in the fight against HIV and AIDS. The report titled 'Transforming the National AIDS Response: Advancing Women's Leadership and Participation' also identifies strategies that can be adopted to advance the involvement of HIV positive women, and highlights the importance of effective participation of women, especially HIV positive women, in being part of the solutions and in finding sustainable, effective strategies to address HIV and AIDS."

ASTRA network’s statement regarding empowerment of women and girls living with HIV/AIDS in Central and Eastern Europe is now available on our website: ASTRA Network

To watch the video recording of the Women Arise! session ”How to Guarantee Women's and Girls' Sexual and Reproductive Rights in the HIV/AIDS Response?” go to: Women ARISE!

More information on the event can be found at: AIDS2010

regional updates

Beginning of the Belgian Presidency of the EU Council.The Presidency Trio of Spain, Belgium and Hungary is the first to work under the new Lisbon Treaty. Spain started the 18-month rotating Presidency by running it from January to June 2010. Belgium assumes now the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) until December 2010 and precedes Hungary. The current Presidency is marked by the desire to ensure a continuation of the work done under the Spanish Presidency. A pledge was made to continue making progress in the struggle against discrimination and for equality. The issue of equality takes a significant place in the six-month programme. The promotion and protection of human rights is also considered as a priority. The programme entails references to topics closely linked to equality and anti-discrimination such as: European Union’s adoption of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities; the issue of age is omnipresent, especially in the light of changing demographics; the proposal for a directive concerning the implementation of measures aimed at promoting the improved health and safety of pregnant workers, those having given birth, or those breastfeeding at work; universal access to quality healthcare, homelessness and the prevention of poverty; ensure that the Council adopts the conclusions on the basis of the communication by the Commission relating to the new strategy on equality between men and women (2011-2015). In addition, the Council will adopt conclusions concerning equality of salaries between men and women within the context of the implementation of the Beijing action plan (UN Conference 1995).

More: Belgian Presidency

Birth Rate is the Highest in EU for Second Year.New figures show the rate of births here -- at 16.8 children born per 1,000 people -- was the highest in the European Union. The report from Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency, says the rate was 17 per 1,000 the previous year -- also the highest in the EU. The high birth rate kept the overall population growth at 0.13pc. Birth rates in the UK and France placed them second and third in the EU. The EU's total population grew by 1.4m in 2009 to 501.1m. The experience here is the opposite of Germany, the EU's largest economy, where the birth rate was 7.9 per 1,000 last year and the total population declined 0.25pc to below 82m for the first time in at least 10 years.

More: Eurostat

European Institute for Gender Equality Officially Opens in Vilnius.The European Institute for Gender Equality or EIGE is a new EU Agency which supports the EU Institutions and Member States in promoting gender equality, fighting discrimination based on sex and raising awareness about gender issues. EIGE collects and analyses data on gender issues and develops practical tools, especially to include the perspective and needs of women and men in policy areas, to encourage and exchange best practices and dialogue among interested parties, and to raise awareness on equality between women and men among EU citizens. EIGE is based in Vilnius, Lithuania, and officially opened June 20, 2010.

Source: EIGE

MEP Veronique de Keyser urges the European Union to ensure health is a priority.Socialist MEP De Keyser discussed the findings of her recent report “Health care systems in sub-Saharan Africa” during the latest Development Committee meeting of the European Parliament (EP). The report points out that “women have the right to exercise full control over matters relating to their reproductive health”. During the committee meeting Ms. De Keyser urged the EU to make health a greater priority in its development cooperation, saying: “It's not a question of ideology but of saving human lives.”.

The full report can be found at:European Parliament


European Parliament (EP) adopts resolution on a rights-based approach to the EU's response to HIV/AIDS. The resolution which was adopted with an overwhelming majority came at a timely moment ahead of the XVIII International Vienna AIDS Conference, and the United Nations MDG Summit in September. The resolution recognizes that “women and girls continue to be affected disproportionately by HIV/AIDS, with women accounting for approximately 60% of HIV/AIDS infections in sub-Saharan Africa and HIV/AIDS still being the leading cause of death and illness in women of reproductive age.”.

The resolution can be found at:European Parliament

New UN Agency for Women. The UN has reformed its gender architecture with the creation of a new gender entity – known as UN Women - in a bid to accelerate the empowerment of women. This entity merges four UN offices focusing on gender equality (UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, the Division for the Advancement of Women, and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) resulting with a stronger, more unified voice on for women and for gender equality at the global level. UN Women will formally come into being in January 2011.

The resolution can be found at:UN.

Familiar Pledges on Child and Maternal Health in Africa. The 15th summit of the African Union ended with a commitment to pay greater attention to maternal, newborn and child health. African leaders agreed that Africa will not be able to meet the Millennium Development Goal on infant and maternal health if more resources are not made available. They again committed to allocating their own resources by fulfilling promises made in the 2001 Abuja Declaration to spend 15 percent of national budgets on health, and by exploring public private partnerships. Further, the AU appealed to donors who will meet in an October 2010 meeting of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to extend the fund's support to child and maternal health. The additional money is to be spent on strengthening public health systems with a focus on primary health care, family planning, improving infrastructure and training of more community health workers. It was also agreed to end out-of-pocket payments including user fees for pregnant women and children under five years.


Gender Equality Position Paper by the World AIDS Campaign. The purpose of this paper is to share with its stakeholders, including constituencies, partners, policy makers and donors, the ideas, commitments and standards of the World AIDS Campaign in relation to promoting gender equality, women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Read the paper.

Link:World AIDS Campaign

The AIDS Accountability Scorecard on Women 2009. The AIDS Accountability Scorecard on Women is the first-ever independent assessment of how well governments respond to the specific needs and vulnerabilities of women in the context of the AIDS epidemic. It is a comprehensive review of successful HIV programming for women and girls spanning 2,000 articles and reports with data from more than 90 countries.

Direct Link to Full 25-Page Report:AIDS Accountability

Medical abortion training guide: Using medicines for first-trimester pregnancy termination. The Ipas Medical Abortion (MA) Training Program is intended to help train clinicians on the use of first-trimester MA.


Medical abortion in early pregnancy: Information, education and communication (IEC) materials and job aids. Information package on medical abortion that can be adapted for use with health workers, women, pharmacists and others who may support women in learning about and using medical abortion, from the clinic to the community level.

To request a copy of the CD, which contains a collection of image files used in these materials, please write to medicalabortion@ipas.org.

Abortion and young people. The brochure by Ipas and Youth Incentives was developed in consultation with young people and organizations that work with young people in 33 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Based on needs identified by the young people themselves, it covers a range of issues related to abortion.


upcoming events

Sexuality under 18. How the social environment influences sexual development. This conference will take place on 11 and 12 October 2010 in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. World Population Foundation and Youth Incentives, the international programme on sexuality of the Rutgers Nisso Groep, are the organisers of this conference.

For more information:WPF

AWID Young Women’s Dialogue on Resource Mobilization and Movement Building in the SEE/CEE/CIS Region on October 19th – 20th 2010 in Tbilisi, Georgia. Berlin, Germany, October 10-13, 2010. Registration is now open for participants of the World Health Summit. The World Health Summit will bring together high-profile representatives from medicine, research, governments, industry, international institutions, and non-governmental organizations, to address the most pressing issues that medicine and health care systems will face over the next decade and beyond. Their aim is to develop cogent and timely responses and solutions to achieve better health for populations worldwide.

Please click here to go to the application form:AWID