arvan's picture

Abstinence-Only Education Shouldn't Make the Cut

[via NOW]

Abstinence-only education is dangerous and ineffective, and has no place in our health care reform legislation.  But Senator Orrin Hatch's (R-Utah) abstinence-only-until-marriage amendment has been tucked in with the health care reform legislation -- and we need your help to strike it when it reaches Senate floor.  Women everywhere need the Senate to support comprehensive sex education programs, not ideological crusades.

Take action NOW!

Please take time now to call or e-mail your senators to urge that the Hatch abstinence-only-until-marriage amendment be eliminated from health care reform legislation, and that they strongly support a comprehensive approach to sex education.

Two amendments regarding sex education were passed with the health care reform legislation in the Senate Finance Committee: one by Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) authorizing federal funding for comprehensive sex education programs and one by Sen. Hatch to restore funds for abstinence-only programs.

When health care reform legislation reaches the Senate floor, we need to ensure Congress only supports a comprehensive approach to sex education and does not promote dangerous and ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that put young women and girls at serious risk.  In contacting your senators, you can use our formatted message or create one in your own words.

LaPrincipessa's picture

Empower and Educate Women and Girls

Now, this is something I can get with.

I spend a lot of energy whining about sports and men and inequality; rarely do I write about solutions.  Real solutions, not theoretical ideas that exist outside of our current social landscape.  "Half the Sky" by Nicholas kristof and Sheryl Wudunn does exactly this.  The central theme: educate females and see economies prosper all over the globe.  From their website, "the best way to fight poverty and extremism is to educate and empower women and girls".

arvan's picture

HIV-positive children "missing" from health system

BAMAKO, 14 October 2009 (IRIN) - Parents are supposed to outlive their children, or so thought the grandmothers sitting in the children's playroom at Gabriel Touré hospital in Bamako, capital of Mali. They had all lost their children to AIDS-related illnesses, and met each other when they brought their HIV-positive grandchildren on hospital visits.

"I borrow, I beg - what else can I do? I am the only one willing to take care of him," said Mouta Tounkara, 61, speaking of her orphaned grandson who started HIV treatment in January 2008.

Aminata Soumaoro told IRIN that when her daughter died three months into the pregnancy, the newborn girl barely survived, but not her gravely ill father. "I did not want to care for this premature child, but it is easier now because she is grown."

She pointed to the 9-year-old girl. "I already lost my daughter; I do not want to lose her as well." Soumaoro used to travel between villages selling charcoal but had switched to agriculture because of poor sales.

Up to 60 percent of the children receiving HIV treatment at the hospital had lost one or both parents and were often shuttled among caretakers, said Anta Koita, one of two full-time paediatricians specializing in HIV care.

arvan's picture

Teenage sex study shock for parents

By Joy Wanja

Girls as young as 12 are selling their bodies for petty things such as mobile phone airtime, chips and even sanitary pads.

And many are opting not to use protection, even though they are fully aware of the dangers of unsafe sex.

They are also sleeping with different partners: Some admitted having as many as six sexual partners in six months. What’s more, they’re spending almost as much energy keeping their actions secret from parents and guardians, a new survey revealed on Tuesday.

Instead, they prefer to get and share information about their increasingly risky sexual behaviour with friends, says the study by the Centre for the Study of Adolescence.

The study was carried out in two phases, one in June 2008 and the other in May 2009.

The figures revealed at least half of students surveyed had engaged in unprotected sex at least once.

arvan's picture

Call for Nominations: GWWI 2010 W. African Women & Water Prog.

THE GWWI 2010 West Africa Women and Water Program is a joint initiative of organizations A Single Drop, Crabgrass, Women’s Earth Alliance and is held in partnership with WaterAid Ghana.

The 2010 West Africa Program will include a week-long training to be held near Accra, Ghana in late February, 2010.  Attendees will create and commit to specific action plans for the year following the training. The GWWI team will provide seed funding and follow-up support for each team to implement a water project in their communities.

Those selected as GWWI participants will participate in 3 phases of work: Preparation, Training, and Follow-up/Implementation. 

arvan's picture

Brothers are doing it for themselves

JOHANNESBURG, 8 October 2009 (PlusNews) - In the context of sub-Saharan Africa's HIV/AIDS epidemic, women have often been characterized as the victims and men as the perpetrators incapable of sticking to one partner or taking responsibility for their sexual health.

But what if men were victims of the social norms that define masculinity as much as women? And what if they were willing to change, and persuade other men to do the same?

Speakers at the MenEngage Africa Symposium in Johannesburg, South Africa, this week have been debating ways to help men achieve this and to become part of the solution to the continent's twin epidemics of gender-based violence and HIV.

"When we talk about a feminized epidemic, we make the mistake of leaving men out of interventions," commented Mandla Ndlovu, programme officer of the recently launched "Brothers for Life" campaign.

The initiative by Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa (JHHESA), USAID and the Sonke Gender Justice Network aims to spark a movement of "good" men to encourage their peers to take more responsibility for their health and that of their partners.

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Hate Mail At Last: a Concerned Parent Writes In about my Sex-Positive Film Series

Hello blogosphere! I know I’ve been scarce of late. My Internet access is limited and when I can get it, there are often problems (for instance, it can be expensive; sex-positive sites may be blocked by overzealous porn filters; etc). I’m settling into my HIV/AIDS work here in Africa and it’s going well, but I’m still parsing out my thoughts about … well, everything. I’ve been working on some written pieces that I definitely intend to post online, but I’m not sure whether they’ll go here on my blog, or elsewhere. Stay tuned — if I post them elsewhere, then I’ll certainly announce it here.

I have, of course, been following the progress of my beloved sex-positive film series as best I could. The final film screening, “We Are Dad” — about gay adoption — is just around the corner on October 13th. That is, the final film in the original program that I curated … but I am thrilled to report that Sex+++ has gathered a crowd of such amazing, dedicated people that it’s likely to continue past my final curation date! I’ve been tracking the dialogue at a distance; there’s a committee working on continuing the series even now, and although my heart breaks to realize that I’ll be missing more incredible films and discussions, I am also so so so very proud that we created something that struck such a chord. (If you’re interested in being in on the continued progress of the series, go ahead and email Lisa Junkin [ ljunkin at uic dot edu ].)

I was always a little surprised that Sex+++ didn’t get more negative attention. When starting it, I was very cautious … I walked on eggshells, really. I believed and continue to believe that comprehensive sex education is necessary for everyone, that adult sex education is a vital step forward, and that sexuality is an important academic topic. But public sexuality is such bitterly contested ground in American culture, I thought for sure that someone would attack a series that’s open, honest and positive about everything from BDSM to sex on videotape.

It took longer than I thought, but it finally happened. A few weeks ago, this arrived in my inbox. It was copied to a number of people at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, the series venue, as well as administrators of the University of Illinois at Chicago (where the museum is located):

Dear UIC and Jane Addams administrators: 

arvan's picture

The Power to Empower: Innovation to Transform Women’s Lives

In a new, groundbreaking study, International Center for Research on Women examines how cutting-edge innovations can transform women’s lives. The ICRW report analyzes how a variety of innovations that used technology, changed social norms and strengthened economic vitality helped women.

Researchers identified seven core approaches – or levers – needed for any innovation to create meaningful change for women.
They include:

  • Creating strategic partnerships among governments, the private sector and civil society.
  • Including women in the design and implementation of innovative ideas.
  • Having committed support from governments as well as efforts at the grassroots level.

ICRW’s findings come at a critical moment.

Social, political and economic shifts globally are creating a perfect storm for innovations to benefit and potentially empower women. Take foot-pedaled water pumps. In sub-Saharan Africa, women in rural communities traditionally are responsible for collecting water to irrigate the crops that feed their families and that sell in markets. It can be a time- and labor-consuming effort.

arvan's picture

Ethnic Minorities More Gender Divided in VietNam

By Helen Clark

CAO BANG, Vietnam, Oct 2 (IPS) - A drunk man slaps his wife, she hits the ground and the audience of mainly women laughs.  At a question and answer session that follows in Tay, one of the many ethnic minority languages, women stand up to talk at length about why husbands shouldn't hit their wives and why, as women, they deserve equal respect.

The open-air show at a weekly market in northern Cao Bang province is Vietnam government- and NGO-sponsored propaganda for minorities like the Tay.  It has been created with the aim of informing far-flung communities of the country's law against domestic violence and to help improve gender relations here.

Plays with a message are rare in this communist country.  Usually commune-level officials read out government directives, in Vietnamese, to bored audiences.  Many ethnic groups such as the H'Mong and Dao, especially the women, are not fluent in Vietnamese.

In 2006, an Italian non-governmental organisation (NGO) Gruppo de Volontariato Civile used theatre as a means of communication for the first time in Vietnam.  The concept has been repackaged as a 'gender caravan' now by Swiss NGO Helvetas in partnership with the Women's Union (WU), a government women's organisation with branches in every province in the country.

arvan's picture

Positive teens start talking about sex in Zambia

Why should I be condemned to taking drugs for the rest of my life? I did not infect myself. I simply got the virus through mother to child transmission


LUSAKA, 30 September 2009 (PlusNews) - How do you tell your boyfriend that you're a 20-year-old virgin living with HIV? Zambian Chanda Nsofwa was born infected and is now at an age where she has to deal with this and other ticklish questions about sex and HIV.

"We know that some of these children are already having sex or simply want to have it. They hear about sex from their friends and think its time they had it as well," said Dr Chipepo Kankasa, Head of Paediatrics at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), one of the largest medical facilities in the capital, Lusaka.

The answers are available. The hospital has started a programme to help a generation of children born HIV-positive and reaching young adulthood find their way through the thickets of sex and sexuality among teenagers living with the virus.

"The hospital decided to start sessions where teenagers come together with their counsellors and share the concerns they have. The findings have been shocking - the children have a lot of things they want to know, and being given a platform here at the hospital has really helped them," Kankasa said.

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