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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.

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Wanted: New Messengers on Women's Rights in Uganda

By Evelyn Kiapi

ENTEBBE, Uganda, Oct 12 (IPS) - Activists have spent decades trying to get new laws passed to secure the rights of Ugandan women in the private sphere. As a fresh set of gender-related laws comes before parliament, activists are this time seeking to enlist male legislators as partners in advocating their passage.

Parliament is presently considering legislation on marriage and divorce, domestic violence and female genital mutilation. The Uganda Women Parliamentarians Association (UWOPA) recently held a two-day workshop aimed at bringing as many of the country's 230 male legislators as possible on board.

The focus of the discussion at the seminar, held in Entebbe, on the shores of Lake Victoria just east of the capital Kampala, was the draft Marriage and Divorce Bill, which in its draft form guarantees partners fair access to matrimonial wealth during and after a marriage. It would also recognise the crime of marital rape, acknowledging a partner's right to choose when to have sex.

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‘Gender Is No Distraction in Climate Change Talks’

Lynette Corporal interviews women’s rights activist CATE OWREN

BANGKOK, Sep 29 (IPS) - As the countdown to the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit draws to a close, gender and climate change advocates are doubling their efforts to make sure that 23 gender-related paragraphs in the negotiating text will make it to the new treaty that will be hammered out in December.

At the ongoing 12-day Bangkok Climate Change Talks, which opened Monday and the latest round in a series of global discussions leading to the Copenhagen conference, the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA) is keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings.

Women's Environment and Development Organisation sustainable development programme coordinator Cate Owren explains the GGCA's stand and its next steps toward ensuring that gender equality is mainstreamed into climate change policies.

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Criminalisation of Abortion 'The Wrong Concept'

By Kristin Palitza

CAPE TOWN, Oct 8 (IPS) - One hundred African women and girls die unnecessarily from unsafe abortions every day because they have to rely on unqualified medical practitioners or self-induce abortion by ingesting poisonous substances or inserting tools into their uterus.

Africa has the highest percentage of maternal deaths due to unsafe abortion. 60 percent of abortion-related deaths occur in women and girls under the age of 25.

"Abortions that have to be performed illegally translate directly to higher maternal mortality," warned Dr Anibal Faundes.

Faundes, who is professor of obstetrics at the State University of Campinas in Sao Paulo, Brasil, was speaking in Cape Town at the  World Congress of the Federation of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (FIGO), for which he chairs a working group for prevention of unsafe abortion.

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Namibian Illegal Abortions Common Despite Risks

By Patience Nyangove

WINDHOEK, Oct 7 (IPS) - Ten years ago, a move to legalise abortion in Namibia failed. The number of unwanted pregnancies remains high, with many people unwilling or unable to use contraception. Despite the risks, illegal abortions remain common.

Misoprostol - a drug used to control ulcers, more usually known by the brand name Cytotec - has become a favoured method for inducing abortion.

The drug costs around $14 U.S. dollars per tablet from a pharmacist and is readily available on the streets of Windhoek. Medical doctors who conduct abortions illegally using the drug charge between 140 and 200 U.S. dollars.

Twenty-two year-old Monisha (not her real name), a student at University of Namibia, decided to have an abortion because her boyfriend is a married man and hence could not marry her.

"My parents would have killed me if they had found out that I was made pregnant by a married man, who can't marry me," she says. "I am also not ready to be a mother, I am still a student."

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Proposed Ugandan Legislation Attacks Sexual Minorities and Their Defenders

By IGLHRC

IGLHRC expresses grave concern about ongoing detentions in Uganda based on charges of homosexuality, and calls for the dismissal of a bill that would severely curtail the rights of sexual minorities and their defenders.

Since March, a number of alarming instances of anti-LGBT persecution in the East African nation of Uganda have seriously eroded the country's already fragile commitment to tolerance and human rights.  Article 145a of the Penal Code Act of 1950 criminalizes "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature" – a charge used to prosecute, persecute and blackmail LGBT people with the threat of life imprisonment.  Members of this country's Parliament are now considering an even harsher law in the form of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, introduced last week by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati.

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Indian Women Beat the Odds to Leave a Mark as Village Leaders

By Nitin Jugran Bahuguna

UTTARAKHAND, India, Oct 6 (IPS) - When Kusum Lata, 40, decided to run for election in her village, she felt frightened. "I was extremely nervous as everything was new to me," says the mother of four. But the support of her family and friends inspired her.

She has not looked back since becoming a ‘sarpanch’ (head of village-level government) of Gairsain village in Chamoli district in the picturesque mountain state of Uttarakhand.

"After winning the election, I felt very good, but at the same time was I tense about entering a new arena," she said. "The villagers have supported me and made me what I am today, but they have a lot of expectations from me."

Beena Sajwan had an entirely different experience running for a political post in her village. "I faced opposition not only from my family but from men in the village," said the 36-year-old, who ran for the same elective post as Lata in Bhilangana in Tehri district in west Uttarakhand.

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Religion, Politics and Gender Equality in Turkey

Religion, Politics and Gender Equality in Turkey:

Confrontation, Coexistence or Transformation?

By Yesim Arat (UNRISD)

This is the Final Research Report on Turkey in the Religion, Politics and Gender Equality Project.

Turkey is going through a revolutionary experiment with Islam in liberal democratic politics the results of which are not yet clear. The process of democratization dictated the relaxing of a statist hold on religion which, in turn, revived the spectrum of restrictive sex roles for women. The country is thus struggling with a democratic paradox where the expansion of religious freedoms accompanies potential and/or real threats to gender equality.

This paper explores the implications of the democratic paradox. It first traces how religion and politics are intertwined in Turkey and then examines the social and political effects of this intertwining in contemporary politics from a gender perspective. The main argument is that even though the ban on the Islamic headscarf in the universities has been the most visible source of public controversy, it is not the uplifting of the headscarf ban in the universities that we should prioritize as a danger, but the propagation of patriarchal religious values (through the public bureaucracy, the educational system and civil society organizations) that sanction secondary roles for women.

The paper first locates the context, and then traces the intertwining of religion and politics at the level of political as well as civil society. It focuses on the politics of the Justice and Development Party that has been in power since 2002 and briefly turns to the Gulen movement in civil society. It examines how their policies and activities sanction societal norms legitimizing gender inequality, and then assesses the implications of these sanctions. This assessment draws attention to the opportunities women gain in this process and the context of adaptive preferences in which women make life choices.

Finally, the paper considers countervailing forces and strategies for gender equality and empowerment. It primarily surveys secondary material, as well as daily newspapers, public opinion surveys, and party documents.

To access this document please use the links to the right of this page.

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Women and Food Security

(via FAO)

Women produce between 60 and 80 percent of the food in most developing countries and are responsible for half of the world's food production, yet their key role as food producers and providers and their critical contribution to household food security is only now becoming recognized.

FAO studies confirm that while women are the mainstay of small-scale agriculture, farm labour force and day-to-day family subsistence, they have more difficulties than men in gaining access to resources such as land and credit and productivity enhancing inputs and services.

Food security, in fact, has been defined by FAO not only in terms of access to and availability of food, but also in terms of resource distribution to produce food and purchasing power to buy food where it is not produced. Given women's crucial role in food production and provision, any set of strategies for sustainable food security must address their limited access to productive resources.

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No climate justice without gender justice

Momentum is building for gender equity as today more than one hundred women from Asia and around the world voiced a call for gender justice to be included in the next international climate agreement.

The demonstration took place outside the current UN negotiations in Bangkok in an attempt to put much-needed pressure on the delegates to think ‘gender smart’.

“Women from around the world today rallied in front of the UN building in Bangkok, reminding delegates negotiating the post-2012 deal that there can be no climate justice without gender justice,” said Christina Chan, Senior Policy Analyst for CARE International and stresses, that currently the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the only legally binding agreement resulting from the1992 Earth Summit that does not incorporate gender equity.

Women constitute the majority of the world’s poor. They often lack the resources and assets they need to build their resilience to a changing climate such as land, credit, access to support services, new technologies and a place in decision-making bodies.

“The result of women’s vulnerability becomes all too visible when climate disasters occur. More women are injured or killed during hurricanes, floods and cyclones. They are less likely to hear official warnings and to be able to swim or to escape quickly, especially if carrying young children. They are also less mobile then men, confined to their homes,” said Chan, but stressed that poor women serve as important agents of change and play a key role in helping their families and communities adapt to climate change. She explained that in developing countries, women are often the main providers of the most essential livelihood sources; water, food and fuel. As a result, they possess knowledge on effective and innovative solutions to the growing problems associated with a changing climate.

However, according to CARE the world’s poor women often lack access to information and opportunity to feed their knowledge and experience into community, national and global level adaptation and mitigation strategies.

“This jeopardises larger processes of reducing climate change and its impacts. Well designed, top-down approaches to adaptation can play a role in reducing vulnerability to climate change; yet they may fail to address the particular needs and concerns of women,” said Chan from CARE and underlines: “The global deal must prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable people, and ensure that they have a voice in shaping the world's response to climate change. Women are especially vulnerable. Their lives and livelihoods hang on this deal.”

(Source: CARE International)

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