Drafts of the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) International Guidelines on Sexuality Education that will be launched formally in October are inciting controversy. UNESCO describes the guidelines (see PDF) as "an evidence-informed and rights-based framework to give children and young people access to the knowledge and skills they need in their personal, social and sexual lives." The guidelines were developed using input from worldwide experts and research and aim to reduce the number of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, contracted by youth globally each year. Currently, there are 111 million new cases annually, according to the Telegraph UK.
Conservative groups, primarily in the United States, have criticized the proposed guidelines as promoting the idea that access to legal abortion is a right, positioning abstinence as "only one of a range of choices available to young people", and encouraging discussion of homosexuality and masturbation, reported the New York Times. In response to the critics, the United Nations Population Fund has reportedly requested that their name be removed from all materials supporting the guidelines.
Sue Williams, chief of UNESCO's Paris press relations department told Time, "we're not surprised by this reaction, nor the places it's coming from. In fact, our very goal with such recommendations is to initiate the kind of debate, reflection, and action that moves the topic forward. Our desire now, however, is that debate be both informed and balanced."
Nanette Ecker, who co-authored the guidelines said, "Successful programs merge both evidence-informed approaches with rights-based, scientifically accurate and comprehensive approaches. The two approaches are not mutually exclusive. In a world with so many children and young people at risk of unintended pregnancy, sexual abuse and violence, HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), it would be an abuse if critical information about sexuality, relationships and sexual health wasn't provided to young people."
Media Resources: UNESCO 8/27/09; New York Times 9/2/09; Telegraph UK 8/28/09; Time 9/3/09
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .