Typhoon Haiyan, which hit two weeks ago, has wreaked havoc in the Philippines. The death toll currently stands at 5,200 people and growing. Millions more have been displaced, and the typhoon destroyed health and security infrastructures, leaving women - particularly the estimated 230,000 pregnant women in affected areas - especially vulnerable.
"In the rush to provide assistance, women and girls were invisible," said Ugochi Daniels, Chief of the United Nations Population Fund's (UNFPA) Humanitarian Response. "We now must ensure that their needs are met so that every woman and every girl affected by Typhoon Haiyan is protected and lives with dignity."
Program funds, which will be implemented in coordination with humanitarian partners and national authorities, will go to providing life-saving maternal health services, such as temporary maternity wards and ambulances, kits for women of reproductive age that include sanitary pads and other basic hygiene items, and kits with supplies for pregnant and lactating women.
UNFPA will also support the deployment of female police officer teams, the reconstruction of safe havens, and the designation of spaces for women in evacuation centers to help protect women from violence.
"Targeted support to women is one of the best ways to ensure the health, security and well-being of families and entire communities," said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA's Executive Director.
Media Resources: UNFPA Press Release 11/23/13; UN News Centre 11/23/13
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. . . .