Approximately 40 people braved the rain to attend today's Feminist Majority workshop, From Cairo to Beijing. Panelists spoke from Asia, Africa, and the United States about the successes and problems with the implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo last year.
All three panelists stressed the important role of NGOs in developing new ways to solve problems, monitoring governments, and serving as a bridge between the people of the country and their governments. They also discussed the great impact that the political climate in countries has on the degree to which the decisions made at international conferences are implemented.
A representative of the Environment and Population Center in Zambia discussed the positive impacts of the ICPD, including development of a program that making medical care available free to all pregnant women and children under age five. A national commission was also formed to look at the best ways to transfer the Cairo agreements to national policies.
However, because many of the NGOs in Zambia and the rest of Sub-saharan Africa are poorly funded, many have not adopted a long-term perspective on attempting to implement the Plan of Action. In addition, information dissemination about the implications of the decisions made at the conference to the grassroots and to the people of Zambia has been difficult.
Karen Rindge, from Planned Parenthood, spoke on the U.S. perspective of the ICPD. She had very little good news to tell. The lack of financial support from foundations for NGOs working on implementation of Cairo and the shift in control of the U.S. Congress to conservative Republicans have undermined implementation of the Cairo document in the U.S. The Republican-controlled House and the Senate are attempting to both dismantle domestic social programs in the U.S. and to slash international family planning assistance, cutting the funding entirely for organizations working on reproductive rights issues.
A panelist from Bangladesh told the audience about problems with implementation of the agreements in her country. The UNFPA has translated the platform into Bangla, which is the language that 80% of the people speak and formed an advisory panel for follow-up of the conference. However, while the only organizations really interested in implementing the decisions from the Cairo conference in Bangladesh have been women, these very organizations have been excluded from the governmental process.
The panelists reminded the audience that despite some setbacks in implemenation of the Cairo Plan of Action in the first year, the document sets forth a ten-year implementation strategy.
Media Resources: Miranda Johnson, FMF Special Correspondent
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. . . .