UNFPA Releases Report on State of World Population
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released a report yesterday calling for improved access to reproductive health services and education for women as crucial steps in the fight against global poverty. The UNFPA’s “State of the World Population 2002” report shows that gender inequality and inadequate reproductive services lead to high fertility rates among the poor, in turn perpetuating poverty and inequality. The report reveals that half of the world’s six billion people live under impoverished conditions, earning less than $2 a day. In developing and developed countries alike, women are much more likely to perform the bulk of the unpaid labor. Fertility rates are shown to be linked to economic growth, increasing women’s participation in the workforce and increasing the education levels. With education, women have fewer and healthier children, who are more likely to be educated themselves.
However, several factors continue to limit the overall benefits that come from educated, healthy women with access to family planning services. One is the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. For the first time, women make up half of all cases of HIV/AIDS, and in the most severely affected region of Sub-Saharan Africa, women are 58 percent of all those infected. Mozambique’s Prime Minister is quoted in the report as saying “HIV/AIDS is transmitted through the most intimate and private human relationships, through sexual violence and commercial sex; it proliferates because of women’s poverty and inequality.” The UNFPA report underscores the importance of empowering women to stem the AIDS crisis, citing certain cultural and social beliefs about women as contributing to their vulnerability in this epidemic.
The report was released in the United States in both Washington, DC, and New York City. At the DC release, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) criticized the Bush Administration for refusing to release $34 million appropriated by Congress for the UNFPA’s work at the urging of a right-wing, anti-abortion interest group. “This misguided decision will cost thousands of women and children’s lives. When we prevent money and services from reaching those in need, women die,” Maloney stated, according to CNSNews.com. The UNFPA states that the US funding would have prevented two million unwanted pregnancies and more than 77,000 infant and child deaths. Bush has recently threatened to back out of the landmark population policy ratified by 179 nations in 1994 if the terms “reproductive rights” and “reproductive health services” were not removed from the language of the agreement. One of the three primary objectives of the UNFPA is to advance the goals agreed upon at the 1994 conference.
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. . . .