The Human Impact

Global women’s agenda lengthy at AIDS 2012 conference

By Lisa Anderson

WASHINGTON (TrustLaw)— Globally, young women between the ages of 15 and 24 years are twice as likely as their male counterparts to contract HIV. HIV is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age. Women and girls make up 60 percent of the people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, home to two-thirds of the world’s HIV cases.

Just these few facts, provided in a recent report by the United Nations AIDS programme (UNAIDS), begin to underscore women’s and girls’ severe vulnerability to HIV infection and the toll it takes on their lives.

They also help explain the large number of sessions devoted to these issues at the week-long AIDS2012 conference that began in Washington, D.C., on Sunday.

In “Collaborating Across Borders to Advance the Health of Women,” a session prior to the conference’s official start, women from around the world outlined some of the areas they hope the conference will address.

These include more work on: women’s rights; the link between hormonal-based contraception and HIV infection; microbicide gels and other agents to inhibit HIV infection; female condoms; new antiretroviral therapy technology, such as vaginal rings; and greater ease of access to prevention methods and treatment.

Q+A: Turning London family planning summit into action

By Maria Caspani

LONDON (TrustLaw) – A major summit on family planning held in London on Wednesday secured enough funding to extend contraception to 120 million women in the developing world who want it but cannot get it.

Now that the money has been promised, what steps must be taken to ensure this global pledge translates into action to improve the lives of millions of women and children?

Tewodros Melesse, director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), spoke to TrustLaw about using the money effectively.

Rape hotline a lifeline for Haitian women

BOGOTA (TrustLaw) – A 24-hour hotline for survivors of sexual assaults and rape is proving a lifeline for Haitian women and girls, in a country known for its high levels of sexual violence.

Thousands of woman and girls are sexually abused and raped every year in the Caribbean nation.

Although it was a widespread problem long before the January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, sexual violence escalated after the disaster, women’s rights groups say.

Man’s world: poll highlights best and worst G20 countries for women

When heads of state from the Group of 20 most industrialised nations gather for their annual summit in Mexico next week, there’ll be four women in the family photograph.

Take a look at national parliaments and corporate boardrooms across much of the G20 and the male-to-female ratio doesn’t get much better – and in some cases it’s a lot worse.

Yes, women’s rights have come far in past decades but the statistics show we still live in a man’s world.

Video makes plea for alleged LRA sex, gender victims in CAR

A short documentary about the alleged atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) shifts the spotlight from Uganda, where the notorious rebel group originated in 2005, onto the plight of women living in remote regions of Central African Republic (CAR).

In “Our Plea: Women and Girls from the Central African Republic Turn to the ICC for Justice”, two young women say they were captured, raped and tortured in the CAR jungle by members of the group led by Joseph Kony, a self-styled mystic leader who at one time wanted to rule Uganda according to the biblical Ten Commandments.

The 10-minute YouTube video features Nanzouno-Dadine Lea and Joelle Mazungi asking the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague to expand its current investigations into the activities of the rebels in Uganda to include LRA activities in CAR.

Researchers hope to reduce sub-Saharan Africa newborn deaths

Clinical trials are underway to test a new treatment for pregnant women, which could tackle some of the leading preventable causes of death for babies in sub-Saharan Africa, researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have said.

A large number of pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with both malaria and sexually transmitted–reproductive tract infections (STIs – RTIs), according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Each year an estimated 25 million women in sub-Saharan Africa  are at high risk of malaria infection during pregnancy, the study said. Malarial infection heightens the risk of miscarriage, still births, or premature birth and death.

Undernourished and anaemic – the plight of India’s teen girls

The U.N.’s latest report on the state of the world’s 1.2 billion adolescents gives food for thought, especially on the plight of India’s girls aged between 10 and 19.

The report explores a range of issues affecting teenagers around the globe, from nutrition and health to sexual behaviour, knowledge on HIV/AIDS, attitudes towards gender violence and access to education.

Data from surveys of adolescent girls in India, and South Asia in general, are once again a reality check – which we shouldn’t need but unfortunately still do.

“No choice” for Afghan girls brought up as boys

In Afghanistan’s largely conservative, male-dominated society, a son is often viewed as a family’s most valuable resource.

So important for the family’s reputation that the parents sometimes decide to raise one of their daughters as a boy.

“When you don’t have a son in Afghanistan…people question the good life that you have,” BBC Persian reporter Tahir Qadiry told me in London last week.

After 20 years: still no aid for Bosnian rape and torture victims

Nearly two decades after war ended in Bosnia and Herzegovina, hundreds of women who survived rape and torture in the conflict are still seeking reparations and justice, with only 40 cases of sexual violence having been prosecuted so far, an Amnesty International report says.

“Justice is not only about seeing the perpetrators punished, but it’s also being able to function in everyday life,” Elena Wasylew, the campaigner for Amnesty’s Balkan team, told TrustLaw in a telephone interview from Sarajevo, where the report is being released on Thursday.

“When you ask the women, what does justice mean to you, they say justice means ‘I can access healthcare, that my children can access healthcare, that I can go to work and I don’t have to be ashamed about what happened to me,’” said Wasylew, who has worked closely with women survivors in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) over the last several years.

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