Haitian Women’s Groups Send Out Plea for Sanitary and Other Supplies for Women and Girls

Jodi Jacobson

In a letter sent to international women's groups, Haitian and Dominican groups working to provide relief are asking for financial or in-kind donations for sanitary supplies and other needs of women and girls.

Haitian women’s groups report that while contributions from the international community continue to pour in, "in many camps essentials such as food and clothing are not yet widely available, especially for women and children."

In a letter of appeal sent to colleagues in the international women’s movement,  Sergia Galvan and Mayra Tavarez of
Colectiva Mujeres Y Salud/CAFRA in the Dominican Republic write:

As with most other natural disasters, the strongest and the fittest tend to dominate disaster supply chain and distribution. Women and young girls are the last to have access to the supplies chain and distribution points. So they do not receive the supplies that they most urgently need in addition to food and water. So it is in Haiti.

"Rape of young girls and women is also a growing problem as
is common in the aftermath of most disasters" they write.  Because of
this, there is also an "urgent need for the morning after pill.

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Haitian women, young girls and youth are in need of:

  • Feminine supplies.
  • Combs.
  • Feminine wipes.
  • Panties, bras and clothes and other support (especially for pregnant women and new mothers).
  • Personal/household supplies for birth delivery and after: (rubbing alcohol or disposable anti-germicidal substitutes; baby wipes, baby wraps, pampers, socks and caps and supplies for nursing. mothers/newborn; (It is cold at nights so there is need to cover the feet and heads of the newborns).
  • Clothing and under garments for women and young girls.
  • Bedding & blankets for babies and mothers.


Their plea: Send supplies or money to help purchase any of the above items.  In general, say Galvan and Tavarez, "any supplies (such as toothpaste, tooth brushes etc) that can be used for daily living for men, women, boys and girls are welcome."

We need your support for these resources and any financial contribution towards shipment that you are able to make.

Donations can be sent directly to:
Sergia Galvan and Mayra Tavarez
Colectiva Mujeres Y Salud/CAFRA
Calle Socomo Sanchez
No 74, Gazcu, Santo Domingo DR

This is a specific drive for Emergency Supplies for Haitian women and girls* that is being sponsored by the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA) and Colectiva Mujers Y  Salud (Women’s Health Collective), Dominican Republic, and the CAFRA Youth League in Haiti.  This assistance is being transferred primarily through the Myriam Merlet International Solidarity Camp* directly to women and women´s organizations.

Myriam Merlet was a National Representative of CAFRA who was killed during the earthquake.

New Constitution for Bolivia Means New Reality for Women and Girls

Teresa Lanza

Bolivia's new Constitution is a victory for the women's movement, including my organization, Catholics for the Right to Decide Bolivia.

this year, the new Bolivian Constitution entered into force, after a
process that lasted more than two years. At a referendum held on
January 25th, 61% of Bolivans  approved the new Constitution, which for the first time dedicates a chapter to women’s rights.

The new Constitution contains several clauses that uphold the health and rights of women including:

  • a clear separation between State and Church
  • the entitlement to sexual and reproductive rights for men and women
  • the
    right to life not limited by the expression "starting at conception,"
    which was proposed by conservative groups and would outlaw abortion in
    the country
  • the right to physical, psychological and sexual integrity
  • the right of women to live free from discrimination, violence, sexual coercion and emotional abuse
  • a provision that guarantees pay equality for women and women
  • the economic value of women’s work in the home as a source of wealth
  • the right of women, married or unmarried, to land ownership.


new text is a victory for the Bolivian women’s movement, including my
organization Catholics for the Right to Decide Bolivia, which started
working together towards a new constitution even before the Constituent
process started. Women’s groups identified the most controversial
topics and developed a strategy on how to place them in the public
debate. One of the first decisions was to educate leaders about the
importance of the Secular State, which lays the groundwork for ensuring
sexual and reproductive rights in Latin America.

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Latin America, a powerful force for change is the rising activism of
indigenous peoples, which helped elect our first indigenous President,
Evo Morales.  Often doubly marginalized,
indigenous women suffer from extremely poor reproductive health and
extensive violations of their sexual rights.  Nevertheless, the connections between indigenous leaders and the women’s movement was not very strong in the country yet.  For that reason, during the Constituent process, some
indigenous leaders saw a dichotomy between collective rights, endorsed
by indigenous peoples, and individual rights, such as many women’s
human rights. By respecting our  the view of
indigenous leaders and carrying out deep discussions, we succeeded in
finding common ground to ensure that individual and collective rights  have their place in the new Constitution.

during the Constituent process was very challenging. First of all, the
Constituent process took place during a time of mounting political
conflicts between the President’s Party and the opposition, which
governs rich states in Bolivia. The divide in the country often ended
up in violence and even death. Also, women’s advocates were
particularly targeted by conservative groups, including through
threats, insults, and physical aggression during formal sessions that
discussed the right to life.  

The new Constitution lays the groundwork to ensure that all Bolivian women have the right to freedom and to make decisions about their own bodies. This victory
keeps our dreams alive. We will continue working towards a world of
equality and equity, a world without violence, discrimination and

and Congress will now start issuing norms regulating the implementation
of the Constitution. Catholics for the Right to Decide Bolivia will
continue working in collaboration with other women’s organizations to
ensure that these norms respond to the interests of women and girls.

This post first appeared on Akimbo.

Roundup: Women at Risk for HIV, When Pregnancy Begins, Ab-Only Out of Tune with Teens, and It’s World Breastfeeding Week

Emily Douglas

The CDC's methodology misses women at risk for HIV, pregnancy begins at implantation for good reason, teens don't speak ab-only, and activism for World Breastfeeding Week.

CDC’s Methodology Misses Women at Risk for HIV

Don Bruner and Jackie Dozier of the Black Men Latino Men Health Crisis and the Women HIV/AIDS Initiatives have
attention to
the CDC’s "outdated" definitions of the groups most at risk
for HIV infection, noting that the women who are contracting one-third of all
new HIV infections don’t fit into those historically high-risk groups,
including men who have sex with men, IV drug users, transplant recipients,
among others. Bruner and Dozier write, "For
women, the result of this flawed methodology is devastating. Too many women are
left uninformed of their HIV status, lacking proper care and unable to reduce
transmission to others."

Rewire’s coverage of the XVII International AIDS Conference
in Mexico City

includes accounts from advocates pushing attention to women’s health and vulnerability to HIV, including:


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Why Pregnancy Begins at Implantation

On ScienceProgress,
Jessica Arons takes a close look why medical consensus has determined that pregnancy
begins at implantation — unsurprisingly, for good scientific reasons. Firstly, there is no way to tell that a woman is
pregnant prior to implantation; her body does not offer any measurable signals.
If the existence of pregnancy can’t be determined, well, then, "we can treat all women as
potentially pregnant — and refuse them access to drugs and devices that would
help them prevent pregnancy."

Second, Arons points out, from one-third to one-half of all fertilized eggs
never manage to implant. And
even if you could detect an embryo prior to implantation, when would this
storied moment of conception take place?

The process of fertilization itself
can take up to 24 hours.
The zygote then begins to divide and differentiate into the preembryo and
travels down the fallopian tubes toward the uterus. Implantation of the
preembryo into the uterine lining typically begins about 5 days after
fertilization and will be completed between 8 and 18 days after fertilization.
Thus, despite the assertions of social conservatives, there is no one "moment"
of conception.

Teens Don’t Speak Ab-Only

Abstinence-only curricula may position sexual activity and
abstinence as opposites, but few teens think that way, University of Washington
researcher Tatiana Masters has found. ScienceDaily
describes Masters’s findings:

Rather than being an either or choice, she said,
a teenager’s decision to become sexually active can be likened to getting on an
escalator. At first, adolescents don’t think about sex very much. Once they
step on the escalator the first step is abstinence. Then as they begin to be
aware of sex, there are other steps and choices to be made that eventually lead
to having intercourse.

"With these programs you often hear ‘sex just happens’
and adolescents are having less safe sex," says Masters. "This detracts from
adolescents having a choice, and this leads to more dangerous sex with more
sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies."

Activism for World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week is wrapping up, and the Daily Women’s
Health Policy Report has highlighted
some of the latest US breastfeeding activism —
including a new Colorado law requiring that employers give their employees time
and private space to breastfeed infants; breastfeeding education campaigns in
Kentucky; and the push for a new Breastfeeding Bill of Rights in New York City.

Parting Shot

"In a consumer age, the potlatch wedding takes on the role of church and
state and tradition in a prior age. Having done away with the
sacrament, the covenant or the consequences, all we know anymore is the
story, and we’re hoping it’s good enough." That’s Linda Hirshman on Broadsheet.


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