This afternoon, the world will be watching for a renewed U.S. commitment to reaching the goals of the ICPD Plan of Action. But after the speeches, commitments made must be turned into action.
The US can stand tall at this week's UN Conference on Population and Development to secure consensus on a robust action agenda for the world and for U.S. foreign assistance.
On its sixtieth anniversary, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights is still a distant dream for most of the world's girls and women. Nowhere are violations of women's human rights greater than in the health sector.
The HIV prevention paradigm given to us by the U.S. government -- abstain, be faithful and use condoms -- is irrelevant for many, even most, vulnerable women and girls. They cannot abstain, they are already faithful, and their partners refuse to use condoms.
From new commitments to sex education programs to progress on securing a women's right to abortion, these ten developments show that women's health was a priority concern in 2007, and will continue to require our attention and dedication in 2008.
Adrienne Germain is the President of the International Women's Health Coaltion.A lot of the buzz from Toronto this week centered on women, led by the "Bill and Bill show," and especially the Gates' attention to microbicides.
Microbicides will be a key HIV prevention tool, but no technology is going to end this pandemic. Girls' and women's vulnerability is driven by discrimination in education, employment, and property rights, and by sexual coercion and violence. These fundamental issues - and ways to fix them - were not on the lips of most of the conference "star power."
Adirenne Germain is President of the International Women's Health Coalition. When you think of a 12-year-old girl, you probably picture a child…not a wife and mother. In the United States recently, we have learned that child marriage still occurs from time to time and needs to be confronted. For example, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that a 15-year-old girl is old enough to be the common-law wife of a man more than twice her age (this ruling also created the possibility of girls as young as 12 becoming common-law wives). Here in the United States, this problem is an anomaly. In much of the developing world, however, it is commonplace—a major threat to the lives and well-being of tens of millions of girls.
Adrienne Germain is President of the International Women's Health Coalition.
In the next five minutes, another 25 women and girls will be infected with HIV. They are students, housewives, teachers, mothers, and more. HIV/AIDS programs have failed them, just as they have failed the 17 million women currently living with HIV/AIDS, and the countless others who have already died. We must do better.
Let’s take a look at the failure and its causes. In 2001, governments of the world declared that we would empower women and girls against the pandemic. When the world’s governments and civil society again convene at the United Nations next week they need to recognize that the situation is worse for women and girls today than it was five years ago. Infection rates among women and girls are rising in all regions, not only sub-Saharan Africa, because policies and funded programs to empower and protect them have not been a priority.