Looking back on 2018’s reproductive health news

Earlier this month, I looked up from my computer screen and realized that it was December 1st. It felt like 2018 had flown by, almost as fast as it came. As excited as I am to move towards the 2020 elections with the potential for positive change, I think it’s important to take some time to look back at this year’s events that I perceived to be the good, the bad, and the ugly in the larger conversation of reproductive justice.   When I think of 2018, I think of multiple, and often emotionally exhausting conversations about sexual and gender-based violence. From the heartbreaking discovery in Northern India that sparked protests throughout the country to the United Nations’ report that 50,000 women a year are killed by intimate partners, news headlines this year have been pretty grim. We all watched in horror as the of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing unfolded, bringing with it, memories of Anita Hill’s similarly traumatic experience decades...
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Canada Reaffirms Commitment to Gender Equity through Action

Canada Reaffirms Commitment to Gender Equity through Action

Story by Alex Lichtl, T'19 Canada is emerging as a world leader of gender equality and sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR), according to Sandeep Prasad, executive director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights. The country hosted the 7th International Parliamentarians’ Conference (ICPI) in October and also launched a Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) in June 2017. Marie-Claude Bibeau, the Canadian Minister of International Development, has been a strong advocate for women’s rights and said that since FIAP launched, 93% of Canada’s humanitarian assistance has involved SRHR or women’s empowerment. Minister Bibeau also announced in October that Canada will provide up to $50 million to Palestinian refugees, along with providing International Assistance to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Although Canada’s official development assistance (ODA) of 0.26 to gross national income is below the 0.7 commitment, Minister Bibeau replied that Canada continues to lead in policies advocating for the most vulnerable populations and in investments for educating women in conflict...
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A Frightening Global Truth: Domestic Violence Within Social Normativity

A Frightening Global Truth: Domestic Violence Within Social Normativity

In reviewing data from Demographic and Health Surveys administered in low and middle-income countries between 2005 and 2017, researchers at the University of Bristol have come to an unsettling conclusion; domestic violence against women often exists within the bounds of social normativity. These surveys evaluated the social acceptability of domestic violence when provoked by certain situations, such as when a woman goes out without telling her partner, argues with her partner, neglects her children, is suspected of being unfaithful, refuses to have sex or burns a meal. It was found that approximately 36% of survey participants considered domestic violence justifiable in at least one of these instances. Furthermore, in 36 out of the 49 countries studied, women were more likely to justify this abusive behavior than men, speaking volumes to the deep entrenchment of female subordination, even amongst women. The data regarding the social acceptance of domestic violence is highly variable, ranging anywhere from 3% of the population accepting this...
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When Social Constructs Incorrectly Assume Scientific Validity: The Myth of Virginity and Incidence of “Virginity Testing”

When Social Constructs Incorrectly Assume Scientific Validity: The Myth of Virginity and Incidence of “Virginity Testing”

This past Wednesday, the United Nations called for the end of a practice known as “virginity testing,” declaring such tests a violation of human rights. While these tests possess zero scientific merit or clinical foundation, they are still performed in nearly 20 countries, including but not limited to India, Brazil, Afghanistan, South Africa, Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Northern Ireland, and Jordan. Virginity testing entails a physical examination of the hymen, usually by an insertion of fingers, to determine whether a woman has had sex. However, such measures are incapable of determining whether a woman has had intercourse or not, and reinforce the anatomically incorrect term “intact hymen.” Furthermore, as delineated in the UN’s statement, this test, "further reinforces socio-cultural norms that perpetuate women’s inequality, including stereotyped views of female morality and sexuality, and serves to exercise control over women and girls." In short, "virginity testing" robs women of the right to protection from discrimination, and of the right to...
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The Girl Child’s Present Colors Her Future: The International Day of the Girl Child

The Girl Child’s Present Colors Her Future: The International Day of the Girl Child

October 11th, 2018 marked the sixth annual International Day of the Girl Child, a celebration which works to establish investment in girls as essential to a sustainable and thriving community.  This holiday occurred at a crucial intersection within both a domestic and global narrative. From the election of Brett Kavanaugh to the growing momentum of #MeToo and #WhyIDidn’tReport, sexual violence and other gender disparities have been thrust into the center of public dialogue, igniting the fires of social change. However, to dismantle the culture and practices which systematically devalue women in their present, we must first protect the girl child, as her condition, positive or negative, will ultimately inform her future. This year’s theme of the international day was “With Her: A Skilled GirlForce,” which drew attention to the 25% of unemployed youth, disproportionately consisting of girls. This disadvantaged demographic of girls in the workforce is especially vulnerable to both monetary and sexual exploitation. The very derivation of gender equality...
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#notwithoutrepro

#notwithoutrepro

On Thursday November 2nd, Ivanka Trump traveled to Japan to speak at the World Assembly of Women. In her remarks, Trump commented on the importance of shaping a more realistic picture of women who work (be it in the home, outside, or a combination of both), and that women need to be afforded the same opportunities as their male peers. As she talked about her daughter, she said: "It is my hope that by the time my daughter Arabella grows into a woman, she will not be defined by whether she works inside or outside the home. She will simply be a woman afforded the same opportunities as her male peers and equipped with the education and support she needs to fulfill her unique potential." For her daughter, or girls around the world to do this? They need access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare. Without the ability to decide and control their reproductive futures, girls choices are taken away from them. They will...
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