Archive for the ‘women’s health’ Category
Two amazing conferences are coming up that will have some excellent speakers AND are affordable. I’ll be live blogging hopefully from both and of them and also will hopefully see you there!
The first is the Feminism and Climate Change conference at Barnard College in NYC on February 27th. One of my favorite environmental leaders, Majora Carter, will be giving the keynote address. For Barnard students, the conference is free but for everyone else the suggested price is $50.
The second is the annual Reproductive Justice Conference from April 9-11 at Hampshire College. It will be my first time attending, but friends of mine that have gone in the past say it’s an unbelievable experience.
Women’s groups all agree on one thing about the earthqauke disaster in Haiti: to rebuild successfully, start with the women.
When relief is distributed by women, it has the best chance of reaching those most in need. That’s not because women are morally superior. It is because their roles as caretakers in the community means they know where every family lives, which households have new babies or disabled elders, and how to reach remote communities even in disaster conditions.
Unfortunately even before the earthquake, women were struggling in Haiti. Now, with no resources, they are left open to violence and hunger. The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) is “cautiously optimistic” about a new plan that distributes rations to the female head of the household.
The programme, launched yesterday, provides women with coloured and dated vouchers that can be exchanged for a 25-kilogram (55-pound) rice ration at one of 16 centres in Port-au-Prince – including at the Sylvio Cator Stadium, which before the earthquake was the country’s national soccer stadium and now houses a tent-city of displaced Haitians.
Both Madre, AWID and other women rights groups remain adamant that helping women will result in a faster rebuilding process for the rest of Haiti. For more excellent analysis on the ongoing crisis in Haiti check out the AWID’s new section devoted to earthquake relief.
Every week I will post a short biography from The United Nations Who’s Who of Women and the Environment. This week is featuring Oral Ataniyazova from Uzbekistan:
Oral Ataniyazova is an obstetrician who also holds a doctorate in medical science. In 1992 she established Perzent, the Karakalpak Center for Reproductive Health and Environment, in order to help the women and children of Karakalpakstan, an ethnically distinct and autonomous republic of Uzbekistan.
Over the last several decades, the Aral Sea — once one of the world’s largest inland seas — has shrunk to almost half its size. Due to the severity of the pollution in the area, it is believed that its entire population has been exposed to dangerous chemicals over extended periods of time. Public health in the region has deteriorated with the worsening ecological situation. Over the past 20 years, there has been an increase in the rates of anemia, kidney and liver diseases, allergies, tuberculosis, birth defects and reproductive pathologies. Women and children are among those most affected by the Aral Sea crisis
“Perzent” means “progeny” in Karakalpak. For her research, Dr. Ataniyazova studied about 5,000 reproductive-age women in Karakalpakstan. Her findings were so alarming that in 1992 she founded the first Karakalpak women’s clinic for reproductive health: the “Marriage and Family” Clinic. In addition to scientific research (e.g. on water quality), family planning and medical assistance, Perzent offers a wide range of educational and community programs that focus on raising public awareness about the region’s environmental and health problems. Most of Ataniyazova’s activities concentrate on women and how they can improve their lives, including family health and the quality of food and water.
Perzent trains local groups in areas such as health and hygiene, sustainable agriculture, as well as women’s and children’s rights. It created the Ecological Club “Shagala” to provide environmental education programmes in rural areas. Together with the Save the Children Fund it started an environmental education program for 5-6 year old children. Additionally, the centre has published brochures and booklets on health and on the relationship between health (particularly reproductive health) and the environment, and maintains an environmental library open to the public.
With branches in several rural districts, Perzent has created a 50-acre organic farm, a women’s clinic and a publishing house. To fully involve the local people, Perzent actively solicits ideas from communities for practical solutions to the region’s problems. More than 10,000 people have been involved in the organization’s activities.
Ataniyazova has worked on these issues at the national, regional and international levels. As an expert in reproductive health, she has been a key spokesperson addressing various international agencies, including the United Nations. Despite many difficulties during the past two decades, Ataniyazova has helped improve the health and status of women and children in one of the world’s most dramatic ecological hot spots. Undaunted, she continues to speak out about the crisis that is destroying the lives of her patients and the future of their communities.
Oral Ataniyazova was honoured with the Goldmann Prize in 2000.
Several years ago while working in Mozambique, she found a connection between inadequate sanitary protection for menstruating girls and women and lost income and education for towns, cities and entire countries,
Through research, she learned that menstruating girls and women lose up to fifty days a year of work or school because they are afraid of leaking through their make shift rags or bark. Scharpf decided to do something about it and launched SHE, which gives out micro-finance loans and basic health training to local women so that they can manufacture pads from local sustainable materials and sell them at affordable prices. Selling the pads is a source of income for the women and the girls and women who have access to the pads are less likely to contract infections and are able to participate in public life every day of the month.
Watch a promo video for the project:
While we take the availability of pads and tampons for granted in the United States, the lack of access to sanitary options has many dangers.
From the Huffington Post:
In developing countries, periods continue to be a serious handicap. According to UNICEF, ten percent of school-age African girls miss school because of a lack of access to affordable sanitary products. In Rwanda, it’s much worse. According to on-the-ground research by Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE), half the girls are missing school due to menstruation and the main reason given is that sanitary pads are too expensive. For women, 24% miss work–up to 45 days per year–for the same reason. This not only limits girls’ educational and women’s professional achievement, but leads to a significant economic loss for nations. SHE estimates that a lack of affordable sanitary pads reduces GDP by $115 million per year in Rwanda alone.
There are also serious health repercussions of not having pads. In Asia, many women still use rags; less fortunate ones use newspapers, banana leaves, even sand or ash. While rags were common before the pad was invented, the problem in developing countries is that often women don’t have access to clean water to wash them. And the taboo of menstruation means that many women cannot hang their rags to dry in the open. So, instead, they hide them in dark, damp places where no one will find them. As one might imagine, infections are rampant.
1. Women provide the bulk of health care but rarely receive the care they need
2. Women live longer than men but these extra years are not always healthy
3. Despite some biological advantages, women’s health suffers from their lower socio-economic status
4. Policy change and action is needed within the health care sector and beyond
The study also concluded that HIV is the leading cause of death and disease of women ages 15-44
From the NYT:
In its first study of women’s health around the globe, the World Health Organization said Monday that H.I.V. is the leading cause of death and disease among women between the ages of 15 and 44. Unprotected sex is the leading risk factor in developing countries for these women of childbearing age; others include iron deficiency and lack of access to contraceptives, said the W.H.O., a United Nations agency. Throughout the world, one in five deaths among women in this age group is linked to unprotected sex, the agency said. The data was included in a report intended to highlight the unequal health treatment a woman faces from birth to death.