Category Archives: Leadership

Three sex workers stage protest at Festival of Dangerous Ideas

AIDS Accountability International Sex workers

 

Three Sydney sex workers have staged a protest at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas over the representation of their profession in a panel discussion on the global sex industry called Women For Sale.

During a session that also discussed pornography, IVF and surrogacy, they handed out pamphlets to festival goers and posed with an A3 sign that read: “I am a sex worker. I am not for sale”.

This year’s festival has been beset with controversy, including the cancellation of a talk on “honour” killings and calls for a boycott over links to the government’s asylum seeker policy.

“This is a festival of dangerous ideology,” one of the workers, Jules Kim, told Guardian Australia. “Sex workers are not ‘women for sale’. The panel discusses sex workers, but the festival did not invite sex workers to be on the panel even though they are the experts in this field.”

Kim, who is the acting chief executive of the Australian sex workers’ organisation Scarlet Alliance, applied to festival organisers St James Ethics Centre to be included on the panel which featured four writers and journalists, but had her request denied.

However, at the beginning of the discussion journalist Elizabeth Pisani invited Kim to replace her on stage and she was allowed to take part.

Kim said of the festival organisers: “You would think they’d want an actual sex worker [on the panel], but somehow that’s not important because we’re seen as victims; voiceless and having no agency.”

The co-founder and co-curator of the festival, Simon Longstaff of the St James Ethics Centre, said the intention of the sex workers to contribute to the discussion was “entirely appropriate”.

“However, I think that their cause could have been advanced in a stronger direction if they had used slightly different means. For example, taking the opportunity to express their opinion and then withdrawing back into the audience would have made a clear statement without seeking to dominate an agenda which was always intended to cover a broader range of issues.

“That said, a festival of dangerous ideas is always going to have interesting an exciting moments for which no one could have possibly planned.

“In my opinion what needed to be represented was a broad spectrum of opinion, which included the opinions of sex workers in Elizabeth Pisani,who was able to articulate the opinions that sex workers hold.

“One of the conscious designs of the festival is that … there is opportunity for people to contribute in the Q&A and in that senses there was always an opportunity for sex workers or parents of sex workers or any part of the community to contribute to this discussion.”

The two other protesters, Zahra Stardust and Cameron Cox, said they were allowed to enter the panel only as audience members on condition they leave a bag carrying their sign and pamphlets at the entrance. Stardust said the festival was part of a “historical, structural, systemic problem”.

The advocate said lack of representation inevitably meant myths and misinformation harmful to the lives of sex workers would be reproduced. Those ideas would be used to justify the criminalisation of their work, and increase stigma and institutional discrimination.

She said among such myths were that all sex work is exploitation, all sex work is a result of human trafficking, sex work is an inherent form of violence against women, all sex workers are young, female and coerced, all clients are male, and that the criminalisation of sex work would end the sex industry.

The protesters said the panel – which overall was highly critical of sex work, emphasising its links to sexual slavery and human trafficking, and calling for the criminalisation of both sex work and its clients – failed to acknowledge the legitimacy of sex work.

Source:http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2014/aug/31/three-sex-workers-stage-protest-at-festival-of-dangerous-ideas

 

International leaders and public health experts call for women and children to be at the centre of the post-2015 development agenda

More than 800 leaders and public health experts from around the world opened a landmark two-day meeting in Johannesburg to review new data and call for accelerated action to improve maternal, newborn and child health. The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) 2014 Partners' Forum was opened by Graça Machel, Chair of PMNCH and African Ambassador for Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed, who is making her first public appearance since the end of her mourning period after the death of her husband, Nelson Mandela.

"The world has made remarkable progress to improve health and expand opportunities over the past 14 years. Despite all efforts, there is still much more to be done," said Graça Machel. "Women and children have not been covered adequately. We must ensure that all women, adolescent girls, children and newborns, no matter where they live, are able to fulfill their rights to health and education, and realize their full potential."

In support of the UN Secretary-General's Every Woman Every Child movement, the Partners' Forum builds on two months of high-level meetings in Toronto, Prague, and Washington, DC, where global leaders and health experts met to discuss strategies to promote the health of women and children. At this Forum, leaders discussed steps to assist countries that have lagged behind in efforts to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, and made specific recommendations for how to maintain the focus on women and children within the post-2015 development agenda. Notably, participants also pledged their financial and policy support and a range of new resources to support the implementation of the new Every Newborn action plan (ENAP), a roadmap to improve newborn health and prevent stillbirths by 2035.

"We are privileged as a country to host this important meeting about the urgent need to improve women's and children's health. This global gathering gives us the opportunity to learn from each other's successes and challenges, and to identify new approaches," said Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, South African Health Minister. The Government of South Africa is a Forum co-host, together with PMNCH, Countdown to 2015, A Promise Renewed and the independent Expert Review Group.

Despite improvements, 289,000 women still die every year from complications at birth and 6.6 million children do not live to see their fifth birthday, including nearly 3 million newborns. At least 200 million women and girls are unable to access family planning services that would allow them to control when they have children.

The world has been especially slow in improving health outcomes for newborns. Globally, each year, 2.9 million newborns (first 28 days of life) die and 2.6 million are stillborn (die in the last three months of pregnancy or during childbirth). Recent data published in The Lancet Every Newborn Series indicate that 15,000 babies are born and die every day without ever receiving a birth or death certificate. The accompanying analysis found that 3 million maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths in 75 high burden countries could be prevented each year with proven interventions that can be implemented for an annual cost of only US$1.15 per person.

Responding to this crisis, partners at the Forum launched the ENAP, endorsed by the World Health Assembly in May 2014. The action plan is based on concrete evidence to further reduce preventable newborn deaths and stillbirths. Signalling their support for the full and prompt implementation of the plan, Forum attendees announced 40 new commitments. These commitments are in support of the UN Secretary-General's Every Woman Every Child movement and come from a diverse group of stakeholders, including governments, civil society organizations and the private sector.

"There is absolutely no reason for so many newborns to die every year when their lives can be saved with simple, cost-effective solutions," said Dr. Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General for Family, Women's and Community Health at the World Health Organization. "The WHO remains committed to support countries and work with partners as the plan gets implemented, and to the accountability agenda, which includes reporting on progress achieved every year until 2030."

New data is critical to inform discussions about changing this reality. Today, partners at the Forum released the Countdown to 2015 Report for 2014, which presents the latest assessment of progress in the 75 countries that account for 95 percent of all maternal and child deaths each year. The report finds that in several countries, more than half of the mothers and children in the poorest 20 percent of the population still receive two or fewer of the eight interventions deemed essential for preventing or treating common causes of maternal and child death, including vaccinations, skilled birth attendance, pneumonia and diarrhea treatment, and access to family planning. The analysis shows that, in these 75 countries, a median of 39 percent of deaths of children under age five occur during the first month of life, underscoring a need for improved access to quality skilled delivery care for mother and baby around the time of birth, when most stillbirths and maternal and newborn deaths occur.

"We have affordable interventions that we know work. There's no excuse for not bringing them to the women and children who need them," said Dr. Mickey Chopra, Chief of Health at UNICEF and co-Chair of Countdown to 2015. "The health and well-being of our next generation, and the right of millions of children to live happy, productive lives, is at stake."

One other report was also launched at the 2014 PMNCH Partners' Forum: Success Factors for Women's and Children's Health Report spotlights 10 "fast track" countries making considerable progress in reducing maternal and child deaths, showing that rapid progress is possible despite significant social and economic challenges. The report showed the benefits of investing in high-impact interventions such as skilled care at birth, immunization, and family planning.

Delegates at the Forum emphasized the importance of ensuring that future efforts focus on countries that are making slow progress, and on poor and marginalized populations, including newborns and adolescents. Delegates also urged political leaders to work across different sectors—including education, skills and employment, water supply and sanitation, nutrition, energy, roads, and women's empowerment—to ensure an integrated approach to improving the health of women and children.

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PMNCH

The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) is a partnership of 625 organizations from across seven constituencies: governments, multilateral organizations, donors and foundations, nongovernmental organizations, healthcare professional associations, academic, research and training institutions, and the private sector. Hosted by the World Health Organization and launched in 2005, the vision of the Partnership is the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, with women and children enabled to realize their right to the highest attainable standard of health in the years to 2015 and beyond.

Government of South Africa

The Government of South Africa recognizes that success in achieving better health outcomes as a country depends on partners' collective ability to build relationships and work across sectors. We are highly committed to improving the lives of women and children, and the reduction of maternal and child mortality remains a critical area of focus in South Africa. In 2012, South Africa launched the Campaign on the Accelerated Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) strategy, setting goals of reducing maternal and neonatal mortality by more than half between 2013/2014 and 2018/19.

Countdown to 2015

Countdown to 2015 is a global movement to track, stimulate and support country progress towards the health-related Millennium Development Goals, particularly goals 4 (reduce child mortality) and 5 (improve maternal health). Established in 2003, Countdown is supra-institutional and includes academics, governments, international agencies, professional associations, donors, nongovernmental organizations and other members of civil society, with The Lancet as a key partner. The Countdown Secretariat is hosted by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health. Countdown focuses specifically on tracking coverage of a set of evidence-based interventions proven to reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality in the 75 countries where more than 95% of maternal and child deaths occur. Countdown produces periodic publications, reports and other materials on key aspects of reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, using data to hold stakeholders to account for global and national action. At the core of Countdown reporting are country profiles that present current evidence to assess country progress in improving reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health.

A Promise Renewed

Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed is a global movement to end preventable child deaths. Under the leadership of participating governments and in support of the United Nations Secretary-General's Every Woman Every Child strategy, A Promise Renewed brings together public, private and civil society actors committed to advocacy and action for maternal, newborn and child survival. A Promise Renewed emerged from the Child Survival Call to Action, convened in June 2012 by the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States, in collaboration with UNICEF. The more than 700 government, civil society and private sector participants who gathered for the Call to Action reaffirmed their shared commitment to scale up progress on child survival, building on the success of the many partnerships, initiatives and interventions that currently exist within and beyond the field of health. A Promise Renewed is represented on the Forum steering committee by USAID and UNICEF.

Independent Expert Review Group (iERG)

The UN Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health was established by WHO at the request of the United Nations Secretary-General to accelerate progress on the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health. Starting in 2012 and ending in 2015, the iERG is reporting regularly to the United Nations Secretary-General on the results and resources related to the Global Strategy and on progress in implementing this Commission's recommendations.

30 June 2014

By All Africa

Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201406300590.html?viewall=1

Historic Africa-wide Campaign to end child marriage in Africa launched

Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, 29May 2014 –“We cannot down play or neglect the harmful practice of child marriage as it has long term and devastating effects on these girls whose health is at risk and at worst leading to death due to child birth and other complications,” says Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

 

“Child marriage concerns human rights, gender, health and culture and is a development issue which is complex, caused and maintained by a number of factors, such as poverty, gender based violence and gender discrimination, among others,” she said in her statement read on her behalf by Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, the AUC Commissioner for Social Affairs at the continental launch of the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa, held on 29 May 2014, at the African Union Commission Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

 

The AUC Chairperson reaffirmed her unwavering commitment to ensure sustained political will and continuous coordination and harmonization of all efforts to achieve the desired goals.

 

Child marriage continues to affect millions of girls every year in Africa with the resultant outcome of high rates in maternal and child mortality; obstetric fistula, premature births, sexually transmitted diseases (including cervical cancer), and HIV and domestic violence. Girls continue to be married as children in Africa, with more than five and a half million women who are today in their early 20s married before they reached their 15th birthday.

 

Participants at the launch, who included African Ministers in-charge of Social Development, UN agencies, civil society organisations, experts, and survivors of child marriage, were informed that if nothing was done in the next decade, 14.2 million girls under 18 years will be married every year, which translates into 39,000 girls married each day. If this trend continues, the number of girls under 15 giving birth is expected to rise from 2 million to 3 million by 2030, in Africa. The costs of inaction, in terms of rights unrealized, foreshortened personal potential and lost development opportunities, far outweigh the costs of interventions.

 

Ms. Bineta Diop, the AUC Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security emphasized that educating girls, will help improve Africa’s socio-economic development and that no child’s education should be interrupted at any time because of marriage. She noted that the real cases of child marriage happen at the grassroots and all stakeholders must work to ensure that this campaign gets to the local communities.

 

Despite these challenges, child marriage rates are declining as a result of local action in African countries. “As we watch the rates of child marriage decline, we can expect to seemore girls in school for a longer time, more girls accessing health and protection services, less violence against women and girls, more qualified women participating in the labour force and more empowered women who are able to overcome poverty for themselves, their children and their family,”said Martin Mogwanja, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, while reaffirming UNICEF’s commitment to supporting the campaign.

 

“Child marriage remains a fundamental human rights violation and is a symptom of the prevailing gender inequalities all of us are fighting so hard to prevent,” he added, while also highlighting the existing pan-African momentum and partnership on ending child marriage.

 

On her part, Dr. Julitta Onabanjo, UNFPA Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, confirmed support to the campaign, noting: “Ending child marriage will require unambiguous political commitment, visionary leadership, and support for grassroots advocacy to address many of the cultural practices and behaviors that place young women and girls at increased multiple health risks, including HIV.”

 

She noted that laws needed to be enforced against child marriage, including the enactment and enforcement of laws that raise the minimum age at marriage to 18.“It is therefore imperative to ensure holistic policy environment that supports and promotes human rights, builds capacity and empowers individuals, community stakeholders and organizations to change attitudes and the cultural and religious norms that perpetuate child marriage is critical,” she urged.

 

An important highlight of the launch was the naming of Ms. Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda as a Goodwill Ambassador for the campaign. MsGumbonzvanda is currently the General Secretary of the World YWCA. She is a trained human rights lawyer from Zimbabwe with extensive experience in conflict resolution and mediation, including 20 years’ experience on issues of women and children’s human rights, with a special focus on crisis countries.

 

The campaign was launched during the Conference of Ministers of Social Development, held under the theme, “Strengthening the African Family for Inclusive Development in Africa”and will aim at ending child marriage by: (i) supporting legal and policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights, (ii) mobilizing continental awareness of the negative socio-economic impact of child marriage, (iii) building social movement and social mobilization at the grassroots and national levels; and (iv) increasing the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy including the role of youth leadership through new media technology, monitoring and evaluation among others.

 

Click here to read the press release.

 

For further information, please contact

 

Directorate of Information and Communication | African Union Commission | E-mail: MUSABAYANAW@africa-union.org; Kennetho@africa-union.org|Web Site: www.au.int| Addis Ababa | Ethiopia

 

 

Zuma appoints first lesbian to cabinet

Brown

President Jacob Zuma, has appointed the country’s first openly gay cabinet minister, a move thought also to be a first in Africa and a symbolic step on a continent enduring a homophobic backlash.

Lynne Brown becomes the public enterprises minister in a cabinet that includes South Africa‘s first black minister of finance.

Brown, 52, who is coloured (of mixed race ancestry), was born in Cape Town and was premier of Western Cape until the African National Congress (ANC) lost control of the province to the opposition Democratic Alliance in 2009.

According to a 2008 profile of her by the South African Press Association, she began her career as a teacher and gained a certificate in gender planning methodology at University College London. “I can’t bear working in an environment where things don’t get done,” she was quoted as saying. “I’m not a flamboyant type of person; I get things done.”

Her personal interests were said to be playing golf, reading and “an admiration of arts and culture”.

She is not seen as a gay rights activist but her ascent to a cabinet post was described on Monday as a significant moment.

Eusebius McKaiser, a broadcaster and political author, who is gay, said: “It is, sadly, probably newsworthy, I guess, insofar as the social impact of openly gay people in high-profile public leadership positions cannot be discounted in a country like South Africa where levels of homophobia, including violence against black lesbian women, remain rife.

“The symbolism matters from an African perspective, too, given other countries around us are enacting and enforcing laws criminalising same-sex sex and lifestyles.”

Steven Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, said: “I think it’s worth drawing attention to. She’s not a gay rights campaigner – it’s not recognition in that sense – but the fact that under the most socially conservative president since 1994 there is the first openly gay minister in such a position is significant.”

South Africa was the first African country to legalise gay marriage but Zuma, a traditional Zulu polygamist, has been criticised for culturally fundamentalist remarks and failing to condemn anti-gay crackdowns in Nigeria and Uganda.

Asked by the Guardian in 2012 about his views on same-sex marriage, the president replied: “That does not necessarily require my view, it requires the views of South Africans. We have a constitution that is very clear that we all respect, which I respect. It has a view on that one, that gay marriage is a constitutionally accepted thing in South Africa. So, no matter what my views would be.”

Zuma, 72, who was inaugurated on Saturday for a second term, named Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister, the first black person to hold the position. Nene, 55, had served as deputy to the widely respected Pravin Gordhan, who is of Indian ancestry.

Nene, whose first name means “luck” in Zulu, is a former parliamentarian and chair of the finance portfolio committee. He spent 15 years at the insurance firm MetLife, where he was a regional administrative manager and where, during racial apartheid, he organised the country’s first strike in the financial sector. Razia Khan, Africa’s regional head of research for Standard Chartered Bank, said: “Nene is an old hand at the treasury. He will be seen to represent policy continuity.”

Cyril Ramaphosa, a former miners’ union leader turned billionaire businessman, becomes deputy president. But Friedman suggested he was far from certain to succeed Zuma. “That’s far more complicated. He doesn’t like taking political risks. The succession may revolve around some regional issues. KwaZulu-Natal is the biggest province and they’re pushing to choose the next president. I don’t think the other provinces will be keen on that.”

After a punishing five-month strike in the platinum mines, the mineral resources minister, Susan Shabangu, was removed.

The police minister, Nathi Mthethwa, who was in office during the killing of 34 striking miners at Marikana in 2012, was also shifted from his post.

By David Smith © Guardian News and Media 2014

Image – Lynne Brown (Gallo)

Source: http://women.mg.co.za/zuma-appoints-first-openly-gay-cabinet-minister/

Kenyan women unite to increase access to maternal and child health.

AAI Kenyan women

More than 100 leaders and representatives of women’s rights organizations from across Kenya came together on 24 March in Nairobi to discuss ways to stop new HIV infections among children by 2015 and improve the health of mothers in the country.  


The women’s rights leaders meeting was co-organized by UNAIDS, UNDP, the National AIDS Control Council, the National AIDS and STI Control Programme and  the Community Advocacy and Awareness (CRAWN) Trust. The event aimed to accelerate the momentum started by the First Lady of Kenya Margaret Kenyatta through the Beyond Zero campaign—an initiative to end mother-to-child transmission and AIDS-related maternal deaths in Kenya.


Speaking at the meeting, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Jan Beagle applauded the First Lady’s personal commitment and stressed that for UNAIDS, gender equality and human rights—including sexual and reproductive health rights—are non-negotiable elements to ensure effective HIV and health responses.


Government figures show that in Kenya AIDS-related illnesses account for one in five maternal deaths and 100 000 children under the age of 5 years died from preventable causes in 2012. According to WHO figures, Kenya currently dedicates 6% of its national budget—less than half of the 15% Abuja Declaration target—to the health sector. 


Quotes


“We need to leverage synergies across movements, bringing together the capacity and innovation of the AIDS response with movements to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls."
Jan Beagle, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director


“Our involvement as the women’s movement is a game changer and will catalyse actions needed to bring the necessary changes and accelerate the achievement of the Beyond Zero campaign goals.”
Daisy Amdany, CRAWN Trust Executive Director


By UNAIDS
26 March 2014

http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/featurestories/2014/march/20140326kenyadxd/ 

Petitioning South African Government Step up for equality!

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The Anti-Homosexuality Act signed by President Museveni on Monday, February 24, 2014 threatens people who engage in same sex acts with life imprisonment. It also threatens the work of organisations that seek to advance the health, rights and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. 

 

The Anti-Homosexuality Act creates an environment of fear, threats of violence and increased discrimination towards sexual minorities in Uganda. With the publication of names of people, there is deep anxiety of increased attacks amongst the community of sexuality minorities..

 

We also note similar laws in countries, such as the recent Anti-Same Sex Marriage Act in Nigeria, which undermines our collective humanity and dignity.

 

Section 9 of the South African Constitution offers protection on the basis of sexual orientation and guarantees dignity and equality for all in South Africa. South Africa’s leadership on this issue is particularly important to realising equal rights for all in the region.

 

We call for the South African Government to:

•           Issue a statement clarifying South Africa’s commitment to human rights for all and a foreign policy which promotes a human-rights based approach to minority sexual groups throughout Africa and the rest of the world;

•           Commit our Embassy in Kampala to provide support to protect the safety, rights and dignity of all fellow Africans at risk on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity; and

•           Confirm South Africa as a safe haven and confirm its willingness to grant asylum to anyone facing persecution on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity. 

 

Sign the petition to South African Government.

Uganda’s President signs anti-gay bill into law

updated 5:58 AM EST, Mon February 24, 2014
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Ugandan president to sign anti-gay bill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(CNN) – Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law Monday a bill that criminalizes homosexuality.

Museveni had gone back and forth about the controversial bill.

Last month, Museveni said he wouldn't sign the bill, describing homosexuals as "sick" people who needed help, not imprisonment.

Then he backtracked this month and said he'd sign it because scientists had determined that there's no gene for homosexuality and it was merely abnormal behavior.

Then, last week, he said he would seek advice from American scientists before he made any decision.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda. The law toughens the penalties, including life imprisonment for certain acts.

Museveni said that Ugandan scientists had determined there was no gene for homosexuality.

"It was learned and could be unlearned," he said.

Shortly after his announcement, U.S. President Barack Obama warned that enacting the bill would affect relations between the two nations. He described the proposal as an "affront and a danger to the gay community" in Uganda.

The United States and Britain are among the nation's largest donors.

Placating Western donors

Then, in what appeared to be a move to placate Western donors, Museveni said he would seek extended guidance.

In a statement last week, he said U.S. scientists sent him opinions indicating "homosexuality could be congenital."

"I therefore encourage the U.S. government to help us by working with our scientists to study whether, indeed, there are people who are born homosexual," Museveni said. "When that is proved, we can review this legislation."

Years of debates

A Ugandan lawmaker first introduced the bill in 2009 with a death penalty clause for some homosexual acts. It was briefly shelved when Britain and other European nations threatened to withdraw aid to Uganda, which relies on millions of dollars from the international community.

The nation's parliament passed the bill in December, replacing the death penalty provision with a proposal of life in prison for "aggravated homosexuality." This includes acts where one person is infected with HIV, "serial offenders" and sex with minors, Amnesty International said.

The bill also proposed years in prison for anyone who counsels or reaches out to gays and lesbians, a provision that would ensnare rights groups and others providing services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Homosexuality in Africa

Homosexuality is illegal in 38 African countries, where most sodomy laws were introduced during colonialism. In Uganda, homosexual acts are punishable by 14 years to life in prison.

But lawmakers in the conservative nation have sought tougher legislation, saying the influence of Western lifestyles risks destroying family units.

Rights groups worldwide have condemned the bill as draconian.

By Faith Karimi,

24 February 2014

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/24/world/africa/uganda-anti-gay-bill/

CNN's Antonia Mortensen in Entebbe, Uganda, and Yousuf Basil in Atlanta contributed to this report.

 

Obama Condemns Uganda’s Tough Antigay Measure.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — President Obama on Sunday condemned a measure to criminalize homosexuality in Uganda, publicly warning the country’s president that such discrimination could harm its relationship with the United States.

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda signaled on Friday that he was likely to sign a bill that would punish the “the promotion or recognition” of same-sex relations with as much as life in prison.

 

“As we have conveyed to President Museveni, enacting this legislation will complicate our valued relationship with Uganda,” Mr. Obama said in his statement.

The bill, Mr. Obama added, “will be more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda.”

“It will be a step backward for all Ugandans and reflect poorly on Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people,” the president said.


RELATED COVERAGE
    document
    Document: Obama on Uganda’s Antigay BillFEB. 16, 2014
    President Yoweri Museveni delayed signing a version of the bill last year, saying it was flawed.

    Ugandan President Says He Will Sign Tough Antigay MeasureFEB. 15, 2014

 

Mr. Obama’s statement came as he was golfing at a private course in Rancho Mirage, near the Sunnylands estate in California where he was spending the weekend.

Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, who accompanied the president on his trip, announced that she had spoken “at length” with Mr. Museveni on Saturday evening to discourage him from signing the bill.

In a series of posts on Twitter Sunday morning, Ms. Rice said she “told him it will be a huge step backward for Uganda and the world.”

 

Under the proposed law, a first conviction could result in a 14-year prison sentence, and subsequent convictions of “aggravated homosexuality” could lead to a life term.

The bill passed by the Ugandan Parliament in December is a modified version of a 2009 proposal that included death sentences. It was withdrawn after an international outcry.

Mr. Obama’s statement did not limit criticism to Uganda, noting, “Tragically, we are seeing an increase in reports of violence and harassment targeting members of the LGBT community from Russia to Nigeria.”

Last month, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States was “deeply concerned” about Nigeria’s new anti-gay law. That measure would impose harsh penalties not only for people convicted of having same-sex relationships, but also for those participating in gay clubs and organizations.

 

Mr. Obama sent a delegation of prominent gay athletes, including the tennis champion Billie Jean King, to represent the United States at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, seen as a response to Russia’s ban on gay “propaganda.”
Obama on Uganda’s Antigay Bill

Malawi: Joyce Banda Forms Education Committee.

President-Banda

Blantyre — As one way of showing commitment towards the protection of a girl child in the country President Dr Joyce Banda has established a Special Committee on the Acceleration of Girls Education in Malawi.

The President disclosed this on Thursday at Sanjika Palace during an audience with High Level Task Force for Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV for Eastern and Southern Africa saying this committee will look at how to overcome traditional barriers to girls' education, such as early marriages and pregnancies.

The Head of State then called upon relevant authorities to hold the necessary consultations and lobbying to ensure that the country attain the right to support for the age of marriage in Malawi to be raised to at least 18 years for both boys and girls to give them time to acquire enough education before marriage.

"There is no question about my personal commitment to the raising of the marriage age. I am however aware that this is a delicate issue among some traditional leaders, conservative communities, faith leaders and some legislators.

"That is why, in my opinion, it is best that we do our homework by engaging all stakeholders and bring the bill to parliament at the right time for us to succeed," said the President Banda.

The president highlighted that there is so much that the country can achieve through working with traditional leaders who are guardians of traditional culture. She said the T/A's ability to mobilise support within their communities will be crucial in promoting and protecting girl child at a local level.

The president said she was very pleased to learn that some chiefs have already started taking big strides in promoting the girl child through the creation of a Declaration of Commitment to be signed by Paramount and Senior Chiefs.

"This declaration focuses on issues of the girl child in a holistic way, looking at education, gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, early marriages, and HIV, while also taking advantage of the positive aspects of our culture and cultural ceremonies to support these efforts," delighted the head of state.

In her remarks leader of the High Level Task Force for Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV for Eastern and Southern delegation, Professor Sheila Tlou who is UNAIDS Regional Director commended President Dr Joyce Banda for her efforts in improving the welfare of the girl child education and her continued support to girls' education.

She however requested for the formation of a high level committee which will oversee the enactment of the marriage bill so that more girls should be able to complete their education before marriage.

BY YAMIKANI YAPUWA

1 NOVEMBER 2013

http://allafrica.com/stories/201311030198.html

 

HIV and Sexuality Education: Time to Act Now with Young People in Eastern and southern Africa

UNESCO and partners launch new regional report showing serious challenges facing adolescents and young people in Eastern and Southern Africa.

The report brings together a wide range of data on education, HIV, sexual health and gender equality to paint a more detailed picture of the day-to-day realities of adolescents and young people living in 21 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. The findings show that, despite important gains made in reducing the transmission and impact of HIV, there is still a long way to go. Every hour, 50 young people in this region become infected with HIV yet less than 40% of young people have adequate HIV knowledge. Unintended and adolescent pregnancy is a major issue affecting girls and young women with approximately one in five girls aged 17 having already had a child. Gender inequality is still widespread, and girls between the ages of 20 – 24 are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence.

The recommendations in the report are clear: adolescents and young people deserve better, and they need both the education and health sectors to work together and commit to taking bold action. Such bold action includes reviewing, and where necessary amending, policies or laws that that limit access to the education and health services that adolescents and young people need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

Furthermore, countries need to deliver good quality, age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education that starts at primary school and continues through secondary school. Youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services must be made widely available including commodities that will help prevent HIV and pregnancy, including condoms. Many countries provide some level of HIV or life skills education, but this is rarely comprehensive, or provided at an appropriate age. As one young woman quoted in the report says “Sexuality is not about sex. It is about your body, and what happens as you grow.” The report also concludes that gender equality must be prioritised in the delivery of education and health services to ensure that both boys and girls can achieve their full potential.

The report will be launched on 4 October 2013, in Johannesburg, South Africa by representatives of many of the collaborating partners including UNESCO, UNFPA, WHO and UNAIDS. The authors present a vision for the future of a young African, a global citizen of the future, who is healthy, resilient and socially responsible, who is an autonomous decision-maker with the capacity to reach his or her full potential and contribute to the development of their community, country and the region.

Prof. Sheila Tlou, Director, UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa and chairperson of the High Level Group providing leadership for the Young People Today initiative said, “As we approach 2015, it is time for urgent action by our governments, young people and civil society to re-affirm the rights of young people to a better future. We have a duty to make good quality HIV and sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services a reality for all.”

With the mobilization and advocacy efforts of UN partners, NGOs and young people, as well as political commitment from leaders, there is a shared sense of hope that the 21 countries in this region heavily affected by HIV can turn this vision into reality in the coming years.

3 October 2013

Unesco Education Sector

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single-view/news/young_people_today_time_to_act_now/back/9597/#.UlaTYOJ2Fwh