Category Archives: LGBT

Urban population boom poses massive challenges for Africa and Asia

The UN predicts that two-thirds of the world will live in cities by 2050, with 90% of growth taking place in the global south

Population-in-Africa--Con-006

Two-thirds of the world's population will live in cities by 2050, posing unique infrastructural challenges for African and Asian countries, where 90% of the growth is predicted to take place.

The planet's urban population – which overtook the number of rural residents in 2010 – is likely to rise by about 2.5 billion to more than 6 billion people in less than 40 years, according to a UN report. Africa and Asia "will face numerous challenges in meeting the needs of their growing urban populations, including for housing, infrastructure, transportation, energy and employment, as well as for basic services such as education and healthcare", it adds.

Future development targets should focus on creating inclusive cities with adequate infrastructure and services for all residents, said John Wilmoth, director of the UN's population division. "Managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century," he said. "Our success or failure in building sustainable cities will be a major factor in the success of the post-2015 UN development agenda."

The report says rapid urbanisation will bring opportunities for governments to improve access to important services. "Providing public transportation, as well as housing, electricity, water and sanitation for a densely settled population is typically cheaper and less environmentally damaging than providing a similar level of services to a predominantly rural household," it says.

Africa is projected to experience a 16% rise in its urban population by 2050 – making it the most rapidly urbanising region on the planet – as the number of people living in its cities soars to 56%.

The report predicts there will be more than 40 megacities worldwide by 2050,each with a population of at least 10 million. Delhi, Shanghai and Tokyo are predicted to remain the world's most populous cities in 2030, when each is projected to be home to more than 30 million people.

"Several decades ago most of the world's largest urban agglomerations were found in the more developed regions, but today's large cities are concentrated in the global south," the UN says. "The fastest growing urban agglomerations are medium-sized cities and cities with fewer than 1 million inhabitants, located in Asia and Africa."

The world's 3.4 billion-strong rural population will start to decline as urbanisation becomes more common, the report says. The UN projects that rural populations will increase in only a third of countries between 2014 and 2050, as states with large rural communities will take longer to urbanise. "In general, the pace of urbanisation tends to slow down as a population becomes more urbanised," the report says.

The UN cautions that sustainable urbanisation requires cities to generate better income and employment opportunities, and "expand the necessary infrastructure for water and sanitation, energy, transportation, information and communications; ensure equal access to services; reduce the number of people living in slums; and preserve the natural assets within the city and surrounding areas".

Urbanisation has historically taken place in wealthy countries, but such expansion is now happening most rapidly in upper-middle-income countries, where gross national income per capita is between $1,046 and $4,125.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/global-develop​ment/2014/jul/10/urban-population-growth-africa-asia-united-nations

World leaders review progress on Maternal health

PMNCH-Forum_2014_PMNCH

Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway, Co-chair of the MDG Advocates Group, and Graça Machel, Chair of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH), joined world leaders and the reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) community to review progress toward achieving the  Millennium Development Goals focused on women and children’s health, and to identify targets for healthy women and children for the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

 

The high-level panel of the MDG Advocates—a group of eminent personalities working to focus attention on the need to deliver on the vision for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to end poverty by 2030—met in Johannesburg at the 2014 PMNCH Partners’ Forum, cohosted by the Government of South Africa, PMNCH, Countdown to 2015, A Promise Renewed, and the independent Expert Review Group.  The Panel discussed several new reports released at the Forum, including the Countdown to 2015 report for 2014, which tracks progress in the  75 countries that account for the vast majority of maternal and child deaths, and the Success Factors for Women’s and Children’s Health report, which analyzes 10 countries that have made rapid progress toward the MDGs.

 

“Globally, we have made good progress on the MDGs,” said Prime Minister Solberg. “But more can and must be done. With fewer than 550 days until the Millennium Development Goals deadline, time is of the essence to scale up our efforts on behalf of women, children and adolescents.”

 

The leaders called for the new sustainable development agenda to be rights-based, equity focused and to place healthy women, children and adolescents at its core.  Leaders called for the new framework, which will be debated by the UN General Assembly in September, to focus on ending preventable maternal, newborn and child mortality, and to  ensure sexual and reproductive rights, including universal access to quality sexual and reproductive services.

 

Since 1990, both maternal and child mortality have halved and 50 million more children go to school each year. But many challenges remain and further rapid progress on health outcomes will require addressing the multiple determinants of health. For instance, every year 14 million girls are forced into marriage, and in many countries, women and girls still do not have access to adequate education.

 

“Across the world, the rights of women and girls continue to be grossly violated. The burden of poverty on women is ever present.” said Graça Machel.  “Every woman should have access to resources and gain space to assert her aspirations. Nobody should die in child birth. All girls should go to school with their brothers and master the tools for a productive life. ”

 

The Panel also previewed the PMNCH Partners’ Forum Communiqué, which will focus on working across sectors—including education, infrastructure, and economic development—to ensure a comprehensive, broad-based approach to improving women’s and children’s health. The Communique, which was endorsed by the MDG Advocates, called for this comprehensive response to be enshrined in specific new global development goals.

 

“We proved that Innovative Financing can help us to reach the MDGs” said Philippe Douste-Blazy, United Nations Special Advisor on Innovative Financing for Development. “New partners are uniting in South Africa to commit energy and resources towards innovation and saving lives.”

 

Dr. Carole Presern, Executive Director of PMNCH,  said, “Today, we leave with renewed energy to make sure that women, newborns, children and adolescents do not die from easily preventable causes; that sexual and reproductive health and rights are respected and that everyone, everywhere should be able to look forward to a healthy, happy and productive life..”

 

Source: http://www.spyghana.com/world-leaders-review-progress-maternal-health/

Standing together: Reproductive Rights and LGBTQ Rights

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By Jimmy Radosta, Special to PQ Monthly

In the 45 years since the Stonewall riots — where the modern LGBTQ movement was born —we’ve seen extraordinary progress on LGBTQ rights in this country, including last year’s historic ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act and 2011’s repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Here in Oregon we finally achieved marriage equality in May, and we’re one of only five states that have affirmed that transition care for transgender individuals should be considered an essential part of medical coverage.

This progress is rooted in the same principles that underlie reproductive rights: that politicians should not get to decide what you do with your body or what your family looks like, and that rights in this country should not depend on the state you live in.

We at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon believe that reproductive rights are deeply connected to civil rights for all Americans. We have long stood with LGBTQ people in the struggle for full equality — many of whom turn to Planned Parenthood for health care, information and education.

Members of the LGBTQ community face greater obstacles to obtaining and benefiting from sexual and reproductive health services than non-LGBTQ people. In addition to high rates of stress due to systematic harassment and discrimination — which has been shown to affect physical and mental health — LGBTQ people face low rates of health insurance coverage, high rates of HIV/AIDS and cancer, and high rates of discrimination from medical providers. LGBTQ people of color are at an even higher risk for these disparities.

This is why Planned Parenthood health centers throughout Oregon welcome LGBTQ patients for STD testing and treatment, lifesaving cancer screenings, and other preventive services. Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette’s “Equal Access Fund” helps provide gynecological exams for women and trans men who aren’t covered by state pregnancy-prevention funding but meet the same economic requirements.

Planned Parenthood also delivers sex education that covers the full range of topics affecting sexual health, and we provide sensitive and accurate information on sexual orientation and gender identity to Oregonians of all ages every day. Oregon is one of only 12 states to require its sexual health curriculum to be medically accurate. This means that, in the rest of the country, young people are receiving false information about birth control’s effectiveness and the right way to prevent STDs.

While this country has seen significant strides in the LGBTQ movement in recent years, there is still work to be done. This year Oregonians faced the possibility of a ballot measure that could have allowed corporations to deny services to same-sex couples. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule this month on a lawsuit that could allow corporations like Hobby Lobby to deny their employees insurance coverage for birth control because of their personal beliefs. This could create a slippery slope and let bosses deny a whole host of other medical procedures based on their own personal beliefs – such as vaccines, surgeries, blood transfusions and mental health care. The bottom line is this: When secular, for-profit corporations hire and serve the general public, they shouldn’t get to pick and choose which laws to follow. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon vows continued support for any future legislative efforts that will allow for greater access to health care and information for the LGBTQ community in our state.

At Planned Parenthood, we realize that our incredible patients and supporters don’t comprise any one identity, and we’re grateful for the many volunteers, staff and supporters of all genders and identities who work every day to ensure that Oregonians get the health care and information they need.

This year, 45 years after the birth of the modern LGBTQ movement at Stonewall, we are committed now more than ever to fighting for LGBTQ rights. We know the only way we can move forward — all of us together — is by standing side by side.

Jimmy Radosta is the Communications Director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon. For more information visit PPAOregon.org.

 

Source: http://www.pqmonthly.com/standing-together-reproductive-rights-lgbtq-rights/19898

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/

African Voices Celebrate LGBT equality

Calls on state to act as MDG’s deadline nears

ICPD BOB Munyati CPD Post 2015 aids accountability International

Unemployment, maternal health and women inheritance are among challenges yet to be addressed as the deadline for attaining Millennium Development Goals lapses next year. 


In a bid to address such issues, members of G77 Team, an alliance of civil society organisations in Kenya working on areas of population and sexual reproductive health has called on the Government to take necessary measures before the lapse. The lobby has urged the Government to prioritise key services such as family planning, pre and post natal care, treatment of sexually transmitted infections including HIV and provision of quality services for the management of complications arising from abortion. 


The Commission on Population and Development has stressed the importance of integrating population and development into the Post 2015 Development Agenda. 


Health services 


The agenda was discussed during the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) that was adopted by consensus by the UN member states. 


It pointed out that there was need of inclusion of certain fundamental issues like equitable and universal access to quality integrated and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services by including the rights of young people to get comprehensive education on human sexuality. 


Addressing journalists yesterday during a media briefing on the ICPD in Nairobi, programme officer at African Woman and Child Features Services Jane Godia said the media should play its role of creating awareness on population and development. 
“We need to address issues such as sexual reproduction among the youth as most of them engage in sexual activities, putting them at risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. This impends on development as they fail to be reproductive in terms of economic growth”, said Godia. 


She also emphasised on the need to assess if the MGD goals have been able to yield results.


By Maureen Abwao and Brigid Chemweno 
14 May 2014
Source: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000121212&story_title=calls-on-s
tate-to-act-as-mdgs-deadline-nears

Health experts call for integrated approach to HIV and TB in Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe is facing challenges in eliminating tuberculosis (TB) say health experts, who are calling for much greater integration of HIV and TB programmes within the healthcare system.

 

Tremendous progress has been made in minimising the spread of HIV while TB programming is weak in comparison, according to Michael Bartos, UNAIDS country director for Zimbabwe.

 

Strengthening coordination systems

Bartos told a recent workshop for Zimbabwean civil society organisations that there was an urgent need to strengthen coordinating systems across HIV, TB and malaria. The workshop was run by AIDS Accountability International in partnership with Southern Africa AIDS Trust and Zimbabwe AIDS network.

 

“We need, as civil society, to enhance HIV mobilisation to support TB. There is weak mobilisation of communities where it matters. The issue of resources also needs to be addressed if we are to succeed in eliminating the spread of TB,” Bartos said.

 

Civil society priorities

At the workshop, representatives from various HIV groups created a priorities charter as an ‘advocacy road map’ for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria. The top priority was the need for a coordinating mechanism for HIV and TB, according to Dr Gemma Oberth, senior researcher at AIDS Accountability International.

 

“This is because HIV coordinating structures are disproportionately strong, compared with TB civil society networks,” Dr Oberth said.

 

Some of the priorities identified include prevention, treatment, advocacy, care and support, mitigation and stigma reduction.

 

Increase in new TB cases

Zimbabwe is ranked 17 among the 22 countries in the world worst affected by TB, according to a research project commissioned by the World Health Organisation.

 

Victoria James, director of New Dimension Consulting, which carried out the research, said: “The estimated incidence of new TB cases was 633 per 100,000 in 2010 compared to 97 per 100,000 in 1990, reflecting a growing trend. Seventy-five per cent of adult TB cases are reported to be HIV co-infected, while HIV testing in TB is 97 per cent. The treatment rate is very low and civil society needs to focus more on playing a role to address the issues.”

 

She also highlighted some concerns involving new TB diagnoses, which are reported to have increased from 35,340 in 2013 to 38,725 in 2012.

 

Lack of resources

According to Dr Charles Sandy, deputy director of AIDS and TB programmes at the Ministry of Health and Child Care, TB is managed through the routine health system. The government is faced with the challenge of a lack of resources, although it collaborates with local and international partners.

 

“We are dependent on the health delivery system for success of the TB programme. Although we have made some progress in trying to address TB, we are facing challenges of a demotivated health workforce and lack of optimum work performance,” Dr Sandy said.

 

He added that community awareness in addressing TB was low and more resources were needed to address the challenges. Sandy said the government worked with civil society organisations through the Country Coordinating Mechanism and invited them to make suggestions on how they could be more involved.

 

Image: Emmanuel Gasa, a young HIV/AIDS activist working within the civil society and attending workshop, Zimbabwe
© Wallace Mawire

 

Read the Zimbabwe Civil Society Priorities Charter

 

By Wallace Mawire

7 May 2014

Source: http://www.keycorrespondents.org/2014/05/07/health-experts-call-for-integrated-approach-to-hiv-and-tb-in-zimbabwe-2/

South Africa: Minister of Justice launches new programme to help stop anti-gay violence

Jeff Rhadebe

The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development in South Africa has launched a new programme to tackle violence against the country’s LGBT community.

 

According to News24, Jeff Radebe confirmed on Tuesday the introduction of the programme as part of an extension on South Africa’s equality clause, which he acknowledged had not stemmed anti-gay attacks.

 

He said: “Notwithstanding the comprehensive constitutional and legal framework and protection for LGBTI persons, we have sadly witnessed acts of discrimination and violent attacks being perpetrated against LGBTI persons.”

 

Over the past year, a national task team had developed an intervention strategy to deal with hate crime-related violence.

 

Mr Rabede said: “The purpose of the rapid response team is to urgently attend to the pending and reported cases in the criminal justice system where hate crimes have been committed against LGBTI persons.

 

“As a department we have finalised a policy framework with regards to the need for a specific legal framework for hate crimes.”

 

The Minister of Justice first confirmed his department had finalised the draft policy framework last year.

 

By Pink News

24 April 2014
Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/04/29/south-africa-minister-of-justice-launches-new-programme-to-help-stop-anti-gay-violence

India court recognises transgender people as third gender.

India women AIDS Accountability International Transgender

India's Supreme Court has recognised transgender people as a third gender, in a landmark ruling.

"It is the right of every human being to choose their gender," it said in granting rights to those who identify themselves as neither male nor female.

It ordered the government to provide transgender people with quotas in jobs and education in line with other minorities, as well as key amenities.

According to one estimate, India has about two million transgender people.

In India, a common term used to describe transgender people, transsexuals, cross-dressers, eunuchs and transvestites is hijra.

Campaigners say they live on the fringes of society, often in poverty, ostracised because of their gender identity. Most make a living by singing and dancing or by begging and prostitution.

 

Rights groups say they often face huge discrimination and that sometimes hospitals refuse to admit them.

They have been forced to choose either male or female as their gender in most public spheres.

'Proud Indian'

"Recognition of transgenders as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue," Justice KS Radhakrishnan, who headed the two-judge Supreme Court bench, said in his ruling on Tuesday.

"Transgenders are also citizens of India" and they must be "provided equal opportunity to grow", the court said.

"The spirit of the Constitution is to provide equal opportunity to every citizen to grow and attain their potential, irrespective of caste, religion or gender."

The judges asked the government to treat them in line with other minorities officially categorised as "socially and economically backward", to enable them to get quotas in jobs and education.

"We are quite thrilled by the judgement," Anita Shenoy, lawyer for the petitioner National Legal Services Authority (Nalsa), told the BBC.

"The court order gives legal sanctity to the third gender. The judges said the government must make sure that they have access to medical care and other facilities like separate wards in hospitals and separate toilets," she said.

Prominent transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, who was among the petitioners in the case, welcomed the judgement, saying the community had long suffered from discrimination and ignorance in the traditionally conservative country, reports the Agence France-Presse news agency.

"Today, for the first time I feel very proud to be an Indian," Ms Tripathi told reporters outside the court in Delhi.

In 2009, India's Election Commission took a first step by allowing transgenders to choose their gender as "other" on ballot forms.

But India is not the first country to recognise a third gender. Nepal recognised a third gender as early as in 2007 when the Supreme Court ordered the government to scrap all laws that discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. And last year, Bangladesh also recognised a third gender.

Tuesday's ruling comes after the Supreme Court's decision in December which criminalised gay sex by reversing a landmark 2009 Delhi High Court order which had decriminalised homosexual acts.

According to a 153-year-old colonial-era law – Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code – a same-sex relationship is an "unnatural offence" and punishable by a 10-year jail term.

Legal experts say Tuesday's judgement puts transgender people in a strange situation: on the one hand, they are now legally recognised and protected under the Constitution, but on the other hand they may be breaking the law if they have consensual gay sex.

By Yogita Limaye

15 April 2014

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-27031180

US and EU push Africans once more on abortion and homosexuality.

 

UN AIDS Accountability InternationalNEW YORK, April 11, 2014 (C-FAM.org) – Africans are crying foul after wealthy Western countries ambushed them with a draft resolution that re-opens the troublesome issues of abortion and homosexuality in UN negotiations.

 

“You have set a precedent here that will not be forgotten,” said a representative from Cameroon at a briefing three weeks ago. Western countries have proposed a resolution for the annual UN Commission on Population and Development that surreptitiously endorses abortion and homosexuality, even though Africans asked to avoid those controversies.

 

The U.S., European and some Latin countries are increasingly insistent on homosexuality and abortion ahead of negotiations over a new UN development agenda in September, desperate to include homosexuality and abortion in future development efforts.
Africans for their part don’t want to be pressured on these issues, and have repeatedly stated that these are matters best left to countries individually.

 

When powerful western governments made their intentions for the resolution known, the Africans on the commission were furious.

 

The resolution includes references to regional agreements that touch on abortion and sexual orientation and gender identity—contentious issues that do not enjoy universal support at the United Nations. It was prepared by Uruguay, which is chairing the commission this year.

 

During negotiations this week the Africans repeated their position.

 

They don’t want a resolution to touch on substantive issues. They would rather have a resolution that defers to the UN General Assembly with regards to abortion and homosexuality in UN development policies.

 

In 2010 the General Assembly re-committed countries to the development policies agreed to at the 1994 Cairo Conference on Population and Development, and clearly announced that it would not re-negotiate those policies. This year marks the 20thanniversary of the seminal development scheme that made sexual and reproductive health a UN development issue.

The Cairo conference dealt with sexual and reproductive health, but did not include homosexual rights or a right to abortion.
African countries and other developing nations are adamant, now as in 2010, that the Cairo policies should not be re-negotiated or re-interpreted to include abortion and homosexuality.

 

They are worried about re-opening sensitive issues like sexual rights, abortion and homosexuality. The Cairo policies could not have been adopted had they included such rights, and the issues are still controversial 20 years later.

 

In fact, no UN treaty or political document recognizes homosexuality or abortion as rights. The General Assembly has been conspicuously silent on these issues because so many countries still have laws that prohibit and restrict abortion as well as laws that punish sodomy.

 

Together with key allies in Asia and Latin America, Western countries insist that the UN framework must recognize homosexuality and abortion. It is a human rights issue to them.

 

The commission comes on the heels of another UN conference where Western countries had to twist arms in order to get their way with the Africans. It remains to be seen how far they are willing to go this time around.

 

All indications are that Western governments have invested heavily in this meeting. Several of the UN officials and government officials that negotiated the Cairo agreement 20 years ago are at UN headquarters. Abortion groups and UN agencies are also out in force raising the issue of abortion and homosexuality at every turn.

 

By Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
10 April 2014
Source: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/us-and-eu-push-africans-once-more-on-abortion-and-homosexuality/