This month we celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8 and the kick-off of the 59th UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Both of these events happen every year. But this year is special.
2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the landmark framework on women’s health and rights. This is where our rallying cry, “women’s rights are human rights,” originated (though the concept has been around a lot longer than 20 years!). It’s also the basis of our My Body My Rights campaign, which seeks to accelerate progress on comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights, issues that still have a long way to go. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
NCBH was regarded as a national model for its innovative and compassionate care practices (Photo By BSIP/UIG via Getty Images).
By Nan Strauss, Former Amnesty International USA Researcher
With just three days notice, the North Central Bronx Hospital (NCBH)’s Labor and Delivery service was shuttered after thirty-six years providing quality maternity care to 1500 women and babies a year. The award-winning midwife-led program at NCBH was regarded as a national model for its innovative and compassionate care practices, meeting the needs of at-risk women in an under-served community.
Eliminating NCBH’s successful program will reduce the quality of care and options available in this under-served community. The woman-centered, midwifery model of care practiced at NCHB is especially effective in addressing the health disparities faced by women of color and low-income women, but will no longer be an option in the area.
The closure will make it more difficult for low-income women to access care, increasing travel time and costs, and will end community-based care in the area. Surrounding hospitals that will be forced to absorb the additional 1500 births each year are already stretched thin.
After over two months of dragging its feet, the Salvadoran government has finally acted to save Beatriz’s life. On Monday, Beatriz, the young mother we’ve posted frequently about, received an early cesarean section and is now recovering in the hospital.
Our activism helped to save Beatriz’s life.
The hundreds of thousands of people around the world who mobilized on Beatriz’s behalf helped make it possible for her to – upon recovery – be able to return home to her family which is what she has wanted all along. Because of this overwhelming support, Beatriz was never alone in her struggle to access the medical care she wanted and needed.
There has been an overwhelming amount of global support over the past few weeks for Beatriz and those in El Salvador working tirelessly on her behalf to save her life. Much of this support has emerged online via Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other outlets. Because of these digital tools, countless people are closely following events unfold in El Salvador and calling on the authorities to uphold their international human rights obligations by immediately granting Beatriz authorization for an abortion.
Will Salvadoran authorities listen to Beatriz’s plea and take action to save her life in accordance with her wishes and at the advice of the medical professionals caring for her?
Women’s human rights activists gather in El Salvador to demand Beatriz is granted the life-saving treatment she needs (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).
As you’re reading this, the Salvadoran authorities are STILL biding their time discussing the merits of Beatriz’s case, the young mother we posted about earlier this month. While she’s in the hospital experiencing early stage kidney failure, the authorities are holding the key to her life that is quickly fading.
We’ve promised updates on this case. Unfortunately, we know that Beatriz has been subjected to another week of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and have no news regarding action by the authorities to save her life – in accordance with her wishes, and the recommendation of the health professionals responsible for her care.
Imagine you are in a hospital. You have lupus and you are experiencing kidney complications as a result. You have a one-year old son at home who was delivered by cesarean section weeks early because of pregnancy-related health complications. You’re pregnant again, and have been diagnosed as high-risk.
You found out after three sonograms your fetus is anencephalic, meaning that a portion of the fetus’s brain - consisting mainly of the cerebral hemispheres including the neo-cortex - doesn’t exist. With very few exceptions, fetuses with anencephaly do not make it to term and none survive infancy.
As you may have read recently on this blog, Beatriz from El Salvador is 4.5 months pregnant and suffers from lupus and other medical conditions, including kidney disease related to lupus. She also suffered serious complications during her previous pregnancy, resulting in her being deemed at high-risk of maternal mortality should this pregnancy progress. Three scans of her fetus have confirmed it is anencephalic (lacking a large part of the brain and skull). Almost all babies with anencephaly die before birth or within a few hours or days after.
There is a great deal of evidence backing this up.
Every year, 40 billion working hours are lost to water collection worldwide, mostly by women and girls. This violates their rights to employment and education by taking up time and energy; and their rights to safety and dignity by exposing them to injury, animal attack, and physical and sexual violence. Since the water they collect is usually unsafe (if it were safe, chances are they wouldn’t have to walk far to get it, because a tap would be available near home), it violates their right to health, exposing them to Neglected Tropical Diseases, diarrhea, even uterine prolapse from carrying heavy loads.
Lack of sanitation and safe drinking water violates the right to safe and adequate housing. Combined with poor hygiene, it makes people sick because they ingest fecal matter without even knowing it, creates breeding grounds for insects carrying diseases like trachoma, and contaminates water sources; water-borne illnesses impact children most, keeping more kids from school and causing trauma for the many parents whose children don’t survive these diseases, up to 2,000 each day.
Because of discrimination, violence against women, less access to education, and an intersection of additional human right abuses, women and girls are disproportionately affected when sexual and reproductive rights are denied (Photo credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images).
By Tarah Demant, Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group
Complications during pregnancy and childbirth, gender-based violence and AIDS are among the leading causes of mortality for young people. Complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 in developing countries.
Mao Hengfeng, a human rights defender in China, a wife, and a mother of three, has just been released from her most recent bout of detention and torture — an experience so brutal that her life is at urgent risk.
Her crime? Advocating on behalf of women’s reproductive rights, the victims of forced evictions in Shanghai, and other Chinese human rights defenders.
Mao’s most recent arrest was a result of her protest in front of the Beijing municipal intermediate court expressing support for human rights activist and Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo. On March 4, 2010, Mao was sentenced to 18 months in Re-education Through Labor.