The President of the United States Will Decide Women's Choice Globally

By Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO

During the first presidential debate, neither President Obama nor Governor Romney addressed the issue that affects half the world's population: women's reproductive rights. As the two square off on foreign policy, women's reproductive rights must be addressed because whomever becomes president will not only determine U.S. women's personal, economic and educational choices, but also those of women worldwide.

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Her WILD Adventure

by Michele Kumi Baer

“What do you think about women with disabilities?” asked Sarah, a Nigerian woman living with a visual disability.

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Disability rights activist, Julien from Zambia, and Global Fund's Michele Kumi Baer at MIUSA 2012.

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Welcome Jane Sloane

The Global Fund for Women is pleased to announce the appointment of Jane Sloane as the new Vice President of Programs. Jane will start later this summer.

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Global Fund for Women President and CEO, Musimbi Kanyoro says, “Jane’s global experience in organizational management, strategic partnerships, policy and program design will accelerate our work as true catalysts of change. Jane embraces the future of where we are going. We will be speaking more boldly about our collective impact; taking into account the experience of 25 years and $100 million in grantmaking to women-led organizations.”

Jane currently serves as Vice President of Development with Women’s World Banking (WWB) in New York City – an organization that, through its 39 network partners, provides microfinance and to 26 million people, 80% of whom are women. Jane said her WWB experience revealed the importance of integrating financial literacy and access to savings with education and health programs and that autonomy begins with economic autonomy.

“We need a new economic model with gender equality at the center. We need to value - and measure - care giving and make this visible. We need to create supply and demand for labor and we need a model of growth with employment. We need to give women the economic autonomy to escape from domestic violence. We need to make better use of women’s education and we need to advocate for greater flexibility of male and female roles in order to best support women across the globe to thrive rather than just survive.”

“We need a new economic model with gender equality at the center.”

Prior to WWB, Jane was Executive Director of the International Women’s Development Agency. One of her major achievements was leading an Asia Pacific Breakthrough initiative with the Women, Faith and Development Alliance that attracted almost $1.2 billion in funding commitments to benefit women and girls in the Asia Pacific region.

In addition to her to her professional qualifications, Jane brings visibility to the Pacific and the small island states, many of which have been long-time grantees of the Global Fund for Women.

“As an Australian, I’ve spent a lot of time with Aboriginal women and I’ve learnt a great deal about their Dreaming stories,” says Jane, “This includes ‘Seven Sisters Dreaming’ a myth about a group of stars visible in the night sky and also known in Aboriginal culture as feisty, fun and fabulous females for whom the sky was not the limit. The Global Fund has the ability to bring together so many geographically and culturally diverse organizations, and to galvanize the efforts of these organizations so they can have far greater impact collectively than they would individually.”

Jane was also the founding CEO of the Social Entrepreneurs Network and has held executive positions for several social sector organizations including World Vision and Marie Stopes International.

Jane holds a Masters degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Sydney and a BA (Hons History) from the University of Adelaide. She serves on the Board of the International Women’s Funding Network and is a Patron of Marie Stopes International.

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Contraception Revisited, Again?

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By Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO

Family planning is about women choosing if and when to have children. It’s about women having safe pregnancies and being supported in their choices. Preventing and ending the transfer of HIV/AIDS from mother to child is about women having access to the power of information about their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

When we talk about family planning and creating an AIDs-free world, the key actors should be women. The key factors should be women’s rights and women’s choice.

At the London Summit on Family Planning, I am hopeful that we can indeed change the world.

The Summit will only succeed if we remember that family planning saves lives. We live in a time when women’s reproductive rights are contested. The “language of rights” was edited out of the outcomes of Rio+20, and in the U.S., the “war on women” means contraception is increasingly under attack. How did we get to this point? Or as Melinda Gates asked in her recent article: “where’s the controversy in saving lives?”

The UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and UN Population Fund (UNFPA), along with those in attendance, have the power to shift the earth on its axis and put women, their rights and choices, front and center. Women are critical in reducing poverty, boosting economic growth and agricultural productivity, promoting children’s development, and realizing sustainable development.

To ensure that the investment spearheaded by the Gates Foundation and DFID enhances governments’ commitments to meet family planning and HIV/AIDS obligations, a rights based approach must be used. This includes the right to protection from violence and harm; the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress; right to education and information, food, shelter, jobs, and self-determination. A human rights approach includes all women and all rights, without exception.

The health of women is an important marker for the health, security, and well being of a nation. Advancing the health of women cannot be achieved without increasing access to quality family planning, and protecting women from all forms of gender based violence, including that which women face in health care settings. When women have access to family planning information, programs, and supplies in a safe and secure environment, and with respect and dignity, they are able to plan and space their births as they and their families determine. Quality family planning is also associated with significant decrease in maternal newborn and child death, and abortion related morbidity and mortality. Every child needs and deserves a living, happy, healthy, and safe mother.

 

Rio+20: A Blind Eye Towards Women

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By Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO

Who thinks women’s health and human rights are radical, dangerous, and controversial? Apparently, powers-that-be at the Rio+20 environmental summit.

Their refusal to include sexual and reproductive health in the final agreement is a deterrent to sustainable development, the economy, and education. It also contradicts other UN agreements and most significantly, the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which prioritized the empowerment and health of women and girls. ICPD clearly affirmed the right of women and girls to quality sexual and reproductive health care, AND their integral role in building a sustainable environment.

We agreed then, that the empowerment of women and making sexual and reproductive health a reality for women was the simplest path to a sustainable earth; it was a major step forward.

The Rio+20 agreement is a leap backwards. While there are references to Cairo and Beijing agreements on sexual and reproductive health, there is no reference to reproductive rights in the final agreement—where it really matters.

How did this happen? We can count the ways. But in the interest of time and space, I’ll focus on two that stand out to me.

The first is a well-organized religious contingent whose ultimate goal is to change the language and message of the ’94 ICPD conference. Most interesting is the Holy See (the Vatican). Is it that the Holy See prefers not to see the human rights of women, or does it not believe the human rights of women are holy enough? In light of the allegations within the Catholic Church around the sexual abuse of children, what moral authority does the Vatican have to be lobbying against women’s health? To be fair, the Holy See was not a lone rider here, several other countries, including Egypt and Syria, were part of their posse.

Second, opponents argued that gender equality and women’s human rights (including reproductive rights) have nothing to do with sustainable development, and in fact detract from the really “important issues” like trade, financing, and the green economy. Tell that to the National Center for Atmospheric Research. It’s recent study shows that a reduction of 8 to 15 percent of essential carbon emissions can be obtained by providing family planning to all women who want it. This reduction would be equivalent to stopping all deforestation or increasing the world’s use of wind power forty-fold.

Women are not asking for the world. They just ask that our leaders open their eyes, do the right thing, and take a giant leap forward.

 
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