November 2010's Edition of
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Third Global Population Speak Out Campaign Launched
The Population Institute announced plans in November for the third annual Global Population Speak Out (GPSO). The campaign, which will take place during February of 2011, will help to raise public awareness about population growth and its implications for the environment and sustainability. By dedicating every February as a time to speak out publicly about the implications of population growth, GPSO is giving public voice to the private concerns of leading scientists, academicians, and environmental activists. The first GPSO was organized by John Feeney, an environmental journalist and Colorado activist. In 2010, GPSO recruited over 400 spokespersons from 39 countries. Between now and the February 2011 launch date, Joe Bish, the campaign's director, will be recruiting more scientists and academicians to join the effort.
Plans for Global Petition Drive Announced
The Population Institute announced plans in November to launch a global petition campaign next year to build support for family planning and reproductive health services. The U.N. has set the year 2015 as the target year for achieving universal access to family planning and other reproductive health services, but international support for achieving that goal has fallen short of expectations. The goal of the 2011 petition campaign will be to collect one million online signatures on behalf of a $1 billion increase in the current level of international support for family planning and reproductive health services. The petition, which will be global in scope, will be presented to leaders in the U.S. and other donor nations at the end of the campaign.
Child Marriage Legislation Passes Senate
The Senate unanimously passed the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act on December 1st, a bill to protect women and girls in developing countries from child marriages. The bill, sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), would authorize the President to provide assistance to prevent the incidence of child marriage and promote the educational, health, economic, social, and legal empowerment of girls. The State Department is required to come up with a multi-year strategy to prevent child marriage and promote the empowerment of young girls who are at risk of child marriage.
The Vatican Adjusts it’s Stance on Condoms
After decades of silence and condemnation the Vatican has modified it position on using condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS. The shift, while it stops short of what is needed, represents a significant step forward. Just last summer, Pope Benedict caused an international uproar when on a trip to Africa he told journalists that condoms should not be used because they could increase the spread of AIDS. Now, however, he indicates that using condoms is less evil than risking HIV exposure. While the Pope's comments do not go as far as those fighting HIV/AIDS would like, and the Vatican still forbids the use of condoms for family planning purposes, the remarks still constitute a major departure.
FAO Warns of Another Food Crisis
The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released the latest edition of its Food Outlook report in November and warned that international food import bills could pass the one trillion dollar mark, and that the world should "prepare for harder times ahead unless production of major food crops increases significantly in 2011." The FAO’s report cited poor harvests as the principal reason for the latest food crisis. In June of this year, the FAO forecast that world cereal production would rise by 1.2 percent, but the latest report indicates that it will contract by 2.0 percent. The FAO's outlook is consistent with another forecast issued earlier by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
16 Days to End Violence Against Women
Women suffer from myriad forms of violence in their everyday lives anything from rape and sexual harassment to child marriage to female genital mutilation/cutting to 'honor' killings. Every year between the International Day to End Violence Against Women (November 25th) and Human Rights Day (December 10th) the campaign 16 Days to End Violence Against Women takes place highlighting the many ways that women experience violence and connects women's rights to human rights. This year the United Nations Population Fund is focusing on 16 forms of violence against women and highlighting 16 ways to prevent it.
Senate Holds First Hearing on CEDAW in Eight Years
On November 18th the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law held a hearing on the Convention for the Elimination of All Form of Violence against Women (CEDAW). This was the first hearing in eight years on CEDAW, which is an international human rights treaty that focuses exclusively on women's rights and gender equality. The convention sets a global definition for discrimination against women and outlines a plan to end that discrimination. Those states that ratify the convention are required to take, "all appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men."
Philippine President Pushes Family Planning Legislation
In a sharp departure from his predecessor's stance, Philippine President Benigno Aquino is pushing for passage of a national family planning bill that would provide free access to contraceptives. The bill, which faces an uphill fight in the Philippine Senate, has re-ignited a national debate over family planning. Leaders of the Catholic Church have vowed to block passage. Although the measure has popular support, efforts to pass family planning legislation have been blocked in the Philippine Congress for 14 years. Aquino's administration sees family planning and reproductive health programs as integral parts of its effort to combat poverty.