Monday, January 28, 2013

Girl Rising: A Better Life Begins in School

If one thing was made clear by the scale of the recent anti-child slavery demonstration of 200,000 young people in the Burmese capital Rangoon, it is that regimes can repress for a time but they cannot maintain their repression indefinitely. The marches show that while children may disappear one by one into slavery, sold off by relatives or neighbours, becoming in effect invisible people - the victims' cries for help cannot be silenced forever, and eventually the truth will out.
The protests by girls planed for February across Africa and Asia show that while men may try to stereotype women as second-class citizens, truth will travel faster than lies -- and that girls are fighting back, connecting with other girls on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
So, in 2013, we are we are starting to move from decades of adult complacency, dominated by a false assumption that progress to end child exploitation -- whether it be child labour, forced marriage, or discrimination against girls -- was somehow inexorable and only a matter of time. The next stage is for girls, who have been the victims of the world's inaction for so long, to force the world to see that change will only happen if it is made to happen.
And what's happened so dramatically in India and Pakistan is also happening elsewhere as the power of girls takes on a new form. Even before the Indian rape, Nepal had been witnessing widespread demonstrations condemning violence against women. In Burma, a campaign against child trafficking brought 200,000 young people to that country's first open-air pop concert of modern times. And again in India, a march against child labour was led by 100 boys and girls who at ages as young as 8, 9 and 10 had been rescued from bonded labour.
But perhaps even more significant is the growth in Bangladesh of 'child marriage-free zones'. Here girls themselves declare that they will not be forced into marriage, and demand that, through their community, their right to say 'no' is upheld. They assert that in their area not just they themselves but all girls will be protected from early marriage against their will.
The new self-conscious assertion by girls of their collective rights is the shape of the year to come. Given that so many female rights in so many countries have been promised and yet have still to be established -- the right to a childhood free of marriage, the right to go to school, the right to be protected against violence -- then the Bangladeshi movement is one that is likely to spread to the rest of the continent.
Laws will have to change, to guarantee girls' rights in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (adopted in 1979). UNICEF has collaborated with the NGO Working Group for Girls, an international network of 400 non-governmental organisations, as well as many other civil society organisations, specialised agencies and professional media groups to push for girls' empowerment.
But the quickest and most effective advance we could secure immediately is to move girls out of exploitation and into education. Before Malala was shot she was planning to link her call for universal girls' education to a demand for an end to the child labour that imprisons girls in everything from cocoa farms to domestic service, and can hold them back from schooling. Thirty-two million girls do not even get to first grade in primary school. In 2013 we could target the off-track countries -- Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and the conflict-affected countries of Yemen, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo -- and make big progress.
Of course, the issues will now be fought out on the streets and on the airwaves, but the hallmark of 2013 is already clearly visible: it is the year when a new form of female empowerment will not only change the way we see the world, but finally deliver rights that have been denied for too long -- and that starts with every girl's right to an education.
This is the third in a series of blogs by Gordon Brown written from WEF in Davos, looking at the growing global empowerment of young women.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pakistan’s contraceptive performance increases by 0.7%

ISLAMABAD: The contraceptive performance of Pakistan during financial year 2011-12 in terms of Couple Year of Protection (CYP) has increased by 0.7 percent in comparison with the corresponding period of the financial year 2010-11, according to the latest contraceptive performance report issued by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
The term Couple Years of Protection (CYP) is one of several commonly used indicators to assess internationally the family planning efforts. It is the protection provided by contraceptive methods during one-year period, based upon the volume of all contraceptives sold or distributed to clients during that period. It is also an indirect estimator of birth control.
According to report, the Province-wise profile of CYP indicates an increase in Punjab (11.4 percent) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (12.1 percent), while decrease in Sindh (8.8 percent) and Balochistan (6.4 percent) whereas an increase of 19.5 percent witnessed in the district Islamabad. The Contraceptive Performance of Population Welfare Departments and NGOs have also shown an increase of 6.9 percent and 3.8 percent respectively, as compared with the previous year. Method-wise comparison of CYP, shows increase in Oral Pills (7.2 percent) and IUDs (8.8 percent) while decrease in Condoms (7.7 percent), Injectable (9.7 percent) and Contraceptive Surgery (11.7 percent) is observed, the report maintained.
According to data, Outlet-wise CYP depicts an increase of 8.1 percent in Family Welfare Centers (FWCs), 29.0 percent in Reproductive Health Services-A Centers (RHS-A), 6.8 percent in Mobile Service Units (MSUs),  15.8 percent in Hakeems and Homeopaths (H&H), 8.7 percent in Male Mobilizers (MM), 7.4 percent in  Registered  Medical  Practioners  (RMPs), 37.4 percent  in  FATA,  8.6 percent  in  Family Planning  Association of  Pakistan  (FPAP).  The performance  has  decreased  by  46.3 percent  in RHS-B, 9.8 percent  in Provincial  Line  Departments (PLDs), 2.9 percent  in  AJK,  12.0 percent  in  Gilgit-Baltistan, 0.8 percent in Regional Training Institutes (RTIs), 22.3 percent in Marie Stopes Society of Pakistan and 13.5 percent in Social Marketing of Contraceptives (SMC).
The overall Contraceptive  Prevalence  Rate (CPR)  on  the  basis  of  modern  methods during 2011-12  is  23.20 percent. The  provinces  make  the  rising  sequence  of  CPR  as Balochistan  (6.33 percent),  Sindh  (13.09 percent),  Punjab  (15.60 percent)  and  Khyber  Pakhtunkhwa (17.45 percent). The highest CPR is observed in the Federal district Islamabad (36.09 percent).
The  CPR  is  the  percentage  of  women  who  are  practicing,  or  whose  sexual  partners  are practicing, any form of contraception. It is usually measured for married women age 15-49 years only.  The  Contraceptive Prevalence  Rate  (CPR)  of  Pakistan  is  calculated  on  the  basis  of consumption of contraceptive by converting number of units sold into users.
In absolute terms, the contraceptive performance of program and non-program service outlets have reported  a  sale  of 149.278 million  units  of  Condoms, 6.223 million  cycles  of  Oral Pills, 1.315 million  insertions  of  Internal  Uterine Devices  (IUDs) and 2.705 million  vials  of Injectables.  Also 119,582 Contraceptive  Surgery (CS)  cases have  been performed  during  the financial year 2011-12.
At  national  level,  method-wise comparison  during  2011-12 over 2010-11,  in  terms of CYP, has shown an increase in Oral Pills (7.2 percent) and IUDs (8.8 percent) whereas a decrease of 7.7 percent in Condoms,  9.7 percent  in  Injectables  and  11.7 percent  in  Contraceptive  Surgery  (CS)  cases  has  been observed.
The Contraceptive Performance Report was prepared on the basis of data received from Provincial Population Welfare Departments (PPWDs), Population Welfare Departments AJK, GB and FATA, the District Population Welfare Office, ICT, Islamabad, Family Planning Association of Pakistan (FPAP) , Marie  Stopes Society of Pakistan (NGO), Social Marketing of Contraceptive (SMC), Regional Training Institutes (RTIs) and Public-private Partnership(PPP)/Target Groups Institutes(TGIs).
Posted by:  Posted date: January 23, 2013

Don’t shy away from the ‘talk’: Your children deserve sex-education

I believe it would be better if, instead of exposing their children to such disparate and wild information, parents have an honest talk. PHOTO: REUTERS
Due to some myopic stigmas related to sexual and reproductive health rights issues in our country, parents normally refrain from discussing such topics with children. The result is that sometimes children without awareness have extreme trouble in dealing with this.
I appreciate those parents who consider it important to equip their children with knowledge about the physical changes they go through, while hitting puberty. But there are many parents who do not discuss such issues with them, considering it obnoxious.
Thus, their children are left with no other option but to either consult their friends or log on to websites to explore this topic. Here, they either acquire information in a positive or negative manner. The negative one can either make them a victim or an offender of abuse.
These are the same parents who have no objection to their children listening to private radio channels or watching the television channels where, under the banner of ‘modern enlightenment’, all sorts of information is being disseminated in a questionable manner.
The parents also allow their children to carry cell phones or laptops through which they can easily access the Internet and log on to any website to satisfy their craving for information of any type.
I believe it would be better if, instead of exposing their children to such disparate and wild information, parents have an honest talk.
I came across two cases once, while writing an article on abuse.
In one case, a person was shattered when she was divorced by her husband when he found out that she had been abused. Her mother never taught her how to protect herself physically, causing the woman to experience much psychological trauma.
For another person, the molester was her nine-year-old brother. When she was older and finally built up the courage to say no, he assaulted her. One day, she discovered a diaper rash on her one-year-old baby girl, which brought back traumatic memories. She opened up to her husband about why she broke down, hoping that he would help her come to terms with her traumatic childhood.
Unfortunately, he divorced her instead.
At various seminars and workshops on sexual reproductive health and rights, health experts and civil society members suggested including this topic in the educational curriculum. They believe that this will help to educate people in a manner that could greatly benefit our society.
In response to this a well-known gender specialist, informed the audience that there are many teachers who are reluctant and feel uneasy to teach such topics considering them to be bold and inappropriate, bearing Pakistan’s conservative society in mind.
He quoted an example of a senior biology teacher at a school in Multan who quit a chapter on reproductive health as he felt uncomfortable to teach this to his students – especially to females.
I believe this is due to the generation gap. There are many parents who feel uneasy to talk to their children about sexual reproductive health issues.  Even if a child asks his parents about how he was born, parents consider it to be strange and feel that this information is inappropriate for children. Thus, the induce the stigma that such topics are ‘vile’ and condition their children to believe that discussing such ‘vulgar’ topics makes one a bad person.
Such an attitude of parents, forces their children to learn about such things from other sources mainly, their friends or the internet. As we all know, the internet can be a dangerous place for such discussion. If a search goes wrong, children may fall in to the hands of sexual predators and this could lead to a lot of trauma. It is painfully easy to fall in to such a trap – countless stories exist where, in their innocence, children have not even realised that they have been taken advantage of.
Why let it come to this point?
I believe that a father can easily teach his son and a mother, her daughter, about the physical changes they will have to go through while hitting puberty. If they think they cannot, then they can ask other close family members to teach their growing children or purchase books or CD’s which are attested and specifically geared towards this task.
Parents should also be given training on such issues, not only in urban areas, but in rural areas where people are completely unaware of such things.
As compared to urban areas, children in rural areas are more likely to become a victim of sexual abuse. This is due to the child labour at bus stands, roadside hotels, shops and factories. These children are sexually abused and this affects them psychologically and physically.
Furthermore, these children grow up to become molesters in their attempt to avenge their own childhood trauma.
Now the real question is, how to teach this to a nation who is not even ready to talk about controlling AIDs?
Posted by Sehrish Wasif on etribune blogs