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UN News Centre reported March 8 that the United Nations system marked International Women’s Day with the focus on ending impunity for violence against women and girls. The story noted that UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said that while progress has been made in the adoption of laws, much greater action is needed to ensure laws are enforced. “Everyone should understand that violence against women and girls is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated,” she said. Read: UN News Centre: March 8a, March 8b

Associated Press reported March 8 that at the U.N. commemoration of International Women's Day, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged all nations to end "the pandemic" of violence against girls and women by working to change cultural practices and attitudes that tolerate beatings, sexual attacks and other abusive acts. The story noted that according to UNFPA, 5,000 women die every year in "honor killings" perpetrated by male relatives to restore family honor after women have been raped, had affairs out of wedlock, or married against the family's wishes. Read: Associated Press 

Agence France-Presse reported March 8 that on International Women’s Day, U.N. war crimes court chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte highlighted key lessons learnt from her tribunal's probe of sexual violence during the Balkans wars of the 1990's. The story mentioned that Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA executive director, said: "Despite some progress with laws against violence (against women); much greater action is needed to ensure that they are enforced. Everyone should understand that violence against women and girls is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated." She added, "Together, we can ensure that all those who respond to violence against women – including police officers, judges, lawyers, immigration officials, medical personnel, or social workers – are sensitized and trained to provide a response that is compassionate and comprehensive." 

Afghanistan: Agence France-Presse reported March 8 that Afghanistan's rampant insecurity is holding back efforts to improve the lives of women five years after the fall of the Taliban. At an event in Kabul to mark International Women's Day, UNFPA Program Officer Hossai Wardak said, “[Insecurity is] affecting women a great deal because the programs cannot be taken to some of parts of provinces." Wardak added, "We used to have offices with women workers in the provinces but now they are not coming to work because they are getting threats."

Africa: IRIN reported March 7 on the International Women’s Day launch of its publication, “The Shame of War: sexual violence against women and girls in conflict.” The story noted that UNDP, OHCHR, UNHCR, OCHA, UNIFEM, UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA and DPKO have joined forces to improve the quality of programming to address sexual violence, to increase the coordination of efforts for comprehensive prevention and response services, and to improve accountability. Read: IRIN 

Argentina: Diario Buenos Aires reported March 6 that Chancellor Jorge Taiana led International Women’s Day activities in San Martin Palace. Maria Del Carmen Feijoo, UNFPA representative in Argentina, also participated in the event. Read: Diario Buenos Aires 

Bangladesh: United News of Bangladesh reported March 8 that on International Women's Day the county vowed to establish women’s rights. The story noted that with UNFPA assistance, folk song sessions were held at 26 points in the capital. Read: The Nation 

Brazil: UN News Centre reported March 7 that on the eve of International Women’s Day the Brazilian government, UNFPA, UNIFEM, UNICEF and other partners launched a program aimed at stemming the “feminization of HIV,” by raising awareness about the disease and helping women become less vulnerable to it. “Only by addressing the specific needs, as well as the human rights of women, will we change the course of the epidemic,” said Alanna Armitage, UNFPA’s representative in Brazil, asserting that the program will “make a real difference in women’s lives.” Read: UN News Centre 

Cameroon: The Cameroon Tribune reported March 8 that Cameroon joined the international community in celebrating International Women's Day by calling upon by the government and NGOs to denounce all forms of violence against women. The story noted that international organizations such as the WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, organized activities on women’s rights and the effects of violence against women. 

Comores: Agence Comorienne de Presse reported March 8  on a celebration held by the government of the Comores in honor of International Women’s Day.  The article cited the statement of Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director ofUNFPA, which noted that much progress had been made in bringing an end to violence against women, but that “much greater action is needed to ensure that laws are enforced and awareness is raised.” The story noted that the Comores have taken significant legal steps towards protecting women from violence.  A new family law was adopted in 2004, and posts have been established on each of the nation’s islands to provide children who have been victims of violence with a place to come and tell their stories.   

Democratic Republic of Congo: L'Observateur and Le Potentiel reported March 5, 6,7 and 8 on a big media campaign to address violence against women, launched in connection with International Women's Day, and with the support of UNFPA. The coverage carried the statement of Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director ofUNFPA, which stated that "violence against women and girls is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated."

Dominican Republic: On International Women’s Day, The Dominican Today’s March 8 story quoted Gilka Meléndez, UNFPA representative, as saying in the past few years, the country has significantly improved the living conditions of women by creating the Ministry of the Woman. Read: Dominican Today 

Europe: Inter Press Service reported March 8 that a study released on International Women’s Day found that women in the European Union are still a long way from achieving equality with men – a goal laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The story noted that UNFPA estimates some four million women worldwide have fallen into the hands of international human trafficking organizations. Reads: Inter Press Service 

Haiti: Alterpresse published a March 7 excerpt from a statement on International Women’s Day from Thoraya Amhed Obaid, UNFPA Executive Director. Read: Alterpresse, Television Nationale d'Haiti 

India: Press Trust of India reported March 7 that on International Women’s Day, Sonia Gandhi unfurled a flag on women's empowerment designed by Farook Ambalapurathe of UNFPA. Minister of State for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury and Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar attended the event. Read: Press Trust of India, The Hindu 

Jamaica: Jamaica Observer reported March 8 that in a statement on International Women's Day, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller called on all Jamaicans to reflect on the positive developments women have made, but cautioned that there was still more to be done. The story noted that Harold Robinson, UNFPA representative for the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, said, "UNFPA pays tribute to the men and women who are working to change the situation." He added, “We acknowledge efforts by the Jamaican Government to address this problem with the passage of the Domestic Violence Act and introduction of other important pieces of legislation, such as an Act to amend the Offences Against the Person Act to make the response to sexual offences more gender sensitive and the Child Care and Protection [Act] to name a few." Read: Jamaica Observer

Madagascar: L'Express ansd several other newspapers reported March 9 about gender based violence and discrimination in connection with the International Women's Day, stating that also in Madagascar women are often ashamed to admit or report violence. Among the many events on IWD was a street parade with scenes illustrating women's rights. Many people  welcomed the free distibution of condoms organized by UNFPA and the Ministry of Health. Read: L'Express  

Nepal: Nepal News reported March 8 that on International Women’s Day Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA executive director, said, “UNFPA will continue to work within the United Nations system and with governments and civil society to put national action plans in place that prevent and address violence against women.” She added, “We will continue to promote human rights, including the right to sexual and reproductive health, women’s empowerment and gender equality.” Read: Nepal News 

Nicaragua: El Nuevo Diario reported March 8 on International Women’s Day in the country and mentioned that according to data provided by UNFPA there are more than one billion adolescents between 10 and 19 years-old. The story also noted that 85 percent of these adolescents are in developing countries facing multiple sexual and reproductive health risks. Read: El Nuevo Diario 

Pacific: PacNews reported March 8 that Najib Assifi, UNFPA representative for the Pacific and country director of technical services, said violence against women is a matter of great concern for all of us. The story noted that studies to assess the levels and impact of violence against women in the Pacific will be carried out in Kiribati and Solomon Islands by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and UNFPA with funding from AUSAID and UNFPA. The story mentioned UNFPA recently released a report, Programming to address Violence against Women—10 cases studies, showing that violence against women can be stopped. 

Pakistan: Inter Press Service’s March 8 story on International Women’s Day identified criticisms of women's centers that are deserted and hardly a place for women to bare their woes. The story noted that with partial funding from UNFPA, these centers are run by the federal government. Of the four in the province of Sindh, only the centre in Karachi is functional. Read: Inter Press Service

Peru: El Peruano’s March 8 story reported on the country’s observance of International Women’s Day, “Women in the Streets.” The event, sponsored by UNFPA, included “the speaking corner” where participants could tell their stories and experiences, folkloristic national dance and an exhibition of wooden decorations that expressed the multifaceted works of Peruvian women. Similarly, the theatre play “For us” was put on stage to promote solidarity towards female victims of sexual violence. Other outlets reporting on the story include Canal 9, La Republica and Radio Programme Perù.

Philippines: The Manila Bulletin’s March 8 story mentioned UNFPA’s report released on International Women’s Day that said at least one in every five women will become a victim of rape and one out of three will be subjected to violence and sexual abuse in her life span.

The Sun Star reported March 11 that Senate President Manuel Villar mentioned that according to UNFPA’s report released on International Women’s Day, an average of 20 cases of violence against women are reported everyday in the country. Villar said UNFPA’s report reveals that at least one in every five women will become a victim of rape and one out of three will be subjected to violence and sexual abuse in her life span in the country. Read: Sun Star 

Seychelles: The Seychelles Nation reported March 8 that the Minister for Employment & Social Affairs, Marie-Pierre Lloyd, was in Spain to attend the International Meeting Spain-Africa under the theme “Women for Better World” to celebrate International Women’s Day. The story noted that officials from sustainable development organizations such as NEPAD and UNFPA made presentations on issues affecting women and development. Read: The Seychelles Nation 

Uganda: New Vision reported March 7 that Uganda President Museveni presided over International Women's Day ceremonies. The story noted that UNFPA’s Program Officer in Uganda, Brenda Mallinga, explained that several development and humanitarian programs for women, especially those in Karamoja, were underway. Read: New Vision 

The Daily Monitor reported March 8 that on International Women’s Day, UNFPA Program Officer in Uganda, Brenda Malinga, said that the magnitude of violence is not known it varies from region to region. “In the northern region for example, most women suffer sexual violence like rape while in others like eastern Uganda, many young girls are subjected to inhuman acts like female genital mutilation,'' she said. Read: Daily Monitor 

West Africa: IRIN reported March 7 that according to a 2005 report by UNICEF despite some advances in the rights of women and girls in West Africa, underage marriage continues to be prevalent in the region. The story noted that to mark International Women's Day, UNFPA and other women's rights groups say that girls who marry young are more vulnerable to domestic violence. Read: IRIN 

Yemen: Yemen Times reported March 7 that Yemen celebrated International Women’s Day by holding a two-day event reflecting on women’s conditions in the Arab world, with an emphasis on women in the media, as well as the U.N. report on women’s development. The story mentioned UNFPA’s press statement confirming its commitment to working with partners to combat discrimination and violence against women and girls. Read: Yemen Times 


UN News Centre reported February 26 that a new study by UNFPA shows that community-based interventions aimed at halting violence against women can yield significant results. “What is unusual about this manual is that we have actually demonstrated how entire communities can change their attitudes to violence against women as a result of a few, specifically targeted interventions,” said UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid. “What we learned is that persistent advocacy targeting community leaders and the larger public can bring about huge changes in a relatively short time.” The lessons from the 10 case studies are distilled in a companion booklet, Ending Violence against Women: Programming for Prevention, Protection and Care, as well as an online multimedia exhibit. Read: UN News Centre, United Press International, Zimbabwe Independent


Sur reported March 2 that according to experts, the popularity of IUDs declined dramatically in the U.S. during the 1980s after serious pelvic infections were reported as a result of an IUD known as the Dalkon Shield. The story noted that many of the 200 doctors and scientists attending the Fifth International Symposium on Intrauterine Devices and Systems for Women's Health, presented by the Population Council and UNFPA in New York in October 2006, said the pendulum was swinging back to IUD use – especially among women who already have children. Read: Sur


McClatchy Newspapers reported February 20 on the condition known as obstetric fistula, a tear in the tissue between the vagina and adjoining organs, caused by prolonged labor in small, undernourished women. The story highlighted the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, founded in 1974 by two Australian gynecologists, Catherine Hamlin and her late husband Reginald. The story noted that in 2003 UNFPA launched a worldwide "End Fistula" campaign, which is now working in 35 poor countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. In recent years, Sudan and Nigeria have opened centers for fistula repair. Last year the U.N. campaign appealed for $78.3 million in funding over five years to reach its target of eradicating the fistula problem by 2015. Read: McClatchy Newspapers


UN News Centre reported February 23 that the U.N. stepped up aid to hundreds of thousands of flood victims on three continents, launching a $9.2 million flash appeal for 350,000 Bolivians, rushing in health care and $7.6 million in emergency funding for 142,000 Mozambicans, and sending food for 6,000 families in the Philippines, where an earlier $48.7 million appeal has barely been funded. The story noted that already, flood victims have suffered increased acute respiratory infections, diarrhea and skin diseases, and dengue fever. WHO and UNFPA will provide health care and epidemiological tracking to prevent disease outbreaks. Read: UN News Centre

United Press International reported February 23 that the United Nations launched a $9.2 million campaign to aid Bolivia which was recently ravaged by floods, landslides and freezing weather. The story noted that UNICEF will help provide water and sanitation supplies, and WHO and UNFPA will oversee health care efforts. Read: United Press International


AFRICA: U.N. Agencies Commit to Achieving Health-Related MDGs

Angola Press Agency reported March 4 that five U.N. agencies Africa have committed to helping African countries accelerate progress towards achieving health-related Millennium Goals (MDGs). Representatives of the five organizations released a joint statement signed by WHO Regional Director for Africa, Luis Sambo, the Africa Regional Director of UNFPA, Fama Ba, the World Bank’s Director of Human Development for Africa, Yaw Ansu, and the UNICEF Regional Director for Central Africa, Esther Guluma. Read: Angola Press Agency

AFRICA: Conference on Gender, Nation Building and the Role of Parliament

Foroyaa Newspaper ran a March 1 interview with Halifa Sallah on the 2007 Women Parliamentarians International Conference on Gender, Nation Building and the Role of Parliaments. During the interview Halifa noted that according to the President of the Senate, invaluable support for the conference had been given by DFID, UNDP, Women Waging Peace, ADB, the Swedish Embassy, UNIFEM, UNFPA, the government of Rwanda and others.

East African Business Week reported February 26 that Rwanda spent up to $1.2 million during the just concluded Women Parliamentarians international conference held at Kigali Serena Hotel. The story noted that the key donor agencies that funded the conference were DFID, UNDP, African Development Bank, UNFPA, the Swedish Embassy, UNIFEM regional office in Kigali, Rwanda and Women Waging Peace. Read: East African Business Week

ASIA: Parliamentarians Meeting on Population and Development

Voice of Vietnam reported February 24 that at the Asian Parliamentarians' 23rd meeting on population and development, parliamentarians from more than 20 countries participated including representatives from UNFPA, IPPF and AFPPD. Delegates met to discuss issues of aging population, infectious diseases, mankind future, positive and negative effects of international migration, and parliamentarians' activities related to population and development.

AFGHANISTAN:  Worst Maternal Mortality in the World

MWC News reported February 19 on the bleak reality of maternal health in the country, describing how a woman, Sangima, watched her sister-in-law Mastbegeen die trying to give birth to her seventh child. The baby was born prematurely and there was excessive bleeding during labour. There were no doctors or trained midwives near her village in the northeastern Afghan province of Badakshan to help so her family had to watch her life ebb away; the child did not survive either. In the remote villages of the Wakhan corridor in Badakshan there is little or no access to healthcare, and it takes between four and six days on horse-back or by yak to reach the nearest medical facility, provided bad weather has not blocked the roads. With 6,500 maternal deaths per every 100,000 live births, Badakshan province has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, according to  the United Nations Population Fund. Read: MWCNews/En

ARGENTINA: One-Third of Women Abused

Línea Capital reported February 23 that one-third of women in the world have been struck, sexually abused or experienced some type of abuse, said the Scientific Committee of the Latin American Center for Health and Women. The story noted that according to UNFPA, many women in Latin American do not use contraception because of their husbands’ opposition, this results in unintended pregnancies. Read: Línea Capital

ARMENIA: Draft Population Policy Presented

ARMINFO News Agency reported February 28 that a draft population policy was presented by the Ministry for Labor and Social Issues with UNFPA and other agencies. The story noted that UNFPA specialists revealed that about one million Armenians had left the Republic from 1991 to 2004.

BANGLADESH: Conference on Diarrhea Disease Held

United News of Bangladesh reported March 6 that UNFPA Assistant Representative Nurul Ameen was among major development partners that gathered at the International Centre for Diarrhea Disease Research in Bangladesh. Read: The Nation

BELARUS: Joint Program Launched on Population and Development

Belarus News reported March 7 that UNFPA plans to raise around $1.5 million to implement a program of cooperation with the Belarusian government that focuses on reproductive health protection activities in the sphere of population and development and efforts to secure gender equality. The story noted that UNFPA will provide assistance to authorities in compiling databases on major demographic trends in Belarus and hold a domestic abuse awareness raising campaign. Read: Belarus News

BOLIVIA: UNFPA Donates Equipment for Schools

El Mundo reported March 8 that UNFPA donated audio visual equipment worth $100,000 for 70 schools and cultural centers. Read: El Mundo

CHINA: Hopeful Outlook for Ageing Population

South China Morning Post reported March 11 that despite the difficulties caused by a rapidly ageing population and inadequate pension provision, there is hope for the mainland's growing band of elderly citizens. The story noted that at the end of 2005, 144 million citizens were 60 or over, accounting for 11 percent of the population. UNFPA defines a population as "ageing" when people aged 60 years and over comprise more than 10 per cent of the population.

CHINA: Government to Improve Family Planning Services in Rural Areas

Xinhua General News Service reported March 7 that the Chinese government is to spend 4.9 billion yuan ($628 million) on improving family planning services in rural areas. The money will be allocated by central government annually through to 2010, said the official from the National Population and Family Planning Commission. With the theme of "health, harmony, innovation and development", the Fourth China Reproductive Health/Family Planning New Technologies and Products Expo will be held in Beijing on July 11, World Population Day. The expo will be hosted by National Population and Family Planning Commission of China and supported by UNFPA. Read: Xinhua General News Service

COTE D'IVOIRE: 300 Cutters Lay  Down Their Knife

Fraternite Matin  reported February 20 from a ceremony in the West of the country, where 300 women, practitioners of female genital cutting, pledged to pout down their knives for good, as a result of a sustained campaign supported by UNFPA.

ETHIOPIA: Biological Society of Ethiopia Hosts Population Conference

The Reporter reported March 3 that the Biological Society of Ethiopia’s 17th annual conference was themed: "Population Explosion and Global Warming: Local and Global Context.” The story noted that during UNFPA’s presentation, Jason O. Onsembe indicated that Ethiopia’s population of 79.3 million is expected to be 170.2 million by 2050. He added, "In Ethiopia, high population growth will impede all efforts aimed at reducing poverty, as the recent analysis of the trends in economic growth, poverty and population dynamics indicate." He suggested that it now remains the responsibility of policymakers to put in place appropriate policies and strategies to change the direction of population growth. Read: The Reporter

FIJI: Sexual and Reproductive Health Incorporated into School Curriculum

Fiji Times reported March 1 that Fiji is the first Pacific Islands Forum country to begin incorporating Family Life Education (FLE) or sexual and reproductive health into its national secondary school curriculum. The story noted that UNFPA Representative and Director Country Technical Services Team, Najib Assifi, applauded the Education Ministry "for serving as a role model for other Pacific Island Countries.” The story noted that FLE emphasizes family life and relationships. It may also cover population growth, personal health and nutrition, self-esteem and gender roles. “It is great that Fiji is moving ahead in trying to help young people by providing them with correct information about their health and development and in empowering them so that they might make informed choices," said Assifi. Read: Fiji Times

GEORGIA: Parliament Focuses on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health

The Georgian Times reported February 28 that Parliament held a national forum aimed at developing local and regional projects to educate youth on sexual and reproductive health. The story noted the project will be financed by the European Commission and UNFPA. Read: The Georgian Times

GHANA: United Nations Day against Female Genital Mutilation

Public Agenda reported February 19 that to commemorate the United Nations Day against Female Genital Mutilation, UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid warned of the trend of subjecting younger girls to the practice in order to avoid their complaints or refusal to participate. Obaid combined her warning with a renewed call for intensified global efforts to save the 3 million girls who still face the risk of FGM every year. Read: Public Agenda

INDIA: "Laadli" Media Awards for Gender Sensitivity

The Hindu reported March 7 that at the "Laadli" Media Awards for Gender Sensitivity, Population First said the media should play a greater and more sensitive role in emphasizing gender issues. Journalists were awarded for their contributions to gender issues. Judges included filmmaker Govind Nihalani; Sai Paranjpe, Chief Editor of Marathi newspaper; Kumar Ketkar; Actor Kirron Kher; Ena Singh of UNFPA; writer Shobha De and singer Sunita Rao. Read: The Hindu, India Express

INDIA: More Women and Children Found Anemic

Zee News reported February 22 that India has the largest number of anemic married women and children. "There is more than one reason for Indian women and children being anemic. Low social status of women, poor food quality, high cost of healthcare facilities and even some genetic problems are responsible for the problem," UNICEF India Child Health and Nutrition Chief Werner Schultink said. The survey, which was published jointly with the UNFPA, DFID and Avahan, an initiative of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found that 79.1 percent of children between the ages of three to six years were anemic in 2006 compared to 74.2 percent in 1999. Read: Zee News

INDIA: Campaign to Raise Awareness on the Decline of Female Sex Ratio

The Hindustan Times reported February 24 that UNFPA in association with Art of Living Foundation would launch a 'Yatra' to raise awareness on the sharp decline of female sex ratio in Punjab. “Beti Sneh Sanjivni Yatra would educate people against the menace of female feticide," said Richa Chopra of the Art of Living Foundation. Read: Hindustan Times

INDONESIA: Special Population Ministry Proposed

Suara Pembaruan’s March 9 story quoted chairman of the Population Coalition, Indra Abidin, as stressing the need to set up a special ministry for population to tackle widespread poverty, malnutrition among children and pregnant women in the country. UNFPA Assistant Representative Martha Santoso Ismail said it is important to maintain the commitment to family planning and ensuring access to quality reproductive health and family planning services.

INDONESIA: Gender-based Violence in Conflict Settings

Sinar Harapan  ran an interview on February 27 with Ms. Martha Santoso Ismail, UNFPA Assistant Representative, on the prevention of gender-based violence in conflict settings as part of efforts for the implementation of UNSC Resolution No.1325. “It takes time to resolve conflict but we should work to ensure that the impact of the conflict would not further worsen the plight of affected women,” Ms. Ismail said. She added that failures to ensure safe access (to basic needs and aid), to ensure protection for women in temporary shelters and gender-sensitive humanitarian assistance are also a form of (gender-based) violence.

IRAN: UNFPA Applauds Statistical Center of Iran for Helping Afghanistan

Mehr News Agency reported February 26 that Tehran-based UNFPA Representative Mohamed Abdel-Ahad applauded the Statsistical Center of Iran  for assisting in the joint project with Afghanistan on training Afghan statistics experts. SCI and UNFPA also signed the 2007 memorandum of understanding entitled, “Population and Development Strategies,” to continue the five-year joint venture. Read: Mehr News Agency, IRNA

KENYA: A Cumbersome Contraception

Women interviewed in a story by Kwamboka Oyaro on March 10, examining why the female condom is not very popular, complained that the female condom was "cumbersome" and "noisy". But the UNFPA representative, Dr. Kemal Mustafa, says the government is not doing enough to popularize the female condom and promote its use. 

LEBANON: Discussion on Sexual Education in the Scholar Curricula

Al-Akhbar reported March 7 that the Ministry of Education still has reservations on integrating sexual education in the scholar curricula. The story noted that the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Educational Center for Research and Development, in cooperation with UNFPA, are advocating towards gaining the support of decision makers to introduce the concepts of reproductive health and gender in schools.  Read: Al-Akhbar/Ar

LEBANON: Village Meetings for Women

Al Anwar reported February 27 that heads of municipalities from three villages in the South met with the village women  to assess the needs of women and their willingness to participate in the development of interventions to meet the identified needs. This intervention, supported by UNFPA,  falls within a project under UN Security Counsil  Resolution 1325 towards empowering women in post conflict areas to take part in the peace process and conflict prevention within their communities .  Read: Al AnwarAnnaharAssafir

LIBERIA: Training for Rape Survivors The News reported March 7 that in an effort to senitize the medical comunity on gender based violence in Liberia, the Ministry of Health, UNFPA and UNHCR conducted a two-day training for over 20 medical practitioners on how to deal with survivirs of rape and other violence.  The story was also reported in The Inquirer.

LIBERIA: Executive Boards Reiterate Commitment to Achieving the Country’s Development Goals

The Inquirer reported March 5 that the Executive Boards of the four United Nations' Agencies reiterated their commitment to assisting the Liberian government achieve its development goals. The story noted that the Executive Boards consisting of representatives from UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA and WFP arrived in Liberia to deliver U.N. funds and observe programs. Read: The Inquirer, UN News Centre

LIBERIA: President Johnson-Sirleaf Meets with U.N. Delegation

The Analyst reported February 28 that a 32-member delegation representing Executive Boards of four United Nations agencies met with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Johnson-Sirleaf said her government is determined to respond to the needs of its people, by providing education, basic health services, jobs and mobility as well as ensuring self-sufficiency in food production. The President disclosed that her government would be working toward a full-fledged Poverty Reduction Strategy Program in the next 18-months, consistent with the success of the Partnership Forum. Members of the 32-member U.N. delegation included UNFPA, UNDP, UNICEF and the World Food Program. Read: The Analyst

MADAGASCAR: Natural Disasters Affect Women More

L'Express  ran an interview February 22 with UNFPA Country representative Mr. Benoit Kalasa, addressing the special needs of women in a natural disaster. "For example, a natural disaster increases the risks for women and girls for violence and miscarriage", said Mr. Kalasa, explaining how UNFPA works with partners to provide care and supplies in emergency settings.

MADAGASCAR: Census Mapping

L'Express  reported March 10 that the National Institute of Statsistics is currently developing maps in preparation for the census. The maps are being supported by a $500,000 grant from UNFPA.

MALAWI: Officials Discuss Circumcision in Country’s HIV/AIDS Fight

Agence France-Presse reported February 28 that AIDS-ravaged Malawi needs to make its own decision whether to adopt male circumcision in a bid to reduce levels of HIV infection said health and government officials who met with local traditional healers. “Malawi needs to make its own decision on developing male circumcision services based on solid evidence and analysis," said Helen Jackson, UNFPA’s HIV/AIDS regional advisor for southern Africa. "Though as a high HIV prevalence country, Malawi cannot afford to ignore the evidence of a 50 percent or more protective impact," she said. Jackson said developing male circumcision services "is complex and should only be undertaken in the context of strengthened efforts for overall HIV prevention." Read: Agence France-Presse

MALAWI: Women Told Customary Marriages Are Not Secure

The Nation reported February 20 that during a women’s conference held at UNFPA’s country director’s residence, attendees were informed that under the countries laws, almost all marriages are customary and, therefore, not secure because a husband is free to marry more than one wife. The story noted UNFPA Country Director Esperance Fundira said the information women shared at the function was crucial for the benefit of couples and their children. The women were also encouraged to write wills as a way of securing property for their children when they die. Read: The Nation

MEXICO: Workshop for HIV-Infected Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights

CIMAC reported February 19 that HIV-infected women participated in a workshop to strengthen their knowledge of sexual and reproductive rights. The workshop was organized by the Collective Sun, with support of UNFPA in Mexico. Read: CIMAC

MONGOLIA: Pollution in the Capital

BBC News reported February 19 on pollution in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator, one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, with about 2.6 million people. The story noted that Ulan Bator is becoming increasingly urbanized – according to UNFPA, 60% of the population live in urban areas, approximately one third of them in the city. Read: BBC News

MONGOLIA: Project Launched to Increase Detection of Diseases Such as HIV 

Mongolia News reported February 22 that since March 2006, the GTZ Reproductive Health Project and UNFPA implemented a joint pilot project on integrating sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV prevention with antenatal care in selected areas. The assessment conducted at the beginning of the project showed that one of the main concerns was that pregnant women do not receive any HIV counseling and testing. Read: MongoliaNews/En

MOROCCO: UNFPA and Ministry of Health Combat Demand for Cannabis

All Headline News reported March 9 that UNFPA and the Moroccan Ministry of Health have teamed up to cut some of the demand for cannabis. They hosted a colloquium aimed at curbing drug use earlier this month with the participation of youth representatives from 27 Arab and African states. Read: All Headline News

MOROCCO: Group Combats Drug Use Among Youth

Magharebia reported March 4 that the Media Observatory for Youth, a Moroccan watchdog group, has been working to combat drug use among young people. The story noted that during a national colloquium the group screened an eight-minute documentary film entitled, “Youth and the Hell of Drugs.” The film, prepared in cooperation with UNFPA and the Moroccan Ministry of Health, depicts the plight of young people battling addiction and contains first-hand accounts of the dangers and destructive effects it has on young peoples' lives. Read: Magharebia 

MOZAMBIQUE: Flood  Assistance

TVM reported March 5 that UNFPA  has started to distribute 4,000 dignity kits for women in Morrumbala, one of the districts recently affected by floods in Zambézia province, central Mozambique. The kits are made of soap, pads, panties, t-shirt, toothpaste, tooth brush, condoms and a capulana (a large sheet of fabric often wrapped around the waist and worn as a skirt or dress throughout Mozambique).  Last month, the provinces of Manica, Sofala, Tete and Zambézia were severely hit by floods affecting more than 280,000 people.

NEPAL: The Importance of Girls’ Education

The Telegraph Nepal ran a March 7 opinion piece by Professor Hari Bansh Jha, executive director of the Centre for Economic and Technical Studies who noted Nafis Sadik, executive director of UNFPA, had mentioned that education to the girls and women is important to the protection against violence, diseases and unwanted pregnancy. Read: Telegraph Nepal

NEPAL: Ageing Population

The Rising Nepal ran a commentary by Ratna Prajapati on ageing population. Prajapati cited UNFPA’s “State of World Population 2006" that revealed the world's population reached 6.54 billion in 2006. Among them, 688 million are people aged 60 years or over, which accounts for 11 percent of the total population. In addition, the total elderly population of 248 million lives in the more developed regions, with 440 million in the less developed regions and 40 million in the least developed regions. The commentary concluded: “The government should formulate and implement appropriate plans, policies and programs for the elderly citizens and facilitate them by providing all necessary facilities and opportunities. In addition, the government should try to utilize their skills, knowledge and vast experience in the all-round development of the nation.” Read: Rising Nepal

NIGER: UNFPA Grants Aid for Obstetric and Neonatal Care

Angola Press Agency reported March 1 that UNFPA granted 561,539 Euros to Niger to boost obstetric and neonatal care. The funds would be used to supply caesarean operation kits and emergency obstetric drugs to health centers in the Zinder region, east of country, Agadez in north, and the nation’s capital Niamey. Read: Angola Press Agency

NIGER: Agreement Signed for Obstetric and Neonatal Care

Sahel Dimanche  reported February 23 that an agreement  was signed between the Ministry of Health and UNFPA for funding of a programme to reinforce emergency obstetric and neonatal care in Niger. The programme will be funded jointly by the Spanish Cooperation (500 000 euros) and UNFPA (61 539 euros) and aims to support the government to reinforce accessibility to reproductive health services by supplying delivery kits, caesarean kits and emergency obstetric care drugs. After the signature, the Minister of Health decorated Mrs Lays, UNFPA Representative, with the Medal for Health.

NIGERIA: U.N. Reform

This Day reported February 27 on U.N. reform and the competition for resources between U.N. agencies such as UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP, WHO and UNEP, among many others. The story mentioned a proposal to merge three existing organizations focused on women's issues—UNIFEM, the Office of the Special Advisor on Gender Issues, and the U.N. Division for the Advancement of Women—into one U.N. agency to be headed by an under-secretary-general.

NIGERIA: Abolishing Female Genital Mutilation

The Daily Champion ran a February 26 opinion piece on abolishing female genital mutilation. It mentioned the country’s observance of International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation that was organized by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with UNFPA in Nigeria. Read: The Daily Champion

NORTH KOREA: Ambassador Accuses United States of Fabricating Lies

Associated Press reported February 21 that in a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, North Korea's U.N. Ambassador Pak Gil Yon accused the United States of fabricating lies that it was diverting U.N. aid money to develop nuclear weapons and said it would accept an outside audit of U.N. operations unless the aim was to politicize aid to the country. Pak also accused the United States of "hostile maneuvers" against his country in seeking an audit of the alleged misuse of aid money from UNDP. Late last month, U.N. Controller Warren Sach said the three-month audit would cover UNDP, UNFPA, WFP and UNICEF.

PALESTINE: Marriages among Relatives and Genetic Disorders

Maan News reported February 21 that with the support of UNFPA, the Association of Thalassemia  Disease Friends organized an open meeting in Toulkarem, Palestine, to discuss genetic disorders in relation with marriages among relatives under the slogan "towards better health for youth".  Read: MaanNews/Ar, WAFA/En

PAKISTAN: Health Professionals Trained to Help Achieve Millennium Development Goals

The Pakistan Newswire reported March 1 that 43 health professionals attended a two-week course at Aga Khan University to be trained in skills necessary to achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals. The Department of Community Health Sciences organized the course which was funded by David & Lucile Packard Foundation and UNFPA and offered in collaboration with Ministries of Health and Population Welfare.

PARAGUAY: Paraguayan Woman's Day Celebrations

ABC and Ultima Hora reported February 24 that the celebration of the “Paraguayan Woman's Day” targeted various challenges for women in migration, household, unemployment, education and health. For this event, data from UNFPA's State of the World Report 2006, "Women and International Migration," had been taken into consideration as a source.

La Nación February 24 reported that during the celebrations, rural women requested increased attention towards health, mainly maternal health. The request was based on information from an UNFPA report.

PHILIPPINES: Bago City Aims for 1.9 Percent Growth Rate

Philippine Daily Inquirer reported March 6 that the Bago City government is targeting a 1.9-percent annual population growth rate by 2010, Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral said. The story noted Dr. Nafis Sadik, U.N. Special Envoy for HIV and AIDS for Asia and the Pacific, urged the Philippines to develop a strong and culturally responsive population policy that supports the right of all women and men to make free, responsible and informed choices. Cabral and Sadik came to Bago City to mark the 20th death anniversary of Rafael Salas, former UNFPA executive director.

Another March 6 story by The Philippine Daily Inquirer noted that former President Fidel Ramos was also in Bago City to celebrate Salas.

PHILIPPINES: The Role of Overseas Filipino Women Workers Highlighted

Davao Today reported March 8 that a majority of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) sent abroad are now women who play an increasingly vital role in ensuring their families’ survival. The story noted that women OFWs, because of their large numbers, also account for one-third of the country’s $10 billion remittances from overseas workers, according to findings of UNFPA’s 2007 State of World Population Report. Read: Davao Today 

RWANDA: UNFPA Representative in Rwanda Recognized

The New Times reported March 1 that a cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame endorsed the accreditation of four envoys as representatives of their respective countries and an international agency. The story noted one of four envoys endorsed was Thérèse Zerba who is now UNFPA representative to Rwanda. Read: The New Times

SEYCHELLES: UNFPA-Funded Organizations Review 2006 Programs and 2007 Proposals

Seychelles Nation reported March 7 that UNFPA-funded organizations met with the regional heads of UNFPA during a review process of 2006 plans and proposals for 2007 programs. UNFPA Country Director Dr. Benoit Kalasa and his deputy Kris Valaydon attended the meeting. Read: Seychelles Nation: March 5, March 7   

SWAZILAND: "Stay at Home on Census Night"

Times of Swaziland and The Swazi Observer wrote February 22 that the Prime Minister caused laughter when he warned the population to stay at home on census night between 11 and 12 May, saying that anyone who are somewhere they ought not to be on that night "will be counted". During the launch of the 2007 census, it was announced that UNFPA has donated over 3 million Euros towards the country's population census. The cesnsus is expected to boost government planning.

THAILAND: Telemedicine Option Sought for Healthcare

Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported February 22 that telemedicine, or the use of information technology to provide health services in remote areas, is taking off in India and China but still awaits government action in Thailand. With rising healthcare costs and ageing in Asia rising, telemedicine increasingly seen as a benefit. The story noted that UNFPA estimated Asia is ageing at a faster rate than the United States and Europe because of its huge population base and improved medical care region wide. Read: Deutsche Presse-Agentur

TURKEY: Success in Campaign on Violence against Women

Turkish Daily News reported February 28 on a major, multi-faceted campaign on violence against women, according to a UNFPA report on Turkey. The campaign started in an effort to raise public awareness of domestic violence against women, an issue that thrives universally in silence and shame. “If you want to change the mentality of a country, you need to involve many social actors,” said Meltem Agduk, UNFPA Gender and Advocacy program coordinator in Turkey. “Most research has showed that you need the government to enact and implement legislation, you need NGOs and other civil society and social actors and you need the support of the private sector,” she said. Read: Turkish Daily News 

TURKEY: Study Released on Honor Killing

Turkish Daily News reported February 24 that the Population Association, UNFPA and UNDP supported a study called “Dynamics of the Honor Killings in Turkey” in Istanbul, Adana, Şanlıurfa and Batman. According to the study, men 18-25 years old who have emigrated from rural areas to cities have very rigid views about divorce and virginity, while older men are more tolerant. The study also found that women also think that honor is linked to a “woman's sexuality” and that a single woman can marry without permission from her family without dishonor. Read: TurkishDailyNews/En, TodaysZaman/En

TURKMENISTAN: Children’s Drawing Contest Winners Announced

The Times of Central Asia reported March 7 on the results of the children's drawing contest organized within the framework of the joint project between the Ministry of Education and UNFPA in Turkmenistan. The story noted that the 12 best drawings have been selected for the annual calendar published by UNFPA. Read: Times of Central Asia

UNITED KINGDOM: Conference Held on Population Issues

Daily Trust ran a March 7 opinion piece that mentioned a seminar at the United Kingdom’s House of Commons entitled "Population: The Unfinished Agenda." The event featured presentations from Gareth Thomas, MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development; Professor Chris Rapley, Director of the British Antarctic Survey and Dr. Nafis Sadik, Special Adviser to the U.N. Secretary-General and former executive director of UNFPA. Read: Daily Trust 

UNITED STATES: Legislation to Fund UNFPA to Be Reintroduced

The New York Times ran a March 4 letter by Rep. Carolyn Maloney in response to Nicholas D. Kristof’s Feb. 25 column about obstetric fistula. She wrote the column “underscores the impact of the Bush administration’s annual decision about financing for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.” Maloney mentioned: “For five years, however, President Bush has refused to spend the total of $161 million that Congress has appropriated for UNFPA. Instead, he has listened to specious allegations from the radical opponents of contraceptive use, and millions of women worldwide suffer needlessly as a result.” Her letter concluded: “I plan to reintroduce legislation this year to direct money to the agency to combat fistula. Let’s hope Mr. Kristof’s wrenching report jars the president’s conscience.” Read: The New York Times

 YEMEN: Raising the Legal Age of Marriage to 18 Proposed 

IRIN reported March 7 that a Yemen's Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood proposal to raise the legal age of marriage to 18 could see the country's high maternal mortality rate drop drastically. The story noted that approximately 75 percent of maternal deaths are preventable, occurring because of a lack of access to – and availability of – high-quality reproductive health services, said UNFPA officials in Yemen. UNFPA says that 84 percent of all births in Yemen take place at home and only 20 percent of these births have trained attendants present. Read: IRIN, Gulf News

YEMEN: 2007-2011 Country Program Signed

News Yemen reported March 5 that UNFPA and Yemen signed the UNFPA's country program for the period (2007-2011). The program, signed by Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Abd-Karim al-Arhabi and UNFPA representative in Yemen, Hans Obtin, includes three main focal points dealing with pubic issues such as procreation healthcare, population and developmental issues and social kind issues. Read: News Yemen

YEMEN: Scaling Up Midwifery in the Community

Althawra News reported February 21 that evidence shows that a midwife or other healthcare provider with midwifery skills offers the most cost-effective, low technology but high quality solution to achieving safe motherhood, a central component of reproductive health.  To ensure that every pregnant woman and newborn has access to a skilled birth attendant, ICM, the International Confederation of Midwives; UNFPA, WHO and partners are calling on governments to invest in developing and scaling-up of  “Midwifery in the Community”. Read: Althawra News/Ar

ZIMBABWE: HIV/AIDS Program Focusing on Behavioral Change Launched

The Herald reported March 5 that Zimbabwe launched a five-year behavioral change strategy meant to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. The story noted that the strategy, formulated by the National AIDS Council and UNFPA, is expected to see a further decline of the country's HIV prevalence rate to single digits within three years.

ZIMBABWE: Social Dimensions Fund in Shambles

The Zimbabwe Independent revealed March 2 that the Social Dimensions Fund meant to provide safety nets for vulnerable members of society is in shambles as the Ministry of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare has failed to account for money injected into the fund since 1991. The story noted that the World Bank and UNFPA, the initial principal donors, terminated their support in 2000 citing lack of accountability and government's failure to repay loans. Read: The Zimbabwe Independent


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