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Jyoti, I want to marry you, and this time I am sure of it.” I looked at him, not believing a word. Marry me? An HIV-positive woman? When he..
Jyoti, I want to marry you, and this time I am sure of it.” I looked at him, not believing a word. Marry me? An HIV-positive woman? When he..
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The Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YCSRR), in cooperation with Women Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR), the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) and members of the More Than Our Status Campaign, are pleased to welcome submissions from young and passionate activists to raise awareness about the experiences of young women and girls living with HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights in their communities.
We invite young people (12-29 years old) to submit original writing and artwork to our Watchdog publication on the theme of “Stories by and experiences of young women and adolescent girls* living with HIV”.
*Please note: all youth who identify as women, transgender, transfeminine, gender-variant, and genderqueer are invited to submit.
This Watchdog will focus on the experiences and lives of young women and adolescents from diverse parts of the world who face discrimination, but also experiences of every kind, in relation to their everyday lives living with HIV. The Watchdog will be launched on World AIDS Day on 1st of December 2015.
As well as being considered for inclusion in the upcoming YCSRR Watchdog, selected submissions may be featured on the YCSRR website and/or used during the YCSRR social media campaign during World AIDS Day. Please send your submissions to email@example.com with the subject line “HIV Watchdog Submission” no later than November 1st, 2015.
Please see the full call for submissions ( The-Watchdog-Call-for-Submissions.pdf) for further details.ask ausiello domain names and hosting Cinerarium
SEPTEMBER 28TH STATEMENT
Global Day of Action for Access to Safe & Legal Abortion
Members of the More Than Our Status Campaign
Young women and girls living with HIV often face multiple barriers and restrictions when it comes to their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), which diminishes their ability to live a life with dignity and respect. This September 28, the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe & Legal Abortion, we as members of the More Than Our Status Campaign call for the mobilization of communities and governments in ensuring access to safe and legal abortion as an integral part of sexual and reproductive health services and realizing the SRHR of all women, including young women and girls living with HIV.
While abortion continues to be a controversial topic in different countries, young women and girls around the world continue to grapple with lasting effects of unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortion services. For young women and girls living with HIV, who are often multiply marginalized as a result of their age, gender, economic situation, and HIV status, accessing safe abortion services becomes even more difficult for them. Not only do they confront the abortion stigma experienced by all individuals who need and seek abortions, they also face additional stigma because of myths and misinformation surrounding HIV, which act as barriers to their accessing SRHR services. Their access to contraceptive methods is limited as they are presumed to be sexually inactive, or are told that they should be. There are also instances where, because of myths surrounding HIV, coupled with abortion-related stigma, service providers refused to provide SRHR services to young girls and women living with HIV, including safe abortion services. In turn, these myths and stigma surrounding both abortion and HIV feed and perpetuate further stigma and discrimination, forcing individuals seeking abortion to resort to unsafe measures.
The World Health Organization defines unsafe abortion as a procedure for terminating a pregnancy that is performed by an individual lacking the necessary skills, or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards, or both. In countries where abortion remains unsafe and illegal, it is a leading cause of maternal mortality. Worldwide, the consequences of an unsafe abortion can be fatal:
- Each year, roughly 6.9 million women are hospitalized for treatment of abortion-related complications such as hemorrhage and sepsis. These complications can have short- or long-term consequences, including anemia, prolonged weakness, chronic inflammation of the reproductive tract and secondary infertility.
- About 47,000 women die worldwide each year because of unsafe abortion, accounting for an estimated 13% of all maternal deaths worldwide.
Social justice and human rights require that women and girls who are living with and affected by HIV be able to make informed decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health. Therefore laws and policies that criminalize, penalize or prevent access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, including safe abortion, form a major obstacle to these women and girls being able to enjoy their full sexual and reproductive rights. A woman living with HIV, like any other woman or girl, may need access to safe abortion for various reasons – such as in cases of contraceptive failure, socioeconomic reasons, cases of rape or incest, or cases where the pregnancy poses a threat to her health or her life, among many other situations. As such, facilitating access to safe and legal abortion information and services is critical to ensuring that women and girls living with HIV are provided with the best quality sexual and reproductive health care.
It means very little to talk about the human rights of young women living with HIV, without recognizing their rights to exercise meaningful decision-making power and control over their own bodies. Young women and girls living with HIV are unable to enjoy their full sexual and reproductive rights unless they can access safe and legal abortion. Cinerarium . Young women and girls living with HIV are more than their status and their access to safe abortion services should not be defined by their status.
As more developing countries reform their abortion laws, new evidence is accumulating that access to safe and legal abortion saves women's lives, and improves health conditions among women and girls. We therefore demand that governments ensure access to safe, legal and affordable abortion services for all who may need them, including young women living with HIV.
Our bodies, our sexual and reproductive rights! World Health Organization (2015), Preventing Unsafe Abortion.  Our Bodies Ourselves (2014), The Impact of Illegal Abortion.  Guttmacher Institute (2015), Each Year, 6.9 Million Women in Developing Countries are Treated for Complications from Unsafe Abortion.  Guttmacher Institute (2009), Facts and Consequences: Legality, Incidence and Safety of Abortion Worldwide.  Guttmacher Institute (2012) Facts on Induced Abortion Worldwide.  Guttmacher Institute (2012), Making Abortion Services Accessible in the Wake of Legal Reforms.
When I wrote the idea sounded simple to make, very different from what it came later. Since the promotion, recruitment, development, coordination and mobilization had barriers, but these do not compare with the result, learning and the ability to generate something bigger. Every year the funding for activities and unrelated matters to the clinic care or outside the clinic is lower, for that reason, the spaces to handle psychological, emotional, social affairs and education about our rights, including sexual and reproductive medication, self-management concept and stigma are endangered, and this is worse for those who do not reside in the metropolitan area. These issues are simply not a priority for those who mostly give money and / or state, therefore, most agencies that provide services don’t have the opportunity to devote time and energy to this. However, I have had the experience of listening to health care providers talking about the irresponsibility of those who live with HIV on our dates, ARV therapy, among others. So I do not know how objective is the talk of responsibility when we/they rarely promote the few spaces available, while, there’s a feeling of an apparent "control" over what activities you have access, depending on the agency in which you receive services. We have policies and studies that talk about the benefits of "diagnose and treat" without not even make space for acceptance, support network, when they feel ready to start therapy and mostly, not focused on the needs of the individual. In a very personal way, it seems that we promote clinical studies than social studies, and that these policies and studies are not necessarily based on the needs of people.
CHALLENGES The first challenge, I would say that the main and largest, was the promotion in clinics and health centers. Not being a health care provider, or represent an NGO / CBO nor the Department of Health, did not allow me to recruit a greater number of young women. In a nutshell, I remember being told at one of the clinics that his "patients almost do not participate in anything," another that "it would be difficult to promote it because they must ask for approval", but insisted that didn’t wanted to be a barrier for me. To top it off, I was asked to speak with someone in the Department of Health for "a memo" and indirectly asked for my CV. On the other hand, others health centers let me post some promotion in their facilities, shared them between their networks and even called their participants to tell them about the activity. For that, I am more than grateful, because not everyone go, or every day or every month at the clinic, therefore, to have the promo visible is not always enough. Also the trust of my capabilities, without being a health "provider" or "professional". So, that how "making a difference" and to "go the extra mile" really looks like. Thinking about realistically limitations, thinking of the wellbeing and creating awareness that "treatment" is not limited to have the medication available, but to have a focused, whole service and based on rights, dignity and free of stigma.
INITIATIVE The International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW), has more than 20 years and is the only global network by and for women living with HIV. It exists to guide efforts towards obtaining and improving the quality of life of women living with HIV. This, by mobilizing, organizing, advocacy, mentoring and increasing awareness on issues that directly affect our lives, the lives of women living with HIV. The Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) which has over 30 years of experience in the mobilization and campaign themes of Health and Sexual and Reproductive Rights, is based on the Global South network driven by its members that builds and strengthens the movement for Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and justice. They work to recognize the SRHR of all people, with special attention to the most marginalized. Together, ICW and WGNRR, decided to form a global campaign under the slogan "More Than Our Status", with the hashtags #DoYouSeeHIV. The purpose, raise awareness of how to reduce HIV stigma can positively change the lives of women living with HIV and improve their access to sexual and reproductive health services quality. This global campaign was the result of the strategy meeting of Young Women in Abuja (Nigeria) in the month of April, where 22 young activists in HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights met from Nigeria, India, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Russia, Jamaica, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Vietnam, and establishing strategies on how to strengthen a coordinated response to address stigma for women living with HIV access to sexual and reproductive health. Puerto Rico had the opportunity to make an initiative, which was held the workshop "BodyMapping". Not knowing if we required any permission, not that we actually care, we take a magic corner in the Luis Muñoz Rivera Park of San Juan, on Saturday August 15, 2015, from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. Initially, about 18 girls responded the call, of which 14 said they would attend, but just 10 confirmed and 8 arrived.
RESULTS The workshop consisted of an informal, open and honest conversation about sexuality, reproductive and our experiences and concepts about it. Then we would be painting our uteruses as we feel it. We started very simply, presenting and sharing what was the motivation to get there. From the feeling of loneliness and need for learning and growth, to be able to take their daughters and have transportation, were some of the most significant motivations. Just before passing to the conversation, we share a word that defines each one of us and in unison, saying "I am because you are" we define ourselves collectively as "extroverted, committed, happy, hardworking, strong, friendly, outgoing, sincere, sexy, challenging and grateful." As we talked about womanhood and how each of us expresses it and feels it, and how it intercedes in our health and vice versa. The meaning of sexuality that we have freely built and imposed by society, the integration of "soul and spirit" and how we relate to what is and those around us. The perception of gender roles, motherhood, menstruation and pleasure. How we feel when we are subversive and messages and treat that we receive. The emotional and psychological burden of religion on how guilty or not, we may feel about how we act and what we choose to do with our bodies. About the permission that we give to ourselves to assume the autonomy, control and the power, from something as simple as getting a tattoo, piercing or cutting hair, to the most complex, on the rights and sexual and reproductive health, as to be coerced into an abortion for being HIV positive. We discussed the experiences of disclosure of diagnosis and types of stigma, including the route of infection. Space for diversity of thought was given, and the opening was such, that diversity was merely a nutritional component. Cinerarium In short, it was a day of learning, growth and horizontal exchange, respect and appreciation. For me it was a tremendous learning, especially for my personal growth and look at all those things that I need to improve upon to generate this kind of discussion. It was an experience in which I could refresh my local work beyond activism, as a young woman living with HIV. Back to basics, talk about what happens to us and how it happens and how is repeated with other girls.
PAINTINGS BPB. 17 Barceloneta: Her paintings depicting nature and human nature, which often she cannot understand, that flourishes and gives life. She says these experiences need to be heard to greater learning.
FMC. 29 Toa Baja: Describe her uterus full of life and smiling. Red because it is full of love, accompanied by the African symbol that she simply liked, which actually represents "harmony."
JGF. 27 San Juan: Painted her uterus as it "should be", because she’s very diligent in what she does. Says about the activity that needs to be repeated with other women, and that again she can bring their daughters. Togo Brings attention to the need to finance these initiatives and that their ideas are more than heard.
KBC. 39 Barceloneta: Despite passing the age required to participate, she makes tremendous contribution through her experience. Since a very young age he was diagnosed and her uterus was removed. Sees her uterus, "Fallopian tubes" she clarifies, as witches and angelic wings capable of giving love and passion. Use the black and red representing the fire and secrets beneath them.
RGA. 27 Guaynabo: In her piece she represents 4 ways; noble, peace, humility and honesty, which are her engine to deal with her daughter and says that without it, would not achieve her objectives. Share that in this activity she acquires personal development, new friend, and no longer feels alone and some tools to communicate.
BMA. 23 San Juan: She paint a naked women, color earth, color of life. In her womb, a spiral that makes life and her hair the leaf. Added flowers for diversity and says she feels refreshed with experience.
YHM. 19 Barceloneta: This young women represent her uterus as the strong trunk of a tree, with flowers at her sides and from her ovaries the roots. She learned that "sexuality of women should care, respect and give that love it so richly deserves, that we are blessed and privileged and we shouldn’t mind the stigma that others put us, we have to be confident on what we are and do what one really makes us happy and not what others THINK ".
SMG. 23 Bayamon: According to her, her uterus stands out and for it sexual diversity and the sun represents her light. Describes the activity as an innovative and different, because he never had the opportunity to discuss these issues. Speaks of strengthening support networks among us to facilitate participation in these activities and more education on sexual health of women.
THANKS: This is the first time someone trust, not only in my idea and criteria, but in my ability and honesty as to support and fund an initiative, of which the only prove that they had and the veracity of the activity, it was my word. For this, I thank to ICW and WGNRR for the trust and support. I appreciate to those service providers and persons who supported the promotion, and took the time to call their participants to give them the information. Also to those who supported with transportation, food and care of children. Especially to the girls, to trust the process and honor their word, since the day of the event, all they said they would, they arrived. By openness, shared and given the opportunity to spend a spectacular day.
We continue spinning thoughts and constructing networks...
We are a global collective of young women activists from the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and HIV communities. Together we support the efforts of a Nigerian coalition (SHEWE) of activists that work to build a strong, inclusive SRHR movement that fully addresses the needs of women living with HIV. Supported by the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) and the Women’s Global Network on Reproductive Rights (WGNRR), funded through STOP AIDS NOW!. From now until World AIDS Day, December 1, 2015, the project will support the work that we as networks of women activists are doing in Nigeria and around the world. Our collective builds off the work that we do in our home countries, which we then bring to and share at the global level.
Youth Coalition + SHEWE Members
International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR)
ICW West Africa
ICW Chapter for Young Women, Adolescents and Girls (CYWAG)
Association of Young Women Living with HIV Ibadan
Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP)
Civil society for family planning (CiSFP)
Damsel of Virtue
Hope Initiative Organization
Kids & Teens Resource Centre
Positive Youth Network from Latin America & the Hispanic Caribbean
Royal skills for empowerment of youth and women
Traffina Foundation for Community Health
Women’s Rights and Health Project (WRAHP)
Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights
On April 28 and 29,th we met in Abuja, Nigeria as part of an International Young Women’s Strategy Meeting, coming together from Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, India, Vietnam, Mexico, Russia, Canada, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico, in the aim of meaningfully improving the provision of SRHR services for all, including women living with HIV. Together as a team we decided to focus on addressing the stigma faced by women living with HIV when accessing SRHR healthcare services. This is a big deal that impacts women we know in all of our countries and regions. Some of us even experienced it ourselves and shared stories about how challenging it is to access the SRHR services we need, especially if we are young, unmarried women living with HIV.
Follow us on Twitter using #DoYouSeeHIV
In September 2014, 22 local SRHR and HIV organizations came together to form a coalition comprised of two national advocacy networks, based in Abuja and Lagos, focused specifically on the SRHR of women living with HIV. Collectively affirming the need within Nigeria to raise awareness of the rights violations experienced by women living with HIV, together they developed a common advocacy agenda, identifying and prioritizing the following advocacy issues:
· Addressing stigma related to HIV/SRHR
·Ensuring access to quality contraceptive methods, particularly for younger unmarried women living with HIV, and
· Addressing SRHR Information gaps among women living with HIV
· From now until World AIDS Day 2015, coalition members will be undertaking advocacy and community engagement activities in relation to these three issues, as part of collective efforts to ensure safe and accessible SRHR services for women living with HIV.
Over the years, SRHR and HIV organizations and activists have called for an integrated approach to SRHR and HIV programming and services, in order to: reach a wider number of individuals and increase access to both HIV and SRH services; optimize existing healthcare infrastructures in resource-scarce settings; help reduce the stigma surrounding HIV; increase the availability and accessibility of SRH services for women living with HIV; and raise HIV awareness among women who may be unaware of their risk. Where SRHR and HIV services are not meaningfully integrated with a rights-based approach, moreover, certain groups such as young people, persons of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), and women living with HIV, among others, run a high risk of experiencing stigma, discrimination, and/or refusal of care when trying to access essential health services.
In particular, women living with HIV, especially young women and adolescent girls, experience significant obstacles when exercising their SRHR, and frequently report worldwide abuses and violations of their sexual and reproductive rights, within their families, healthcare settings and communities.
SRHR plus HIV integration and stigma reduction will increase the confidence in young women to make the right choices.”– Janet
She’s tired, she’s afraid & sometimes, she realizes she has no control over
her own body.” — L’Orangelis
No one should face violence when exercising their right to health.” — Dunia
…Eliminate stigma and revitalize hope for women living with HIV.” — Gloria
Reported violations include:
Physical violence against pregnant women, refusal to provide proper SRH information and services, stigma, Discrimination and detrimental and judgmental treatment, lack of confidentiality, lack of informed consent based on their HIV status, forced or coerced sterilization/abortion.
As a result of these violations, women living with HIV receive substandard sexual and reproductive healthcare or feel forced to shy away from using HIV, SRHR and maternal and child health services altogether.
If we are to meaningfully realize the SRHR of all women, including women living with HIV, as well as effectively address HIV/AIDS, we must ensure the bi-directional coordination and integration of all aspects of HIV and SRHR services, and address the stigma experienced by women living with HIV when exercising their SRHR.
Achieve changes in policy and practice to meaningfully improve the provision of SRHR services for all, including women living with HIV, both within Nigeria and around the world.
To build and strengthen partnerships between both SRHR and HIV movements in order to support and bring attention to the SRHR of women living with HIV, and the stigma they experience in healthcare settings.
Enhance SRHR advocates´ understanding of the barriers to appropriate services for women living with HIV, particularly if they are young and/or unmarried
Develop a shared understanding and enhance global recognition of SRHR violations faced by women living with HIV (both in Nigeria and worldwide)
Share real life testimonies from women around the world
Empower women living with HIV in the process of advocating for their SRHR, demanding that the SRHR needs of women living with HIV be met throughout their lives and not just in the context of vertical transmission.
- WGNRR and ICW Joint Statement on CSW59 (2015)
- ICW/WGNRR World AIDS Day Statement on the SRHR of Young Women Living with HIV (2014)
- Quality of Family Planning Services and Integration in the Prevention of Vertical Transmission Context, ICW 2014
- Building a Safe Home on Firm Ground, ICW 2014
- Forced Sterilization Preys on Women Living with HIV/AIDS, Center for Reproductive Rights (2012)
- Ourselves, Their bodies? STOP AIDS NOW! (2012)
- Protecting the Rights of key HIV-affected Women and Girls in Health care settings, UNDP et al (2013).
- An Advocacy Guide for Feminists, AWID
- Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: Integration as a Holistic and Rights-Based Response to HIV/AIDS, (Barroso; Sippel, 2011)