Every Day is Labour Day for Women !!

Today, 1st May is celebrated internationally as Labour Day. It is an annual holiday in many countries to celebrate the achievements of workers.

http://time.com/3836834/may-day-labor-history/

Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest.

But today let us also take a moment to reflect on the role of women’s labour –both for production and reproduction.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150905-pictures-labor-day-women-working-people-culture/

Women have always contributed to the reproduction role in our civilization through the contribution of their bodies being used (and taken over really) for the purpose of growing and nurturing the pregnancy and then after delivery for breast feeding as well as child care and rearing.

So what is different from other animals you may ask ?

Well nothing really, except that humans are clearly higher on the evolutionary scale and we like to believe that we are different/ superior/ more intelligent/ civilized and so on.

So then why are women still saddled with an unequal burden of child rearing while men have the option of exploring different frontiers and can also continue to have a family and children ‘on the side’ so to speak, without any interference with the trajectory of their careers and lives ?

Half the pregnancies worldwide continue to be unplanned and half of these are also unwanted. Women die both times—to continue the pregnancy to term or to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

maternal mortality

Women also contribute to labour and always have done so.

digging

During the two World Wars, it was women workers who kept the factories running, cities functioning, secret codes unravelling.

Across Asia, women farmers make up half the agricultural workforce.

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The mega cities in our part of the world are being built by women manual labourers working on building sites.

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Women make up more than half the migrant labour workforce, sending precious foreign exchange back to the home countries.

factory eye

White collar workers, doctors, firefighters, office workers, teachers, everywhere.

For this contribution to labour what do they get ?

They get paid less

https://thatwhichiam.wordpress.com/2017/01/14/ginger-rogers-goldilocks-and-gender-gaps/

They get less leisure time http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/06/10/another-gender-gap-men-spend-more-time-in-leisure-activities/

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and also have to bear the added burden of managing home and children.

A woman worker concentrating on her work with her baby on her side in the southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu. The infant mortality rate for working women is higher particularly among those in the primary sector, a large proportion of whom are labourers.

A woman worker concentrating on her work with her baby on her side in the southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu. The infant mortality rate for working women is higher particularly among those in the primary sector, a large proportion of whom are labourers.

Women have been increasingly sharing the burden of labour outside the home for decades now.

http://etcanada.com/news/211944/woman-parodies-bbc-interview-gone-wrong-after-kids-crash-live-chat/

It is time for men to move in and start sharing in the domestic unpaid and thankless labour also !

he can do it

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Don’t Safe Abortions contribute to World Health?

The World Health Day marks the creation of the World Health Organization (W.H.O). The W.H.O was established in 1948 to provide direction to global health policy to ensure quality healthcare for all. http://www.who.int/en/

The theme for World Health Day this year is Depression. http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2017/en/

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Studies have shown that roughly 12 % of all women suffer from mental health problems, and that number shoots up to about one third for women who’ve experienced unwanted pregnancies. Since rates of mental problems were the same for women who had abortions and women who went through with their pregnancy, the researchers concluded that it isn’t abortion that’s the problem, but the unwanted pregnancy. http://jezebel.com/5866568/an-abortion-wont-make-you-crazy-but-an-unwanted-pregnancy-might

That means one in every three women with an unwanted pregnancy will suffer from depression!

Women and girls end up with unwanted pregnancies for so many reasons. Among them are a lack of knowledge about their bodies, lack of access to effective contraception, failure of contraception, rape, relationship issues, health reason and economic reasons.

These women need counselling, support and access to a safe abortion is that is their choice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwv81v96ick

W.H.O defines, unsafe abortion as a procedure for terminating a pregnancy performed by people who lack the requisite skills, or performed in an environment that is not in conformity with minimal medical standards or both. This definition is a product of the core concepts that were first outlined in a WHO Technical Consultation held in 1992.

W.H.O published the updated Safe abortion: Technical and Policy Guidance for Health Systems in 2012 and followed up in 2014 with the Clinical Practice Handbook for Safe Abortion Care. See more at: http://asap-asia.org/blog/who-clinical-practice-handbook-for-safe-abortion-care/#sthash.ljGCbQJ7.dpuf

Despite the public health, mental health, social justice and women’s human rights issues related to safe abortion access, it continues to be stigmatized and is limited by both state and religious actors. Those who suffer the most are always the most vulnerable groups. The young, the poor, the rural, the marginalized.

Unsafe abortion kills an estimated 47,000 women every year, and injures millions more.

This World Health Day 2017 we urge governments and policymakers and healthcare providers to recognize unwanted pregnancy as a risk factor for depression and work to safeguard women’s mental health by ensuring that they always have a choice for a safe abortion when faced with such an unwanted pregnancy.

 

 

 

 

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Meet the ASAP Changemakers IV

Commemorating #IWD2017 we are celebrating work of our young women champions in promoting women’s access to safe abortion in their region. This blog series is an attempt to acclaim their power as #ASAPChangemakers !! – See more at: http://asap-asia.org/blog/#sthash.xiPmkHnY.dpuf 

priskila-quoteYouth Champion Priskila: I work with the Youth Advocacy Network Sri Lanka as a trainer and coordinator to create change agents in society. We work among young people in Sri Lanka by training and mentoring them to be peer educators and advocates in their communities. We also provide information on contraception and sexual and reproductive health.

Since childhood I have been baffled with the whole concept of acting like a girl, I found it puzzling that the same rules of conduct never applied to boys around me. As I grew I saw the guys became more independent while the girls were being controlled in several ways. I was appalled by the gender discrimination and stereotypes; it made me reflect on the gender biases and motivated me to work towards dismantling them.

I started my journey as a trainer on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights when I was 20. This is when I realized that the issues related to gender are far more serious than what I have been thinking. I learned and experienced many things. I realized that from the time a woman is born until the day she dies her life decisions are mostly made by those around her.

I believe that women having control over their body and making informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health is the key to women empowerment. I believe that young people should be the change agents in their society and should speak out. It is important that we raise awareness among them so that they could lead the change.

thao-quoteYouth Champion Nguyen Thao: I work as a youth program coordinator and research associate at Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population. I have participated in many training courses on SRHR, and have the knowledge, skills and experiences to share with other young people. These trainings helped me understand more about myself, believe in my ability, and know more about my rights

I trust that true change can happen only when women have control over their bodies, they are respected for the choices they make and are enjoy equal rights and access in all spheres. SRHR and is quintessential to women achieving over all well-being and young people can be the changemakers if they are empowered with right knowledge and resources.

riti-quoteYouth Champion Riti: It all started with the dream of becoming a doctor, the desire to bring about a change, to explore new horizons, to do something for the greater good.

A year after getting into medical school I realized that the knowledge given there just wasn’t enough. As a part of extracurricular activities, I attended ASAP Youth Advocacy Institute.

At the end of the workshop, my friend and I looked at each other, almost disturbed by the fact that women in most of the countries are being deprived of making decisions about their own body, and are poorly informed about their Reproductive Rights.

Since then, along with a few colleagues, I have been advocating for Women’s Rights and have been training young minds to do the same.

It’s time we see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals. This is possible only when men and women feel free to be sensitive as well as strong, freely live their life with a sense of self-worth, respect and dignity. The process of change is slow. It might not happen today, tomorrow, or in a few months from now, but it is happening.

And if I can accomplish my dream of becoming a doctor, I don’t think there is anything in the world, which is impossible for anyone. United as one, we can change the world; we can make it a better place for everyone.

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Youth Champion Ignatia Alfa Gloria: I believe that the rights we enjoy today should never be taken for granted since their lies a history of struggles behind them. After I moved to Jogjakarta on 2010, I was deeply concerned the stigma young people face with regard to their sexual health and started to work on the issue of SRHR.

I started joining campaigns and volunteering in various events, In 2014 I was invited by ASAP to join the youth advocacy institute, this was a life changing experience for me. In 2015 through ASAP small grants I organised a workshop on Gender, Sexuality and Creative writing Workshop; along with other youth champions we recently conducted the first local youth advocacy institute in Indonesia. Through these efforts I strive to break the taboo around SRHR and women’s access to safe abortion.

As a woman, living in patriarchal society was never easy, especially when you start to speak out. Every person should have the freedom to speak and express them self, but when a women stand for their rights, society will see it as “too much”. You will labelled as a rebel women, a less polite women, a bad women… (the list goes on). But I believe, when women keep fighting for their rights –regardless on what society thinks- it will give power and strength to other women to stands for what they believe. So, when you imagine a world safe for women, a world that respects women’s choices and a world that upholds equality, you must strive to be part of that change!

 

 

 

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Meet the ASAP Change makers III

Commemorating #IWD2017 we are celebrating work of our young women champions in promoting women’s access to safe abortion in their region. This blog series is an attempt to acclaim their power as #ASAPChangemakers !!  – See more at: http://asap-asia.org/blog/#sthash.NqtPhJ8h.dpuf

wangchuk-quote

Youth Champion Wangchuk Dema: I have been an active volunteer and social worker all my life. I am a feminist, youth and young women’s social advocate who works closely with young people at grass-root level especially for girls/young women empowerment and leadership. In line with this, I wholeheartedly work in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and fiercely advocate for safe abortion in Bhutan. I am currently an international coordinator for Y-PEER International (Asia Pacific region) and have served as a national coordinator for Y-PEER Bhutan. I have been a resource person in 6 National Training of Trainers for Y-PEER on SRHR and Peer Education (PE), and have also conducted various youth advocacy programs both online and offline. I have taken the initiative of going to schools and colleges to sensitize young boys and girls about their health and rights in terms of sexual and reproductive as well as significance of having education above all right now and not shying away from leadership qualities.

I intensely believe that every individual has the right to have control over their own body and that being said; women (specifically their bodies) in the society are more likely to be governed by the government or the men which is really distressing. With the help of some young people, I have been able to advocate about safe abortion to some health personnel after sensitizing to the young lot first. It was a great privilege for me to touch upon (un)safe abortion in the South Asia Young Women Leaders’ Dialogue (#FemParl) earlier this year.

By and large, women are incapable of ruling their own bodies; it’s the different aspects such as religion and politics, which prevents women from exercising their reproductive and sexual rights. Religion is often used as a system against women to keep the structure of patriarchy alive. I strongly believe that women should have the freedom to decide for their own bodies and life.

tanzila-quote

Youth Champion Tanzila Khan: Growing up with a disability in Pakistan, I have experienced a lifestyle that is all about discrimination, alienation, stigma and exclusion. And this is the case for more than 10% of the world population. But as time has moved on and I have moved from being in a state of isolation to a state of owning world problems as my own and working to solve them I believe that we all should be part of the solution, if not then we all are part of the problem regardless.

It all begins with realizing where women are standing today and as nations are progressing, unfortunately women and their problems are not a priority for many nations. One issue that really moved me was unsafe abortions taking place around the world. I took the challenge of diving deeper into this violation of human rights and came across many insights that could be a building block for a campaign. The fact that abortion was completely illegal was in fact a myth because Islam does allow abortion if it endangers the mother’s life. This unfortunately is also a very common case many times expectant mothers are underage or undernourished and often die in delivering the child.

Being a small part of a giant wheel, me and my team set out to start work in the area of safe abortion but bringing in the most marginalized segment of the society; women with disabilities. We aimed that these women will not just benefit from the training tools and awareness we aim to provide them but also become a guiding source for women in their communities.

It all started from attending ASAP’s institute. From there we started with arranging a three-day workshop for women with disabilities. Through this workshop, we engaged 8 women with different types of disabilities and trained them about SRHR, Safe abortion, Law in Pakistan and Islam’s view. These women further went and held advocacy sessions in their local communities and reported back to us.

With so much enthusiasm and zeal, we have finally developed a national network, which is further divided into Sindh and Punjab Chapter. I am personally passionate about leading the Punjab Chapter. Though it’s a battle for women by women, we hope to engage the world into believing that every woman’s life matters and every woman has the right to decide about her body and when that happens. I am happy that I was part of the solution and not the problem.

Watch this space for more!

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Meet the ASAP Change Makers II

Commemorating #IWD2017 we are celebrating work of our young women champions in promoting women’s access to safe abortion in their region. This blog series is an attempt to acclaim their power as #ASAPChangemakers !! 

prabanii-quote

Youth Champion Prabani Perera: I am a feminist who respects choices and believes in reproductive justice. I completed my Bachelors in Social Work at National Institute of Social Development (School of Social Work in Sri Lanka). I am a Youth Champion of Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) and work as Director of Advocacy and Networking at Youth Advocacy Network Sri Lanka (YANSL). I am also a counselor of Ask Us hotline which is the first ever hotline in Sri Lanka which provides information on post abortion care, contraceptives and sexuality. I have been part of many online campaigns and trainings conducted by ASAP and YANSL on women’s reproductive health and rights. I was also part of a research on mapping abortion friendly organizations and institutes within Colombo with another youth champion from Sri Lanka.

Through YANSL and ASK Us we have done various online campaigns targeting international days like photo campaigns, quizzes etc focusing the importance of women’s reproductive health and rights. These campaigns were eye openers for my friends, colleagues and family members, it is a pleasure to see that some sort of discussion is generated within the society through our campaigns and the feedbacks and the comments that I got was indeed positive and encouraging

I was lucky and privileged enough to be part of ASAP where I got experience and exposure from many other young advocates and feminists, about their work in different contexts. I gained the advocacy skills needed to advocate for safe abortion rights within the country and with relevant stakeholders. It also gave me a chance to talk on different platforms on the importance of respecting women’s reproductive rights. As a hotline counselor I experienced the feelings of women and young girls their vulnerabilities and weaknesses in terms of making decisions, accessing information and services etc. It provided me with motivation to fight for their rights.

This world would be more independent and free when every person’s is privileged to make decisions on behalf of themselves without any discrimination based on their gender, race, age, religion, sexuality, disability etc. Women need to take charge and to be respected for the choices they make. It is sad that women and girls are often unaware of their sexual and reproductive rights. To make this world a place where women could breathe freely its important that women have control over their bodies. Until that we all have to empower each other, be with each other in difficult times, spread love for each other and fight till we achieve what we believe is the true freedom of all women and girls.

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Youth Champion Pushpa Joshi Pradhan: “ Life is not merely to survive, but rather to live; And the true significance of life is acknowledged when you distinguish yourself as a change maker and put your effort to roll out a few improvements among the lives around you.”

The sense of change maker in myself evoked when I first worked as a facilitator for the young women factory workers to sensitize them about their Reproductive health and rights amid my high school days. The vivid experience of my participation in the first Youth Advocacy Institute (YAI) in 2015 and the Youth Advocacy Refresher (YAR) in 2016 further helped me to nurture the dream that I had seen; The dream of a just society where people living their life enjoying every right to the fullest as mentioned in the UDHR, women enjoying their reproductive rights as specified in ICPD, CEDAW and Beijing rule. The involvement in the YCANN with wonderful team members has also provided me the platform to catalyze the advocacy and the activism that is necessary to meet the dream that I have aspired to achieve. The identification as ‘Youth champion’ carries a sense of pride as well as colossal obligations towards the better future of the women, advancing their sexual and reproductive health rights.

I strongly believe that conversations on important issues like choice, abortion, bodily autonomy, sex, sexuality, sexual and reproductive health and rights, etc., is very essential in order to debunk the myths related to it and to smash the stigmas around it.

In a country where child marriage and unsafe abortion still exists despite progressive laws and where the sexual and reproductive health of women is only limited up to maternal and child health care, it is extremely difficult to talk about bodily autonomy and bring about change in the thoughts and harmful belief system of the general population. But because of the support from the hardworking and like-minded activists and enthusiastic young people, I am extremely optimistic about the future of the women in Nepal and in global society. I have been trying my best to provide the meaningful contribution to amplify the ongoing movement. Being a young woman who has been challenging the patriarchy with other young activists, I foresee a society where women of the upcoming generation will not have to advocate for the same issues that the women from our senior generations had to deal with.

Bodily autonomy is one of the issues I firmly advocate for. It’s a shame that we are still battling for the women’s control over their body. Our body is the only thing which we call it our own; exclusively ours. The true and successful leadership can only flourish when you become the only decision maker over your body. Women and their bodies are controlled by various pillars of patriarchy, including religion, society, family, media and so on, by teaching the girls how to sit, how to dress, how to walk, what to do and what not to do and many more.

No matter how much we shout about global goals and achieving peaceful society, the goals will never be achieved until and unless the women are the masters of their own body.

Stay Tuned for More!

 

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