Topic 1: Access to Reproductive Health Care
Topic 2: Gender Based Violence
Access to Reproductive Health Care
The concept of reproductive health care originated in the late twentieth century as an approach to control the global population; however, it was not accepted until the mid 1990’s at the Fourth World Conference on Women as movements for equality began to strengthen. Through access to reproductive health care, women are able to prevent the contraction of STIs, control when they wish to conceive a child, and ensure safe sex. As a result, researchers see correlations between these: countries that offer reproductive health care have fewer cases of STIs, lower birth rates, etc. and countries without proper health care have more cases and higher rates. While most developed countries offer proper reproductive health care to their citizens, developing states often have few, if any. For example, due to the lacking amount of reproductive health care in India, 6% of its one billion population had prevalent cases of widespread sexually transmitted and reproductive tract infections. Not only does reproductive health care give more freedoms to women over when and how often to have their children, but it aids the UN’s effort to slow global population growth, which allows for cultural sustainability — providing enough resources for everyone to live comfortably. Thus, it is essential for the betterment of society.
As a key aspect of various of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (such as good health and well-being and reduced inequalities), the international body has not only worked to improve reproductive health care for its sub-bodies, but aims to work towards universal reproductive health care by 2030. Led by the United Nations Population Fund and World Health Programme, the UN has utilized its resources to educate women on the reproductive health care that they can access, to encourage men to be responsible sexual partners, to provide basic health care services, and more throughout the international community. Furthermore, it has adopted resolutions, such as E/CN.9/2011/8, E/CN.9/2012/6, sect. V., and E/CN.9/2014/5, that acknowledge the need to increase accessibility to reproductive health care in less developed nations. Through the efforts of the UN, more women have gained more control over their reproductive habits, as well as prevent the spreading of STIs and UTIs.
Brazil struggles with its reproductive health care to its unreliability in the provision of proper health care and the restrictions of abortion, only allowing it if it could potentially risk the mother’s life or if the child was conceived through rape. Additionally, the country lacks proper family planning services, which are key to providing and educating members of society of the resources necessary for reproductive health care, the potential freedoms offered by such resources (such as contraceptives that allow women to choose when to have children), and the ability to have healthier, safer births for children and their mothers. However, through the aid of other countries and their organization, such as USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development), Brazil has expanded its reproductive health care resources, eventually leading to the creation of the largest family planning program in Latin America. As a result of such collaboration, the percentage of married women using modern contraceptives rose from 34% in 1970 to 75% in 2015; furthermore, the total fertility rate of the country fell to levels similar to that of developed countries, a mere two births per woman. Contributing to their success, Brazil established its first population policy in the 1980s, improving women’s health care, rights, and availability of contraceptives. The country even created its own organization to increase efforts to improve reproductive health care rights, named the national Program for Comprehensive Women’s Health Care. Working with USAID, Brazil became home to the Brazil Society for Family Welfare (BEMFAM) in affiliation with the International Planned Parenthood Federation, improving the country’s family planning services. Since this progress towards the advancements of reproductive health care, Brazil has maintained its services to the public, causing a decline in infant mortality rates, total fertility rates, etc. To this day, the country is dedicated to the promotion of healthy pregnancies and family planning for its citizens. Additionally, some citizens have created their own organizations, such as the Comprehensive Women’s Health Programme in 1983, dedicated to teach citizens about contraceptives, sexual health, and significance of health care. Albeit, struggling with the issue, Brazil is making strides towards better reproductive health care and better people.
There is a lack in those who use reproductive health care simply because they are unaware that they have access to it. As a result, it is important to provide education to the international community, showing women the resources that are available to them, such as family planning, contraceptives, etc. More importantly, however, is to educate women the younger they are. As a result, they will be aware of the resources available to them as they go through life, especially important for younger girls in developing countries, where ages at which women marry tend to be lower. Funding and promotion of gender equality is significant to the improvement of reproductive health care, as such rights are essential to women, the advancements of their education, and increased use of health care. Additionally, the planned parenthood program must be expanded, as it offers significant reproductive health resources and readily provide them for those who need it. Offering family planning, contraceptives that do not require familial permission, and more, planned parenthood is a vital resource to all who use it.
Furthermore, through better economic opportunities for women, they will be more knowledgeable about the freedoms and rights that they have, and increase the equality between the genders. Through the decrease in the gender gap, women will more readily have access to the reproductive health care resources that they need and be more willing to search out for such resources due to their knowledge that there is something out there for them. Additionally, such actions will normalize and encourage other women to receive and seek reproductive health care. Such readily accessible resources are important, not only for day-to-day life and the needs that arise, but are necessary for the possibility of emergencies, such as those presented during the outbreak of the Zika Virus.
Diniz, Simone G., and Maria José Araújo. “Commentary: Reproductive Health and Rights in Brazil 20 Years Post-International Conference on Population and Development.” Global Public Health, Routledge, 7 Feb. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4318082/.
Forero, Juan. “Brazil's Falling Birth Rate: A 'New Way Of Thinking'.” NPR, NPR, 15 Jan. 2012, www.npr.org/2012/01/15/145133220/brazils-falling-birth-rate-a-new-way-of-thinking.
Guilhem, D, and A F Azevedo. “Brazilian Public Policies for Reproductive Health: Family Planning, Abortion and Prenatal Care.” Developing World Bioethics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17614992.
Kelly MacDonald. “FMO Thematic Guide: Reproductive Health.” FMO Thematic Guide:
“Meeting the Unmet Need for Reproductive Health Care.” UNFPA, United Nations, www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/resource-pdf/EN-SRH%20fact%20sheet-DeadlyGap.pdf.
“Reproductive Health in Policy & Practice.” PRB, PRB, www.prb.org/pdf/RHPPBrazil.pdf.
Sanders, T G. “Family Planning and Population Policy in Brazil.” UFSI Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 1984, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12313401.
“UNFPA Brazil.” United Nations Population Fund, 26 Sept. 2011, www.unfpa.org/data/transparency-portal/unfpa-brazil.
“USAID's Partnership with Brazil Advances Family Planning.” USAID, USAID, www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1864/Brazil-508.pdf.
“Women Deliver: Real Solutions for Reproductive Health and Maternal Mortality.” New Security Beat, www.newsecuritybeat.org/2010/06/women-deliver-real-solutions-for-reproductive-health-and-maternal-mortality/.
Gender Based Violence
Ever since the beginning of human society, females have been degraded as expandable objects, worth less than the male, a more capable, reliable member of civilizations and families. As a result, women are abused and violated by men for something that they could not change. Founded in the stereotypical roles of each respective gender, men are normalized and, sometimes, expected to harm the opposite sex, whether it be physically, sexually, psychologically, economically, etc. As thus, it is seen as a illustration of the power imbalance between the genders and lack of women’s rights worldwide. Due to the frequency of gender based violence enacted against females, the term has become interchangeable with violence against women. So often, does this occur, that 35% of women across the world have experienced violence of some form, equating to over 1.3 billion violated simply due the presumed inferiority of women. However, some studies have suggested up to 70% of women have experienced gender based violence in their lives.
Recently, modern society has begun to speak out against gender based violence — its victims of either gender — through the increasing momentum for movements, such as feminism (which advocates for equality, not the superiority of women) and an increase in society’s awareness of issues faced by an individual.
As an international body moving for the advancement of society, protecting the safety of the world population, and preserving the peace among the international community, the UN has, not only advocated for equality and end of gender based violence, but has created various campaigns and organizations that aid in the improvement of women’s rights across the world, such as HeforShe, UN Women, UNIFEM, etc. Through their committees, the UN is able to spread awareness through internet campaigns, as well as enact change by deploying its ambassadors to areas to spread awareness in developing countries where women may not even have access to education or be aware of the freedoms they hold. For example, the UNFPA is supporting the Wen-Do lessons conducted by Etijah in Egypt, where gender based violence is a prevalent issue. Through such education and spreading of awareness, instructors have empowered women who were once vulnerable to the will of their counterparts. Such organizations provide a safe space and give opportunities to oppressed women to learn self-defense and stand up for themselves, rather than simply taking in the harrassment.
No different from the international community, Brazil is a prevalent hub for gender-based violence, whether it be domestic, physical, sexual, etc. Despite the country’s laws to protect its citizens from gender based violence, even some specifically prohibiting femicide and violence against women, it has done nothing to improve the situation. Part of Latin America, Brazil is no exception to the prevalent gender violence; the continent is home to the highest number of murders of women. There are resources available to help victims of gender based violence, such as a casa abrigo (shelter house), but without the cooperation of police and courts and lack of actions from neighbors, it is difficult for the country to enforce the laws and protect their citizens. Combined with the presence of drug and gang violence and lack, thereof, budgeting and proper facilities to protect victims of gender based violence, Brazil finds it a struggle to prevent such actions.
In most societies, including Brazil, gender equality is a threat to men’s status, often seen as superior and a priority over women, capable of accomplishing more work. Furthermore, companies would begin actively hiring more females to balance the gap between the genders, thus diminishing the economic opportunities to men. As a result, males tend to oppose gender equality. Thus, it is important to stress the importance of having women in the workplace, encouraging societies to appreciate the contributions and abilities offered by women. Companies and other work places must begin hiring enough women to have a balanced, equally represented environment, eventually normalizing women in the workforce. Governments may be able to provide tax breaks to companies that meet or exceed a standard ratio of male to female employees currently active.
While the rights of women tend to be neglected in certain societies due to cultural norms and traditions in society, females can exercise their rights in a manner similar to the UN-supported program in Egypt, Etijah. Countries could expand the program to their own country, creating “safe spaces” where women can feel comfortable to express their thoughts and find an escape from the perils of their source of violence. The program boosts women’s self-confidence, teaches self-defense, and encourages women to speak up for themselves, with much success, despite the conservative culture of Egypt. Through the expansion of such a program, women can prevent cases of violence perpetrated against them. Additionally, through funding from NGOs, UNFPA, World Bank, etc., the UN will create safe spaces for victims of gender-based violence.
However, to solve an issue, one must destroy the cause. As thus, it is important to teach men and boys the significance of women and the importance of their role to society. While many cultures normalize gender-based violence and the objectification of females, children can and must be taught the importance of equality and respect through programs and activities in school. As representations of the future, children could decrease the extreme rates of gender-based violence across the world. Governments must implement school standards that mandate a course discouraging the use of violence to solve one’s problems. For example, there is a program utilized in the United States’ public schools named “Too Good for Violence,” which teaches children to use methods other than violence to solve their problems and resolve their arguments. Furthermore, such teachings, encouraging the prevention of the entire issue rather than combating the issue at hand, would degrade society’s tendency to assign the blame to the victim, rather than the abuser.
“‘Your Voice Is Your Weapon’: Taking on Sexual Harassment in Egypt.” United Nations Population Fund, 30 Oct. 2017, www.unfpa.org/news/your-voice-your-weapon-taking-sexual-harassment-egypt.
“Brazil: Domestic Violence Victims Denied Justice.” Human Rights Watch, 4 July 2017, www.hrw.org/news/2017/06/21/brazil-domestic-violence-victims-denied-justice.
“Facts and Figures: Ending Violence against Women.” UN Women, www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures.
Garcia-Navarro, Lulu. “For Brazil's Women, Laws Are Not Enough To Deter Rampant Violence.” NPR, NPR, 24 July 2016, www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/07/24/487043309/for-brazils-women-laws-are-not-enough-to-deter-rampant-violence.
“What Is Gender-Based Violence?” EIGE, 14 July 2015, eige.europa.eu/gender-based-violence/what-is-gender-based-violence.
“What's the Difference? Direct and Indirect Discrimination | Acas Workplace Snippet November 2013.” Acas Workplace Snippet November 2013 | Acas, 31 Oct. 2017, www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4614.