As 2007 nears its end, the International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC)
announces the release of the "Top Ten Wins for Women's Health and Rights in
2007" (attached). Over the course of the year, global donors, international
agencies, and influential private foundations realized that investing in the
health of women and young people is investing in the world. From new
commitments to sex education programs to progress on securing a women's right
to abortion, these ten developments show that women's health was a priority
concern in 2007, and will continue to require our attention and dedication in
Thanks to IWHC's supporters and allies, we can add an 11th "win" for women's
and young people's health. In 2007, IWHC made 81 grants to organizations in
Africa, Asia, and Latin America that work to promote the sexual and
reproductive health and rights of women and young people.
For the complete list of wins and more information about how IWHC and its
partners worldwide are working to achieve even greater progress in 2008, please
visit http://www.iwhc.org/resources/toptenindex2007.cfm. As we transition into
the New Year, we ask you to join IWHC and our partners to ensure that the
commitments are honored and women and young people everywhere experience a
healthier and more just world.
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TOP TEN WINS FOR WOMEN'S
HEALTH AND RIGHTS IN 2007
1) GLOBAL HIV INITIATIVES PRIORITIZE WOMEN
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria decides to develop
gender policy to encourage and support national AIDS control programs to invest
in girls and women.
(For more: http://www.iwhc.org/resources/topten2007.cfm#1)
What's next…How will these commitments play out? The Global Fund has created
senior positions, "gender champions," within the agency, and UNAIDS' Global
Coalition on Women and AIDS has a new director, whose charge includes
integrating concern for gender throughout the agency.
2) HEALTH AND RIGHTS TRUMP ABORTION BANS
Mexico City's legislature legalized abortion, making it the largest Latin
American city to allow abortion. In the first 100 days following legalization,
doctors performed some 1,500 legal abortions with no fatalities, compared to an
estimated 3,500 deaths from unsafe abortion in the year before legalization.
(For more: http://www.iwhc.org/resources/topten2007.cfm#2)
What's next...More governments must act. African leaders have called for
"political commitment" to curb unsafe, illegal abortions, and Brazilian
President Ignacio Lula Da Silva labeled unsafe abortion a public health issue.
3) MATERNAL DEATHS MADE A GLOBAL PRIORITY
Global donors pledge new funds to end more than half a million deaths and 10
million injuries—annually, including $1 billion over ten years from Norway,
$175 million over three years from the Netherlands, and $200 million over five
years from the United Kingdom
(For more: http://www.iwhc.org/resources/topten2007.cfm#3)
What's next...More investment is needed. The Global Health Council estimates
that each $100 million invested will prevent 12,000 maternal deaths and provide
basic medical care for four million women.
4) "ABSTINENCE-ONLY" GETS A FAILING GRADE, AGAIN
Two new reviews of "abstinence-only" sex education found no evidence of the
effectiveness of this approach in preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted
infections, including HIV.
(For more: http://www.iwhc.org/resources/topten2007.cfm#4)
What's next... Public pressure is growing for the U.S. Congress to stop wasting
taxpayer money on ineffective programs and start providing adolescents with the
information they need to stay healthy.
5. NIGERIA SUPPORTS SEXUAL RIGHTS
Under pressure from a coalition of NGOs, the Nigerian Parliament rejected an
anti-gay bill, citing concerns over possible human rights violations and
recognizing its encouragement of far-reaching discrimination on the basis of
(For more: http://www.iwhc.org/resources/topten2007.cfm#5)
What's next... Despite heated opposition, more countries are expected to
support sexual rights.
In 2001 the Netherlands became the first country to allow same-sex marriage.
Since then, five other jurisdictions have legalized gay marriage: Belgium,
Canada, South Africa, Spain, and the U.S. state of Massachusetts.
6. STATES ENSURE ACCESS TO EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION
Several states, including Connecticut, Oregon, and Colorado mandated hospitals,
including Catholic hospitals, to inform sexual assault survivors about
emergency contraception (EC) and make it available upon request.
(For more: http://www.iwhc.org/resources/topten2007.cfm#6)
What's next...Countries around the world are holding the line to ensure EC
availability. In Chile, the government instituted fines against pharmacies that
refuse to sell EC. To date, the government has fined nearly 100 pharmacies a
total of $300,000 for failing to provide EC.
7. NEW HAMPSHIRE RESPECTS THE RIGHTS OF MINORS
In June, New Hampshire repealed a law requiring health care providers to notify
parents at least 48 hours before providing an abortion to a woman under the age
of 18. Alaska followed suit in November when its State Supreme Court declared a
similar law unconstitutional.
(For more: http://www.iwhc.org/resources/topten2007.cfm#7)
What's next...Recognition of the rights of young people is growing worldwide.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes young people's rights to
make decisions according to their evolving capacity but these rights are widely
8. SEX EDUCATION IN INDIA GOES NATIONAL
Faced with an estimated 2.5 million HIV cases, India's national government
recommended twice weekly sex education classes for students 14 to 18.
(For more: http://www.iwhc.org/resources/topten2007.cfm#8)
What's next...Will state governments gut the initiative or follow through?
Twelve of India's 29 states have banned sex education in their schools, saying
that the curriculum is too explicit in conflict with "culture." In Maharastra
state, the Indian teachers' union condemned the ban as a "retrograde step" and
has continued to teach the curriculum.
9. MORE U.S. STATES MANDATE PRESCRIPTION EQUITY
Oregon joins 26 other states in requiring that health insurance plans include
contraceptives in prescription drug coverage. Many insurers refuse to cover
contraception, even though they cover drugs like Viagra. Supporters say the
bill, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2008, will affect nearly 1.5 million
(For more: http://www.iwhc.org/resources/topten2007.cfm#9)
What's next...The outcome of the 2008 presidential election could impact
women's health priorities, including contraceptive coverage, at the federal
level. Since 1997, Congress has failed to pass the federal Equity in
Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act, despite bipartisan
support. The next President should push through this health policy, which has
been stalled in Congress for a decade.
10. SCIENTISTS ADVANCE WOMEN-INITIATED HIV PREVENTION
PATH, a nonprofit research group based in Seattle, recently designed a cheaper
and improved female condom, which is the only female-initiated method to
prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy and allows women
greater control over safe-sex negotiations.
(For more: http://www.iwhc.org/resources/topten2007.cfm#10)
What's next...Will the world dedicate itself to putting the power of HIV
prevention in women's hands? The quest for affordable, women-initiated HIV
prevention measures could accelerate with more funding and political commitment
to female condom marketing and distribution and microbicide research.
For the complete report, go to