Weekly News Highlights

Weekly News Highlights

Our global community must stay connected to the issues that impact midwives and their frontline work. Every Friday, ICM publishes a 'Top 5 List' of news stories from the week related to the development world, gender, and maternal health. 

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 30 October 2020:

Gender
 
UN: After 20 years, no equality for women in peace talks,Independent, 30.10.20
The head of the U.N. agency promoting gender equality told the 20th anniversary commemoration of a resolution demanding equal participation for women in peace negotiations that its implementation has failed, declaring Thursday that women still remain “systematically excluded” from talks to end conflicts where men make decisions affecting their lives.
 
Maternal health
 
Providing quality midwifery care amid crisis,Relief Web, 29.10.30
Jamila Garad, 26, is a midwife who carries out outreach midwifery services voluntarily in Gurel Camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and to the host community in villages close to the IDP camp. Ms. Garad graduated as a midwife in 2017 from Galgadud Midwifery School. The school receives financial and technical support from UNFPA Somalia.
 
The Surprising Truth About How Long Postpartum Depression Lasts,Huffington Post, 28.10.20
Postpartum depression may be more severe (though not always) and lasts longer, often appearing weeks after giving birth but sometimes not for a full year — or, as this new research suggests, even longer. It builds on a recent scientific review that found up to 50% of moms with postpartum depression struggle beyond the first year.
 
Protecting Your Birth: A Guide For Black Mothers, New York Times, 22.10.20
The data is heartbreakingly clear: Black women in America have more than a three times higher risk of death related to pregnancy and childbirth than their white peers. This is regardless of factors like higher education and financial means, and for women over 30, the risk is as much as five times higher. This guide is meant to help Black women feel safer, and to provide a modern framework for medical providers to actively address their own racism.
 
Key institutional/ organizational highlights.
 
Beyond “Women and Children”: Gendered Community Engagement Strategies in UN Peace Operations,Relief Web, 29.10.20
Practitioners and advocates have made the call for uniformed women’s increased participation in United Nations peace operations as a central feature of the women, peace, and security (WPS) agenda’s implementation. The UN Security Council is expected to include a woman peacekeeper as a briefer in this month’s Open Debate on WPS alongside the traditional civil society briefer, indicating that the Council recognizes uniformed women as central to implementing the WPS agenda. 
 
Steroids boost survival of preterm babies in low-resource settings, new study finds, WHO, 23,10,20 
The results of a new clinical trial, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, show that dexamethasone—a glucocorticoid used to treat many conditions, including rheumatic problems and severe COVID-19— can boost survival of premature babies when given to pregnant women at risk of preterm birth in low-resource settings.

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 23 October 2020:

Gender
 
Experts call for 'deeper data' on women's realities at UN World Data Forum,Devex, 22.10.20
Just 28% of the science and engineering workforce globally are female, while 20% of ICT professionals are female. This is according to the seventh edition of The World's Women, which provides a snapshot of the latest data on gender equality worldwide. As part of World Statistics Day on Oct. 20, the report was launched at the 2020 U.N. World Data Forum, providing a snapshot of the latest data on gender equality worldwide.
 
When the price of water is sexual assault,Devex, 22.10.20
In a village in Kenya, women wait to fill their jerrycans. While 2 Kenyan shillings ($0.01) should be payment enough, oftentimes the men operating the informal pumps, boreholes, or kiosks demand a higher price. Sometimes, it’s not just money they’re after. In many households that lack access to safe, readily available water at home, the responsibility of visiting the nearest clean water facility often falls to women and girls. But experts warn that leaves them vulnerable to harassment, sexual assault, or abuse.
 
Midwifery
 
Delivering on the promise of UHC for mothers in the COVID-19 era and beyond,Devex, 22.10.20
The COVID-19 pandemic has created tough new challenges for many low- and middle-income countries that already had strained health systems, while simultaneously triggering a socioeconomic crisis that is disproportionately impacting women. Lockdowns, supply chain bottlenecks, diverted resources, shrinking incomes, and fear, combined with limited health information, have made it harder for all populations to access essential health services during the pandemic. Those barriers and the consequences of health service interruptions are often amplified for new and expectant mothers and the children in their care.
 
Midwives on the front lines working to reverse Afghanistan’s high maternal death rate,Relief Web, 21.10.20
Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, according to United Nations data. Some 638 women die per 100,000 live births. Poverty, lack of access to health services and gender inequality all contribute to these tragically high numbers; fewer than 60 per cent of births are overseen by skilled health professionals.
 
Paving a safe road to motherhood for Rohingya adolescents,Relief Web, 14.10.20
Adolescents under 18 years of age constitute 55% of the displaced Rohingya population in Bangladesh. Due to the prevalence of adolescent pregnancies and the lack of access to correct information about sexual and reproductive health in the refugee camps, many pregnant girls in the Rohingya community find themselves at high risk of life-threatening maternal health complications.
 
Key institutional/ organizational highlights.
 
New UN gender study: Women ‘far from having an equal voice to men’,UN News, 20.10.20
Introducing the 2020 edition of The World’s Women: Trends and Statistics, Liu Zhenmin, chief of the UN’s economic and social affairs department (DESA), said that over the last two decades, “attitudes of discrimination are slowly changing” and women’s lives have improved with regard to education, early marriage, childbearing and maternal mortality, all while progress has stagnated in other areas. “Women are far from having an equal voice to men”, spelled out the DESA chief. “And, in every region of the world, women are still subjected to various forms of violence and harmful practices”.
 
Focus on fundamentals as COVID-19 caseloads rise: WHO,UN News, 19.10.20
As COVID-19 cases continue to accelerate, particularly in Europe and North America, the World Health Organization (WHO) is advising governments and people everywhere not to let their guard down, for the benefit of those hospitalized, or working on the front line of the battle to end the pandemic. Last week, WHO reported that the pandemic has entered a worrying phase as the northern hemisphere winter season approaches.

 

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 16 November 2020:

 
ICM in the news
 
The Resurgence of Indigenous Midwifery in Canada, New Zealand, and Mexico, New Security Beat, 16.10,20
Globally, Indigenous women experience worse maternal health outcomes than non-Indigenous women. In the United States, the risk of maternal death is twice as high for Native women than for white women, while in Australia the risk is four and a half times higher. This week’s edition of Friday Podcasts highlights remarks from a recent Wilson Center event with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Confederation of Midwives about Indigenous midwifery.
 
Midwifery/gender
 
More than 700 coronavirus-positive women gave birth at a single hospital. Here’s what it learned, Washington Post, 16.10.20
Over the course of the pandemic, pregnant women from all over greater Mumbai, home to at least 18 million people, converged on the BYL Nair Charitable Hospital. Its doctors believe the hospital has treated the largest number of pregnant women with covid-19 in India — and possibly in the world. Now the hospital’s experience is playing a key role in the global search to understand exactly how the coronavirus affects pregnant women and newborns.
 
Act now for maternity care that can survive the next crisis, Devex, 15.10.20
Earlier this year, seven stillborn babies were delivered in one night in one facility in Harare, Zimbabwe. In June, a laboring woman in India was denied care by eight different facilities over the course of 15 hours. At their most vulnerable hour, pregnant women and their infants are dying, not from COVID-19, but from the consequences of crumbling health care systems and the secondary effects of the pandemic.
 
Surging violence in Burkina Faso threatens women’s access to health care, Devex, 14.10.20
Ramata Sawadogo was eight weeks pregnant when she was chased from her home by gunmen in May of last year. The 30-year-old spent the next few months running from village to village, in search of refuge and health care, in Burkina Faso’s center-north region. At times, Sawadogo walked for more than a week with her six children to reach another town. Other times, she’d sleep in abandoned schools, all the while concerned that the stress and lack of food and medical care would harm her unborn baby.
 
Extreme Pain, but Also Extreme Joy, New York Times, 13.10.20
Powerful images of midwives in Los Angeles, as demand for their services rose during the pandemic.
 

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 18 September 2020:

 
ICM in the news 
 
COVID-19 has disproportionately affected black mothers in America, Media Planet, 23.09.20
During the Black Lives Matter movement, inside the confines of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been painfully reminded of the distressing maternal health outcomes for black American women highlighted in media reports, political speeches, and within the communities impacted by their real-life consequences. ICM President, Franka Cadée and ICM Board Member, Pandora Hardtman have come together to highlight the realities facing birthing and pregnant women navigating maternal and newborn care in the United States.
 
 
Development World
 
How COVID-19 could help create more diversity in the aid sector, Devex, 24.09.20
Global aid is not diverse, and while criticism for its racist and colonialist power structures has been long-standing, decisive actions to diversify voices and transfer power have been limited.The coronavirus pandemic, however, may just provide the opening we need to transform these entrenched systems.
 
Reaching the world's most vulnerable poses biggest challenge for COVID-19 vaccine, experts say, Devex, 24.09.20
Global health and development leaders expressed optimism during the United Nations General Assembly this week that a COVID-19 vaccine is forthcoming and can end the devastating pandemic. But many warned that equitable distribution will face additional hurdles of financing and misinformation once an effective vaccine is found.
 
Gender
 
Slovak conservatives hope to tighten abortion law, rights groups protest, Reuters, 24.09.20
Christian lawmakers in Slovakia hope to win parliamentary approval for a tightening of abortion rules in a vote expected on Friday, part of a trend towards more socially conservative policies across parts of central Europe.
If adopted, the new regulation would still allow abortion on demand until 12 weeks but would double waiting periods to 96 hours, ban clinics from advertising services and make women declare their reasons for termination.
 
Midwifery
 
The Rise of Midwifery in Developing Countries Amid COVID-19, Borgen Magazine, 19.09.20
As an increasing amount of health funding gets redirected to COVID-19 response programs worldwide, other health care areas in need of aid are feeling the impacts. In April, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reported how the pandemic may lead to 47 million women in low-and-middle-income countries losing access to sexual and reproductive health services such as contraception. Moreover, a rise in COVID-19 cases will likely result in pregnant women becoming increasingly wary of health facilities in fear that they might catch the virus. Expectant mothers unfortunately have to worry about the exorbitant cost of delivering a baby on top of it all. As a result, midwifery in developing countries is becoming popular as a safe and cost-effective solution.

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 18 September 2020:

Gender
 
Beirut blast adds to women's money and health worries in Lebanon, Reuters, 16.09.20
As Lebanon reels from the impact of the blast that killed 200 people, injured thousands, forced some 250,000 from their homes and left countless without work, campaigners warn that women face some of the heaviest financial and health burdens. A charter signed by more than 40 civil society groups in Lebanon called for the humanitarian response to focus on women’s needs, as many of those living in parts of Beirut hit by the blast were female refugees, migrants, elderly or unemployed.
 
Why doing nothing is a radical act for India's women,The Guardian, 17.09.20
Sociologist Shilpa Phadke agrees. The co-author of Why Loiter? Women and Risk on Mumbai Streets, which celebrates loitering as a radical act, says: “Leisure or perhaps more importantly the possibility of just doing nothing, especially in public, is a deeply feminist issue. It indicates a claim to the city, the right to be out for fun, to hang out, to belong to the city.”
 
Maternal Health
 
Covid 19 disruptions to health services increasing pregnant women's anxiety in South Africa,Relief Web, 18.09.20
South Africa has one of the largest coronavirus epidemic in the African continent. The total number of confirmed cases is around 633 000, according to the recent figures of the National Department of Health in the country. For thousands of pregnant women and mothers, times are tough and frightening as they might be strongly affected by the disruption of routine health services.
 
Levels and Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2020, Relief Web, 09.09.20
The number of global under-five deaths dropped to its lowest point on record in 2019 – down to 5.2 million from 12.5 million in 1990, according to new mortality estimates released by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the World Bank Group. Since then, however, surveys by UNICEF and WHO reveal that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in major disruptions to health services that threaten to undo decades of hard-won progress.
 
Key institutional/ organizational highlights
 
WHO chief makes last push for countries to join multilateral COVID-19 vaccine effort, UN News, 17.09.20
Countries which have not signed on to a global mechanism that has pledged to provide fair and timely access to a COVID-19 vaccine, are urged to do so before Friday, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) told a virtual meeting of Member States, held on the eve of the deadline.

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 11 September 2020:

Gender
 
Coronavirus: Why are women paying a heavier price?, Aljazeera, 11.09.20
Humanitarian crises can affect the lives of men and women differently - and the coronavirus pandemic is no exception.
"COVID-19 has had a devastating social and economic impact on women and girls, reversing decades of limited and fragile progress on gender equality," United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned last week. 
 
Midwifery
 
Canada announces more funds for midwifery, GBV services in South Sudan during pandemic, Relief Web, 09.09.20
The Government of Canada announced an additional 4.2 million Canadian dollars contribution to the United Nations Population Fund in South Sudan to boost midwifery services and support the response to gender-based violence as the country deals with the chronic humanitarian crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with the UNFPA and the Ministry of Health, the Canadian government is supporting the Strengthening Midwifery Services Project, which aims to address the high maternal death rate in the country, which is one of the highest in the world. The additional funding will support the training and deployment of midwives and other health professionals, and support the South Sudan Nurses and Midwives Association.
 
Why Modern Indigenous Parents Are Turning To Traditional Pregnancy Practices, Huffington Post, 10.09.20
Indigenous women today are increasingly seeking out Indigenous birthing facilities and practitioners ― though culturally appropriate resources are not always easy to find. Chelsea Luger went through her own struggle finding appropriate prenatal health care. She started seeing a non-Native doctor at a tribal clinic, whom she found to be condescending. She needed a provider who respected her, her family and culture, so she sought referrals from her community and ultimately switched to a birthing centre where she found a midwife who offered culturally relevant services. Her midwife was non-Native, but she felt comfortable with her because she expressed respect for traditional birthing practices.
 
Key institutional/ organizational highlights.
 
UN Women Calls for Accelerating its Unfinished Business, Inter Press Service, 07.08.20
Twenty-five years ago, the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing set a path-breaking agenda for women’s rights. As a result of the two-week gathering with more than 30,000 activists, representatives from 189 nations unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
This historic blueprint articulated a vision of equal rights, freedom and opportunities for women – everywhere, no matter what their circumstances are – that continues to shape gender equality and women’s movements worldwide.
 
The Important Role of Women Peacebuilders in COVID-19 Pandemic Response, Relief Web, 10.09.20
The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled existing volatile situations around the world by putting additional stress on fragile healthcare, political, and economic systems. As the international community is urgently responding to these conditions, women peacebuilders have mobilized to mitigate the threats arising in their local communities. While women peacebuilders leading grassroots efforts have always been at the center of creating and supporting sustainable peace, their work is often not being documented or recognized as peacebuilding work.
 

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 04 September 2020:

 
ICM in the news! 
 
The midwife, Devex, 01.09.20
The work of a midwife is not limited to labor wards and deliveries. These health professionals also play a critical role in reducing child and maternal mortality through community education, family planning services, and advocating for women’s reproductive rights.
 
 
Gender
 
15 African statisticians unite to advance gender data across the continent, Devex , 02.09.20
The network, funded by Data2X and launched last year, unites statisticians from across the African continent who are the focal points for gender data in their national statistical offices. The initiative is intended to provide a space for these statisticians to share best practices on what has worked — or what has failed — in their countries, as well as to learn the latest methodologies in gender data gathering.
 
Leading Businesswomen Urge for Gender-Inclusive Post-Pandemic Recovery, Forbes , 03.09.20
Every year, the world’s top 20 economies representing 85% of the global GDP, come together at the G20 forum. This year’s G20 forum is hosted by Saudi Arabia, and Covid-19 will certainly overshadow the discussions. When considering global economic recovery from Covid-19, a group of businesswomen are proposing that gender must be part of the picture. While gender equality has been the core of G20 agenda since 2015, there seems to be more urgency than ever.
 
The girls and women fighting to stop child marriage, The Guardian , 04.09.20
Ending child marriage by 2030 is a target in the UN’s set of sustainable development goals, and many countries have launched strategies to stop the practice. But progress is slow and likely to be badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic as closed schools and financial pressures take their toll on families. In April, the United Nations Population Fund predicted that an additional 13 million children could be married over the next decade because of disruption to programmes.
 
 
Key institutional/ organizational highlights
 
COVID-19 has widened the gender poverty gap, says the UN, World Economic Forum , 03.09.20
The coronavirus pandemic will widen the poverty gap between women and men, pushing 47 million more women and girls into impoverished lives by next year, and undoing progress made in recent decades, the United Nations said. Worldwide more women than men will be made poor by the economic fallout and massive job losses caused by COVID-19, with informal workers worst hit in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, according to new U.N. estimates.
 

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 28 August 2020:

 
International Confederation of Midwives in the news

Opinion: What we learned from the 50,000 Happy Birthdays project, Devex , 25.08.20
Between 2018 and 2020, the 50,000 Happy Birthdays project aimed to save the lives of thousands of mothers and newborns in Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Tanzania. Throughout this project, we have seen how competent midwives can help reverse preventable mortality rates.

Young Midwife Leader, Harriet Nayiga | Bringing Midwifery Services to the Community, Seed Global HealthUBC TV . 21.08.20
Ugandan Midwife and YML, Harriet Nayiga, was recently profiled as part of Seed Global Health's Nurses and Midwives Lead campaign about her experiences as a midwife managing this global pandemic. Harriet also sat down with Uganda's UBC TV to discuss Year of the Midwife, and her work on Uganda's 2nd National Health Care Conference, a knowledge-sharing platform for nurses and midwives that Harriet helped organise.

 
Gender
 
Kenya launches first women’s empowerment index, Devex , 21.08.20
Only 29% of women in Kenya between the ages of 15 and 49 are empowered, according to the new Kenya women’s empowerment index.The study, developed by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics in partnership with the State Department for Gender, UN Women, and UNICEF, is “the first comprehensive and systematic measure” for women’s and girls’ empowerment in Kenya, according to a press release about the launch.
 
Zimbabwe makes it illegal for schools to expel pregnant girls, Reuters , 25.08.20
Zimbabwe has made it illegal for schools to expel pupils who get pregnant, a measure women’s rights campaigners said would help tackle gender inequality in the classroom and stop many girls from dropping out of school. A legal amendment announced last week seeks to reinforce a 1999 guideline that was patchily implemented, and comes as school closures due to coronavirus raise fears of a rise in sexual abuse and unwanted pregnancies.
 
 
Maternal health
 
Coronavirus – Africa: Protecting women’s health during a pandemic, The Guardian , 22.08.20
“If you think about times of crisis—whether it’s disease, displacement, or conflict—women and girls are often disproportionately affected,” says Eva De Plecker, a midwife and head of the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) working group on reproductive health and sexual violence. MSF teams on the ground are seeing that the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.
 
Amid pandemic disruptions, Haiti’s midwives urge pregnant women to continue antenatal care, Relief Web , 24.08.20
Fear of the virus has discouraged many women from seeking maternal health care. Some maternity facilities have reported as much as a 25 per cent decline in patients. Health officials warn that complications of pregnancy and maternal injury or death could rise as a result.UNFPA is working with health workers and partners to ensure safe access to maternal health services, and to encourage pregnant women to continue receiving care.

 
Key institutional/organizational highlights.
 
Global polio eradication initiative applauds WHO African region for wild polio-free certification, World Health Organization , 25.08.20
he Africa Regional Certification Commission certified the WHO African Region as wild polio-free after four years without a case. With this historic milestone, five of the six WHO regions – representing over 90% of the world’s population – are now free of the wild poliovirus, moving the world closer to achieving global polio eradication.Only two countries worldwide continue to see wild poliovirus transmission: Pakistan and Afghanistan. 
 
Funding for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls in Humanitarian Programming, Relief Web , 26.08.20
Thirty per cent of Syrian refugee households in Jordan are female headed. Sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) continues to be pervasive. Intimate partner violence (IPV) against women is commonplace and socially accepted: over 46 per cent of women and 69 per cent of men aged 15 to 49 believe a husband is justified in beating his wife. Early marriage is on the rise, happening earlier now than it used to in Syria before the war.
 
 
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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 21 August 2020:

Black Lives Matter

When incremental change is not enough — dismantling institutionalized racism in health care systems, Devex, 20.08.20
Systemic racism is a global health crisis when people living in resource-poor areas lack access to basic health care after billions of dollars have been invested in international health assistance and when, even in the most resource-accessible nations, race may be the biggest barrier to a long and healthy life. 

Gender

Futures destroyed: COVID-19 unleashes 'shadow pandemics' on Africa's girls, Reuters , 20.08.20
From rape and sexual exploitation to female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage and early pregnancy, COVID-19 has unleashed a myriad of “shadow pandemics” on girls across Africa. Low levels of testing in most nations mean infection rates are likely to be higher, say health experts, adding it is hard to determine when countries will reach a peak in transmission. School closures have left girls open to sexual violence from family, neighbours and community members; lockdown poverty has forced minors into transactional sex to buy basics, they add.

Selective abortion in India could lead to 6.8m fewer girls being born by 2030, The Guardian, 21.08.20
An estimated 6.8 million fewer female births will be recorded across India by 2030 because of the persistent use of selective abortions, researchers estimate.The study, published in the journal Plos One this week, called for strengthened policies that “advocate for gender equity and the introduction of support measures to counteract existing gender biases”.

Maternal health

Uganda court rules government must prioritise maternal health in 'huge shift', The GuardianNew Zimbabwe 21.08.20
Health rights activists in Uganda have welcomed a landmark court ruling that the government should increase its health budget to ensure women receive decent maternal healthcare services

Coronavirus: Majority of pregnant women who died were ethnic minority background, Independent, 20.08.20
A majority of pregnant women who died from coronavirus during the peak of the pandemic were from an ethnic minority background, it has emerged.A new study of more than a dozen women who died between March and May this year also heavily criticised the reorganisation of NHS services which it said contributed to poor care and the deaths of some of the women.

 

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 14 August 2020:

 
Development world.
 
How to move from fragility to resilience, Devex, 13.08.20
The aid and development sectors need to undergo a paradigm shift in order to build resilience among fragile states. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development currently classifies around 60 countries as fragile. It projects that by 2030, 80% of the world’s extreme poor will be living in these contexts, a figure that’s likely to be exacerbated by COVID-19.
 

Gender   

How impact investing can help girls shatter the glass ceiling, Devex, 10.08.20
Governments and private investors have long recognized the importance of investing in education and skills development, in terms of both achieving gender equality and economic resilience. But progress for adolescent girls and young women — a group that comprises an estimated one-eighth of the world’s population — is far from equal, especially when it comes to enabling adolescent girls in low- and middle-income countries to have the same opportunities to find employment and participate in their communities.

Cambodia: bill to ban women wearing short skirts prompts outcry, The Guardian, 07.08.20
A draft public order law that would ban women from wearing short skirts has been condemned by gender rights groups in Cambodia and sparked an outcry online.The draft law, which includes sweeping rules to govern people’s behaviour in public spaces, would prohibit women from wearing items that are “too short or too revealing.” 

UN Women's Executive Director Sees a Path to Gender Equality in Spite of COVID-19, Global Citizen, 11.08.20
The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening years of gender equality progress. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 2020 Report found that female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage are on the rise. Women are also doing more unpaid labor than ever, and access to women’s health care is becoming more limited. Rather than give up now, leaders see the crisis as an opportunity for countries to step up their efforts to create a more equitable world for women and girls.

 
Maternal health 
 
America is failing Black moms during the pandemic, vox, 10.08.20
Long before the pandemic hit, Black pregnant and birthing people around the country were reporting that doctors disregarded their concerns, ignored their wishes, and put them at risk. Out of 10 similarly wealthy countries, the US had the highest number of maternal deaths per capita in 2018. Black women are disproportionately impacted, dying in childbirth at three to four times the rate of white women.Now, birthing people and their advocates say the Covid-19 crisis is only exacerbating the discrimination that Black patients and other patients of color already face from providers — one of the main drivers behind their higher rates of maternal mortality.
 
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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 31 July 2020:

Gender

Anti-Femicide Protests Sweep Turkey, VOA, 31.07.20
A wave of protests sparked by the slaying of a young woman has been sweeping across Turkey as the government considers leaving an international convention that protects women against violence, despite warnings from rights groups about the rising number of killings of women. 

COVID-19 has “devastating” effect on women and girls,The Lancet, 31.07.20
As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates, fears are increasing about the effect of the pandemic on women's and girls' sexual and reproductive health and their access to care. In response to COVID-19, in March, WHO issued interim guidance for maintaining essential services during an outbreak, which included advice to prioritise services related to reproductive health and make efforts to avert maternal and child mortality and morbidity.


Midwifery

France’s post-Covid healthcare reform pushes midwives to the brink, France 24, 27.07.20
Although they were on the front lines throughout the peak of the Covid-19 epidemic, midwives feel forgotten by the healthcare reforms France adopted in the wake of its coronavirus crisis.  

‘Are we seeing the changes we want to see in maternity service provision?’, Nursing Times, 24.07.20
'During the three years that I have been studying for a midwifery degree, there have been many changes to the landscape of both birthing in the UK today and also to the profession of working with birthing women. Between 2017 and 2020 the following has happened', nursing and midwifery student.

Women were 'totally misled' by skewed birthing stats at One to One, Warrington Guardian, 30.07.20
MIDWIVES within the NHS were put under 'huge extra strain' following the collapse of One to One Midwives in 2019.More than 200 women were immediately transferred to Warrington Hospital care. A midwife, who did not want to be named, said: “The folding of One to One Midwives of course caused distress for expectant mums and added huge pressure on already stretched NHS midwives and services.''

 

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 24 July 2020:


Gender

Covid-19 threatens access to abortions and contraceptives, experts warn, The Guardian, 23.07.20
Global rates of unintended pregnancies have fallen from 79 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 49 in 1990 to 64 in 2019, thanks in part to a concerted effort to increase access to contraceptives, but there are concerns that decades of progress in reducing the numbers risk being undone by Covid-19, as lockdown restrictions hamper health services.

Study: Gender inequality increases in media during pandemic, ABC News 23.07.20
Gender inequalities in newsrooms have increased during the coronavirus pandemic according to a survey published Thursday by the International Federation of Journalists. According to the survey of 558 journalists in 52 countries, the COVID-19 crisis had a negative impact on women’s salaries as well as on their work responsibilities, career advancement and private life.

The COVID-19 Gender Gap, IMF Blog, 21.07.20
The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to roll back gains in women’s economic opportunities, widening gender gaps that persist despite 30 years of progress.Well-designed policies to foster recovery can mitigate the negative effects of the crisis on women and prevent further setbacks for gender equality. What is good for women is ultimately good for addressing income inequality, economic growth, and resilience.


Midwifery 

NMC launches new principles for preceptorships, Nursing Times, 23.07.20
The Nursing and Midwifery Council has released a new set of common principles to help employers build an “effective model” of preceptorship for all newly registered nurses, midwives and nursing associates in the UK. The newly updated principles aim to help organisations aim to “achieve consistently high quality and effective preceptorship” for all new registrants.


Key institutional/ organizational highlights.

U.N. director warns of a ‘shadow pandemic’ of violence against women during lockdowns, CNBC, 24.07.20
The executive director of U.N. Women told CNBC that the Covid-19 crisis has significantly “set women back” through challenges including job losses and creating a worrying “shadow pandemic” of violence.
Every pandemic has a gender dimension and many women are facing a much harder time because of the impact of the global response to the virus.

 

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 17 July 2020:


Development World

Alarm as Covid-19 reaches recently contacted Amazon tribe, The Guardian, 15.07.20

The Covid-19 virus has reached a remote reserve for recently contacted indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon, despite efforts to shield the extremely vulnerable population from the pandemic. At least six coronavirus cases have been recorded among the Nahua people, who have lived mostly in voluntary isolation since they were first contacted in the 198os. Fewer than a thousand members of the group live in the Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti territorial reserve, an expanse of 4,556 sq km (1,763 sq miles) in Peru’s southern Amazon. The report has prompted alarm among Amazon indigenous activists who have repeatedly warned that coronavirus could cause a disastrous repeat of previous pandemics that devastated their populations.

2 Billion People Faced Food Insecurity Worldwide in 2019: UN Report, Global Citizen, 15.07.20

An estimated 746 million people suffered from severe food insecurity in 2019 — an increase of 60 million from 2014, when global hunger rates began to climb for the first time in decades — according to the United Nations’ The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 report released Tuesday.  Factoring in the additional 16% of the global population that experienced moderate food insecurity, or the lack of access to sufficient or nutritious food, the report estimates that a total of 2 billion people suffered from food insecurity in 2019. The report shows that the world is far from achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 of ending world hunger by 2030, estimating that 840 million people will face severe food insecurity by the end of the decade, a sobering forecast of the inability of political leaders to address this urgent humanitarian crisis, even as the world produces enough food to feed everyone a nutritious diet. 


Midwifery

New Zealand's rural maternity sector gets $242 million funding boost, Newshub, 16.07.20

New Zealand College of Midwives' President, Nicole Pihema, talks with Newshub reporter, Giles Dexter, about the Government’s significant maternity funding announcement. 

Shrewsbury Hospital: Timeline of a scandal, Independent, 16.07.20

Concerns over the standards of care at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust first emerged following the avoidable death of baby Kate Stanton-Davies in March 2009. In the years since, thanks to her parents and the families of other babies who have died, the Midlands trust has come under intense scrutiny. Despite multiple public pledges that it has made improvements, problems continue to be highlighted.

Key institutional / organizational highlights 

Rise in women prisoners and COVID measures, ‘making sentences worse’, UN News, 16.07.20

More than 700,000 women are in prison around the world, and that number is growing much faster than men, the Human Rights Council has heard. “Globally, women represent between two and 10 per cent of prison populations, but their numbers are increasing rapidly – more rapidly than the increase of male prisoners”, said Georgette Gagnon, head of field operations and technical cooperation at OHCHR. Many women detainees face inhuman and degrading treatment during arrest, interrogation and in custody, including being stripped; invasive body searches; rape and threats of rape; so-called ‘virginity testing’; and other acts, insults and humiliations of a sexual nature.”

 

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 03 July 2020:

 

Development World 

UN: Syria needs $10bn in aid to combat impact of war and coronavirus, The Guardian, 30.06.20

Syria needs $10bn (£8.14bn) in aid to avoid falling into an even deeper crisis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and economic deterioration after more than nine years of war, agencies have said. President Bashar al-Assad, with help from his Russian and Iranian allies, has now regained control of most of Syria in a conflict that has killed at least 400,000 people. The fighting, however, is far from over, and around 7 million people are internally displaced, with 11 million still in need of humanitarian assistance.

Gender 

Women and girls resorting to pillow cases and tea towels as period poverty worsens, Evening Standard, 02.07.20

Period poverty, where women can’t afford to buy period products, has risen dramatically during lockdown as UK workers face furlough and redundancies. Instead, women are resorting to use alternative items in place of menstrual products like tea towels, pillowcases and even newspapers. UK charity Bloody Good Period said while it usually distributes 5,000 packs a month, it has handed out 23,000 packs in the past three months of lockdown. Fellow charity Freedom4Girls said the number of packs it has distributed has risen five-fold in and around Leeds, where it operates. The charity normally distributes 500 packs per month but had given out 7,500 packs since the start of lockdown on March 23.

COVID-19 is the biggest setback to gender equality in a decade, World Economic Forum, 01.07.20

Women around the world are losing paid work and doing more unpaid work as a result of the pandemic. Female entrepreneurs now need support, because much rebuilding will fall on them. Full economy parity was 257 years away, even before the crisis. This piece emphasises on the fact that the longer-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will not be equal for women and men.

Midwifery 

Elias Karanja, the male midwife breaking down gender barriers, Daily Nation, 02.07.20

Elias Karanja, 36, is a midwife at the Aga Khan University hospital. If he were to put a figure on the number of babies he has birthed, 400 would be on the lower end. He notes that he has grown to appreciate the role that women play in the society and that labour pains are no joke

"We're all human, we're all one race.", BBC News – Instagram, 02.07.20

72-year-old retired midwife Gloria Hanley wanted to share her story of the racism she has faced since moving to England from the Caribbean more than 50 years ago. "Wherever racism is, people should be bold enough to speak out against it."

The Ninth WHO Global Forum for Government Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers, Relief Web, 26.06.20

Relief Web reports that the 9th Eighth Triad Meeting organized jointly by WHO, the International Confederation of Midwives and the International Council of Nurses was held through a virtual meeting from the 16th to 19th June 2020. The focus of the meeting was on COVID-19; evidence-informed policy dialogue to advance nursing and midwifery; and the global strategic directions for nursing and midwifery. As a result of the proceedings and deliberations of the meeting, the participants committed to supporting their country in the development and implementation of the 10 key actions.

 

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 26 June 2020:

 

Gender

Why does Covid-19 kill more men than women? Researchers grapple with gender mystery, The GuardianThe New York Times, 24.06.20

Why Covid-19 seems to kill more men than women, and how the virus is impacting frontline health workers who are

Predominantly women, are some of the unanswered questions researchers are grappling with amid the global pandemic. On Thursday, the Australian Human Rights Institute announced it had partnered with the George Institute for Global Health to undertake two Covid-19 research projects that will remove sex and gender biases so often seen in medical research that can prevent patients from getting the best care. Traditionally, medical research has been dominated by men in lead research roles, and their medical research has involved male cells, animals and humans.

Catalyst For Change: Can The Organizational Response To The Pandemic Advance Gender Balance?, Forbes, 25.06.20

Forbes discussing the current working climate and its significance for women, who have been flagging for years that the lack of flexible working is a significant factor in their career choice. It is noted that whilst diversity and inclusion priorities may have been dropped from the corporate agenda in the short-term, some companies are naturally taking a more gender-focused approach to work, without realizing.  

Midwifery + Nursing 

Nursing regulator sets out plans to restart fitness to practise cases, Nursing Times, 26.06.20

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has set out a series of regulatory and education “changes”, including the restarting of physical fitness to practise hearings, as the UK moves towards a “new normal”. The proposed measures, to be reviewed by the NMC’s council next week, focus on enabling a “more stable” learning environment for nursing and midwifery students, said the regulator. The NMC said the changes were designed to help support nursing and midwifery students and professionals as the UK “cautiously transitions to a new phase” in the coronavirus pandemic.

Nurses invited to first ever ‘virtual pride’ for LGBT+ NHS staff on Friday, Nursing Times, 25.06.20

Health service workers from across the county are being invited to enjoy an “unprecedented online celebration” of the LGBT+ community this Friday evening, NHS England has announced. To mark the time of year when thousands of people would ordinarily be gearing up for pride season, NHS England is hosting its first-ever “virtual pride” to celebrate and involve all of its LGBT+ staff. Members of the NHS England and NHS Improvement LGBT+ Staff Network and others have given up their spare time and expertise to organise NHS Virtual Pride on Friday 26 June.

Key institutional / organizational highlights

Tech giants partner with UN Women to provide life-saving information to survivors of domestic violence during COVID-19, Relief Web, 25.06.20

To counter this alarming rise, UN Women offices around the world have partnered with tech giants like Google, Twitter and Facebook to provide important information about helpline services for domestic violence survivors. Among the “Big Five” tech giants, Google and Facebook have partnered with UN Women to make information and resources available to survivors of violence.

 

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 19 June 2020:

 

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter protests: Why are statues so powerful?, BBC, 12.06.20

The recent destruction of monuments in Britain and the US – from the toppling in Bristol, England, last weekend of a bronze sculpture commemorating the 18th-Century British slave trader Edward Colston, to the defacement this week in Boston, Miami and Virginia of statues venerating Christopher Columbus and Confederate leaders – raises intriguing questions about the very purpose of public statuary. The outrage that many feel about having to share the streets with such hulking ghosts of oppression is deep and crushingly real. To address the thorny issue of how best to handle monuments whose aura an appreciable proportion of society finds toxic, countries have begun to adopt a variety of different strategies. In London, the capital’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has announced the convening of a special commission to debate the dismantling (and erection) of the city’s statues. In the US on Wednesday, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, hoping to pre-empt a violent plundering of Capitol Hill, called for the swift removal of 11 statues that commemorate Confederate leaders.

Gender

Romanians protest against ban on gender identity studies, Reuters, 18.06.20

Hundreds protested outside the Romanian president’s palace on Thursday against a proposed ban on gender identity studies which they said would infringe human rights and fuel discrimination. The Romanian parliament approved the ban without public debate this week in the latest initiative by religious and conservative groups to adopt similar policies on gender to neighbouring Hungary and Poland. Romania is one of the only European Union states that bars both marriage and civil partnerships for same sex couples.

Top women's rights group probes claims of racism by staff, Reuters, 18.06.20

The head of leading rights group Women Deliver has apologised and pledged an independent investigation after current and former staff said she ruled over a “toxic” culture of racism. Experts said the problems at New York-based Women Deliver were endemic in the NGO world, with widespread complaints of racial inequality in a sector already under fire for sexual abuse of vulnerable women. President Katja Iversen, who has previously worked at the United Nations, said she would go on leave until the investigation was complete.

No tolerance for crime against women: Twitter launches prompt to help people combat domestic violence, Economic Times, 17.06.20

Twitter on Wednesday launched a dedicated search prompt that will direct people looking for domestic violence-related keywords towards relevant information from the Ministry of Women and Child Development and National Commission for Women. The search prompt will be available on iOS, Android, and on mobile.twitter.com in India in English and Hindi languages. "Every time someone (in India) searches for certain keywords associated with the issue of domestic violence, a prompt will direct them to the relevant information and sources of help available on Twitter," the company said in a statement. This is an expansion of Twitter's #ThereIsHelp prompt, which was specifically put in place for the public to find clear, credible information on critical issues.

Midwifery

The pandemic is making America rethink its shunning of midwifery, The Economist, 20th June edition

A piece taking a deep-dive into the current issues faced by midwives. It notes that even in cities at first less hard-hit than New York, many expectant mothers avoided hospitals where they could. Nancy Gaba, chair of obstetrics and gynaecology at the George Washington University Hospital in Washington, dc, noticed an initial uptick in unplanned home births around the time the World Health Organisation (who) declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

 

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 12 June 2020: 

 

Black Lives Matter

'Black Lives Matter' risks becoming an empty slogan. It's not enough to defeat racism, The Guardian, 11.06.20

An opinion piece outlining the fact that the “Black Lives Matter” slogan has become a token for those who don’t act on ending racism. The main notion of this powerful piece is that even racists hate racism, hence they’re looking for ways to excuse what they do, along the lines of “I’m not being racist it’s just that a lot of Muslims are terrorists” or “it’s not my fault – black people are just a bit more criminal than white people”. This piece also goes on to discuss the why now element of the current Black Lives Matter movement, given that institutional racism has been common knowledge for a period of time now. The key reason as to why this is happening now is because it is resulting in white guilt, as no white person can imagine going through an officer being so unconcerned for a life of a white human being. 

Development World

Study warns of global poverty surge to over 1 billion due to coronavirus, The Japan Times, 12.06.20

The Japan Times reports that global poverty is set to rise above 1 billion people once again as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which is reducing the income of the world’s poorest by $500 million a day, according to new research published Friday. The research by King’s College London and the Australian National University points to poverty increasing dramatically in middle-income developing countries, where millions of people live just above the poverty line. Asian countries, such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines, are considered to be particularly vulnerable to the pandemic’s economic shockwaves with lockdowns severely curtailing activity.

Gender

State of emergency declared on rape and gender violence in Nigeria, CNN World, 12.06.20

State governors in Nigeria have declared a state of emergency on rape following a spate of sexual violence against young women in the nation. The Nigerian Governor's Forum (NGF) called on authorities in all 36 states to create a sex offenders register and sign onto two federal laws with provisions that punish rape and violence against women and children. The Forum has also invited the country's police heads to brief the governors on efforts they are making to tackle sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria, NGF chair Kayode Fayemi said in the statement

Explainer: J. K. Rowling and trans women in single-sex spaces: what's the furore?, ReutersThe GuardianDaily Mail, 11.06.20

“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling released a 3,600 word essay on Wednesday linking her experience of sexual assault with her concern over transgender access to women only spaces. Rowling, 54, published the essay online after being criticised on social media for making “transphobic” posts, which some said questioned trans people’s identity and excluded them from public spaces. Rowling, a domestic violence survivor, said she was worried that “the new trans activism” was eroding women and girls’ rights to single-sex spaces by “offering cover to predators”. “I believe my government is playing fast and loose with women’s and girls’ safety,” she wrote.

Midwifery

Concern over student placement hours lost to pandemic, Nursing Times, 10.06.20

A student nurse has raised concerns about how he and others who opted out of paid clinical placements during the coronavirus pandemic will make up the hours of practice needed to qualify. The Nursing and Midwifery Council requires students to complete 2,300 hours of clinical placement during their training in order to join the register and practise as a registered nurse.

 

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 5 June 2020: 

 

George Floyd / Black Lives Matter

Twitter disables Trump campaign tribute to George Floyd due to copyright complaint, The Guardian, 05.06.20

Twitter has disabled a video by Donald Trump’s campaign team that pays tribute to George Floyd, saying it is the subject of a copyright complaint. The video was retweeted nearly 7,000 times by people including the US president and his son Donald Jr. In response to the video’s removal, the campaign accused the social media site and its co-founder, Jack Dorsey, of censoring an “uplifting and unifying message from President Trump” and urged its followers make a separate YouTube video go viral.

Development World

The world will starve if we keep ignoring disease outbreaks, The Hill, 04.06.20

The global coronavirus pandemic is exposing vulnerabilities in many of the systems we normally take for granted. Hospitals in New York, northern Italy and other disease epicenters have been overwhelmed with patients, putting doctors in the grim position of having to ration medical supplies and care. Food systems are also under strain, as panic buyers empty store shelves of staple products like flour and eggs, and lockdowns lead to farm labor shortages and slower international trade. In low-income countries, the situation is even more critical — business shutdowns and movement restrictions are leaving millions without any source of income, and without government safety nets, many are at risk of hunger and sliding deeper into poverty.

OPINION: End stigma and discrimination against migrant workers and their children during COVID-19 pandemic, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 05.06.20

An opinion piece by various experts of the UN, outlining the importance to include vulnerable and informal economy workers in the measures to fight COVID-19. It is outlined that in South-East Asia and the Pacific, 11.6 million people are migrant workers – 5.2 million of whom are women. Many countries in the region rely on migrant workers for the functioning of their economies to fill local labour shortages.  As of 2019, it is estimated that 2.8 million international migrant children were living in East Asia and the Pacific. Isolation and reduced mobility have increased the risk of abuse, exploitation and trafficking in persons, particularly of women migrant workers (including by employers and partners) and children.


Gender

Japan funds UN Women progs to address challenges of women, girls during COVID-19, UNB, 05.06.20

The government of Japan has contributed US$4,545,454 to UN Women programmes to protect the lives and dignity of women and girls, as well as address the challenges they face by COVID -19. With generous support from the Government of Japan, UN Women will implement its programmes aimed at supporting women and girls facing challenges in the midst of COVID-19 in Asia and the Pacific, Arab States, Eastern and Southern Africa, and Europe and Central Asia.


Midwifery

Yemeni women will die, aid workers warn, as U.N. cuts maternity services, Thomson Reuters FoundationRelief Web, 05.06.20

Women in Yemen are already dying in childbirth and thousands more will be put at risk as U.N. funding cuts force reproductive health services to close, doctors and aid workers have warned. The United Nations is the main provider of reproductive health services in Yemen, where a long-running conflict has left 80% of people reliant on aid, but it has been forced to cut back its operations due to a funding shortfall.

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Here is our Top Five List from the week of 29 May 2020: 

 

Development World

World Bank suggests possible extra replenishment of IDA lending arm, Reuters, 28.05.20

Reuters reports that World Bank President David Malpass on Thursday suggested the Bank and donor countries should explore a possible supplemental replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA) concessional lending arm if the coronavirus crisis deepens. In a letter to U.S. and international lawmakers, Malpass said the huge scale and depth of the new coronavirus pandemic had already rendered a record $82 billion IDA19 replenishment finalized in December too small to help crisis-hit countries.

Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow will be delayed by a year, UN confirms, The GuardianBBC, 28.05.20

A number of top-tier outlets report that global talks aimed at staving off the threat of climate breakdown will be delayed by a year to November 2021 because of the coronavirus crisis, the UN has confirmed. Cop26, which 196 nations are expected to attend, will now take place in Glasgow from November 1 to 12 next year, as reports had anticipated, with the UK government acting as host and president. They were originally set to take place from 9 November this year.

Gender

'We are losers in this crisis': research finds lockdowns reinforcing gender inequality, The Guardian, 29.05.20

Another opinion piece outlining the fact that coronavirus lockdown has reinforced gender inequality across Europe with research emphasising that the economic and social consequences of the crisis are far greater for women and threaten to push them back into traditional roles in the home which they will struggle to shake off once it is over. Throughout the continent, campaign groups are warning that the burdens of the home office and home schooling together with additional household duties and extra cooking, has been unequally carried by women and that improvements made in their lives by the growth in equality over the past decades are in danger of being rolled back by the health crisis.

Covid-19 crisis could set women back decades, experts fear, The Guardian, 29.05.20

The coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating effect on gender equality and could set women back decades, experts have said on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act. In a week during which it was revealed that women are bearing the brunt of extra childcare and housework and are losing jobs in greater numbers than men, campaigners, politicians and work experts said a dearth of female voices at the heart of government also risks putting 50 years of progress into reverse. 

Hungary Outlaws Changing Gender on Documents After Birth, The New York Times, 28.05.20

In a law that legal observers believe is the first of its kind in Europe, Hungary will now tie an individual’s gender to the person’s sex and chromosomes at birth, restricting later modifications on official documents. The bill was signed into law this week by President Janos Ader.


Midwifery

This is what giving birth and prenatal appointments will look like in the future, Glamour, 29.05.20

Glamour spoke to Lesley Gilchrist, registered midwife, and co-founder of My Expert Midwife to find out how much the last few months has impacted new mothers and what giving birth and prenatal appointments might look like in the future. “Some of the biggest changes that women faced during this time include being unable to take partners or family members to their ultra sound scans and not being able to have their chosen birth partner with them until they are in the active phase of labour,” said Gilchrist.

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