NEWS ABOUT WOMEN
Media outlets began reporting on Women 2000-also known as
Beijing+5-which brings together governments and NGOs in New York City for a June 5-9
United Nations special session assessing advances and progress since the Fourth World
Conference on Women held 1995 in Beijing.
Findings from The World's Women 2000, a new UNICEF report released in time for the UN
review, were reported May 30 by Agence France Presse, and May 31 by the Associated
Press, Reuters, Chicago Tribune, Evening
Chronicle (Newcastle, UK), and InterPress Service. According to
the Chicago Tribune, "five years after a global summit on women's
issues, women around the world have made strides in employment and education but still
comprise half of the world's refugees, two-thirds of its illiterates and more than half of
those who died from AIDS last year."
A May 30 Associated Press story on a new documentary screened at the
United Nations noted that the Beijing Platform for Action "set an ambitious goal of
achieving full equality between women and men" and "spelled out objectives in a
dozen critical areas including ensuring the right of women to decide matters of sexual and
reproductive health." The May 30 USA Today and May 31 NBC
Today Show also reported on the new documentary, "Realities of Girls' Lives:
How We Can Act Now," which is hosted by actress and advocate Jane Fonda and examines
the lives of Nigerian girls.
[NOTE: The next media analysis will report on the extensive print and broadcast coverage
of Women 2000 by media outlets throughout the world in June.]
The May 26 Deutsche Presse-Agentur
reported that "Vietnam is experiencing a dramatic rise in births this year,"
with the birth rate "shooting up nine percent over the same period last year."
While in Japan, employers are giving "congratulatory bonuses to workers who become
parents" in order to "reverse record-low birthrates that pose many long-term
problems" according to the May 30 New York Times.
THE SEE CHANGE
Media outlets across the country reported on recent
developments in the See Change campaign, spearheaded by Catholics for a Free Choice
(CFFC), which "has called on the United Nations to revoke the Vatican's status and
says the church has used its power at the world body to limit access to family planning
and safe abortions," according to the May 27 Washington Post.
The May 27 New York Times reported that Republican presidential candidate
George W. Bush "took the side of the Vatican in [the] battle over its status at the
United Nations" and Vice President Gore "and the Clinton administration backed
the Vatican's permanent-observer status as well." The May 26 Associated Press and May
27 Los Angeles Times also reported on the story.
The Associated Press and Reuters reported May 16 that
the U.S. Catholic bishops conference issued a statement denouncing the See Change
campaign. CFFC "defended itself against [the] denunciation...saying it was being
targeted for its effectiveness in presenting the views of dissenting Catholics,"
according to a May 17 Associated Press story.
UPDATES ABOUT FAMILY
PLANNING AND CONTRACEPTIVES
A May 26 Panafrican News Agency story
reported that Ghanaian First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings launched a campaign to
introduce the female condom in Ghana. The story noted that Ghana has "the second
highest prevalence of HIV in West Africa" and the female condom gives "women
greater control of their reproductive health."
The Ugandan Ministry of Health has made emergency contraceptives available in that
country, which "has one of the highest numbers of teenage pregnancies in sub-Saharan
Africa," according to the May 30 Africa News Service.
In the United States, "emergency contraceptives are still not within easy reach of
many women," according to the May 22 Los Angeles Times, and
"health activists are trying to improve access...[to]reduce the nation's high rate of
INTERNATIONAL FAMILY PLANNING
The May 22 Washington Post reported that
Republican leaders in the House of Representatives "made a plea to members to refrain
from offering potentially divisive amendments that could bog down" spending bills.
However, "Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) is almost certain to insist again on an
amendment to the foreign operations spending bill barring funds to international family
planning groups that lobby for abortion reform."
The May 25 Washington Post published an
editorial criticizing Congress for "play[ing] games with the UN money." The
editorial noted that "six months ago Congress and the administration concluded a
three-year fight over the United States' unpaid dues to the United Nations," which
"took that long...because a single congressman, Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ),
blocked the money in the House until he won concessions on family-planning policy."
The San Diego Union-Tribune stated May 23 that "last year, a handful
of isolationists and anti-abortionists blocked payment of the $1.7 billion in back dues
America owes the United Nations" in an editorial urging members of Congress not to
"substitute [their] views for the policy of the United States."
An editorial in the May 18 Providence Journal-Bulletin urged the United
States to "do more to help India stabilize its population growth," on the
occasion of India's population reaching one billion.
Save the Children's State of the World's Mothers 2000 was the focus of a May 16 Albuquerque
Journal editorial, which noted that "the mother's level of education and use
of voluntary family planning methods were most closely tied to improved status for both
mother and child."
A May 30 Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial urged the world to help
stem agricultural land erosion, "in a world where human population is increasing
rapidly" and "more, not less, arable land is needed to feed Earth's growing
A lengthy column in the May 28 Plain Dealer by Tom Brazatis highlighted
findings from the Worldwatch Institute's Vital Signs 2000 report. He noted that world
population reached 6 billion last year, which was not surprising since "120 million
women in developing countries have no access to family planning services and another 350
million women lack regular access."
A letter to the editor in the May 17 New York Times by Center for
Reproductive Law and Policy President Janet Benshoof challenged the notion that
"reproductive rights" refers only to abortion. Instead, according to Benshoof,
"these rights include the right to decide on the number, spacing and timing on one's
children and to have the information, education and the means to do so," which
includes "services related to family planning, maternal health, treatment of HIV-AIDS
and sexually transmitted infections, infertility and reproductive cancers."
The above analysis was written by Ketayoun
Darvich-Kodjouri and Kathy Bonk at the Communications Consortium Media Center, 1200 New
York Avenue, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005, 202/326-8700.
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