Addressing stigma and discrimination is pivotal to creating an AIDS-free future. Council experts John Bongaarts and Julie Pulerwitz discuss how to effectively tackle stigma—and why it has to be a priority—today in The Lancet Global Health.
A new post on the World Bank’s Education for Global Development blog mentions Berhane Hewan, a successful Population Council program in Ethiopia that has helped delay marriage and increase school enrollment by providing incentives to families who send their daughters to school.
On Mother’s Day, I think about the profound bond that’s formed between mothers and their infants. It begins in pregnancy (or even before) as a woman dreams about the baby she will have. At the time of birth, especially in the first hour and through the next weeks and months, the attachment takes hold as the new mother welcomes her baby and responds to his or her needs. It is a bond for life.
Throughout this process, a mother’s health influences her baby’s health, and optimizing a mother’s health begins before pregnancy. When planning her family, a woman may need to consider many factors, including whether she is emotionally, physically, and financially ready for a pregnancy. Being able to access a variety of safe and effective contraceptives and information about family planning is the first step toward safeguarding a woman’s health and that of her future baby.
Research Highlights the Impact of Safe Spaces Initiatives for Improving Girls’ Lives, Strategies for Expanding Access to Family Planning, and a Look at Mortality Projections
NEW YORK (30 April 2014) — The Population Council, an international organization that conducts research to address critical health and development issues, will present findings from more than 25 studies at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America in Boston, MA (1–3 May 2014).
The collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh a year ago killed more than 1,000 people and injured more than 2,500. Many of those injured and killed were migrant adolescent girls who were employed in a garment factory in the building. The tragedy drew attention to safety issues at Bangladesh garment factories and led some to call for boycotts of clothing made in Bangladesh.
Council researcher Sajeda Amin argues against a boycott, calling it a significant step back for the rights and livelihoods of girls and women, whose lives have been transformed by the opportunity to work. “Earning a wage helps young women prepare for a variety of life scenarios, balancing long-term and short-term goals,” Amin says in a blog on The Guardian’s adolescent girls hub. “Rather than risk the gains made by young women in Bangladesh, which were facilitated in large part by the garment industry, I recommend supporting initiatives that build upon these gains and expand opportunities for girls and young women.”
Through PEPFAR and other US Government funding, significant progress has been made in slowing the spread of HIV and AIDS throughout Africa. However, US progress toward creating an AIDS-free future may be compromised by anti-LGBT laws recently passed in Uganda and Nigeria. These laws further marginalize populations at the highest risk of HIV infection rendering them even harder to reach with prevention, care, and treatment services. The potential impact on the HIV epidemic is considerable.
A team of researchers, including three from the Population Council, have developed estimates of the sizes of three key populations at risk for HIV infection in Nairobi, Kenya: men who have sex with men, female sex workers, and people who inject drugs. These estimates are among the first solid data on the size of these populations in Nairobi, providing practitioners with evidence to inform the development of programs that meet the needs of these vulnerable groups.
In the developing world, 222 million women would like to delay or avoid pregnancy, but are not using modern contraception. At the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, the development community committed to reducing this unmet need for modern contraception by reaching 120 million women and girls from 69 of the world’s poorest countries with voluntary access to family planning information, contraceptives, and services by 2020, an agreement known as FP2020. In a recent study, Population Council researchers recommend a promising strategy for reducing unmet need for modern contraception. Rather than focusing solely on reaching women who have never used contraception, the researchers suggested providing better information and services to support women who already use contraceptives, and making it easier for those who previously used contraception to resume use.
For the first several months after childbirth, exclusive breastfeeding is generally an effective method for delaying a subsequent pregnancy. Many postpartum women, however, do not or are not able to breastfeed exclusively. Once a woman begins supplementing her infant’s diet, stops breastfeeding, or resumes menstruation, she should use a family planning method if she wishes to space or limit childbearing.
A novel study conducted by the Population Council and partners in South Africa has shown that teenage girls restrict their own movement in public areas substantially more than same-age boys, younger girls, and younger boys. None of the girls of any age rated any place in their community as more than "somewhat safe." The study, which employed "participatory mapping" among boys and girls in both rural and urban areas, suggests that self-restriction of movement among girls at puberty may result from an increased perception of their risk of experiencing violence or harassment in the community.