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by Frederick Clarkson, first published in the WomensENews commentator on February 24, 2010

A religious think tank has issued a manifesto about breaking the silence in religious communities about a host of sexuality issues. It hasn’t stirred much media attention, but Frederick Clarkson thinks it could be revolutionary.

(WOMENSENEWS)–The Religious Institute has just issued a 46-page report on the state of sexuality in religious communities and a manifesto that seeks to transform the status quo.

Goals include improved pastoral care of marital relationships, domestic abuse and infertility, and training for prospective clergy in sexuality-related matters.

The institute calls for religious leaders to provide lifelong age-appropriate education for youth and adults and to become more effective advocates for comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health in society.

Clergy are often first responders in matters of domestic violence and potential (and actual) suicides by young people struggling with sexual identity. The Religious Institute points out that these first responders have usually received little to no training for the job.

A singular strength of the document is that it offers an uncompromised progressive vision that does not conform to recent fashions in seeking “common ground” with conservative
evangelicals and Catholics.

Particularly striking in this regard is its call for a society in which there is full access to reproductive health care, including abortion, marriage equality and full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the life of religious communities.

Since it was announced two weeks ago, the report, “Sexuality and Religion 2020: Goals for the Next Decade,” has generated little media attention beyond a few regional newspapers and online news sites.

Sometimes, this is the quiet way revolutions begin.

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crossposted from unaids.org

According to a new report published by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), estimated 50 million women in Asia, who are either married or in long-term relationships with men who engage in high-risk sexual behaviours, are at risk of becoming infected with HIV from their partners.

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The HIV epidemics in Asia vary between countries in the region, but are fuelled by unprotected paid sex, the sharing of contaminated injecting equipment by injecting drug users, and unprotected sex among men who have sex with men. Men who buy sex constitute the largest infected population group – and most of them are either married or will get married. This puts a significant number of women, often perceived as ‘low-risk’ because they only have sex with their husbands or long-term partners, at risk of HIV infection.

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Cordaid and Partners reward Home Based Care Leadership in responding to HIV and AIDS. Win up to 15.000 Euro!

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AIDS has changed the fabric of communities around the world and placed a burden on the lives of many people, especially girls and women, young and old. With health systems failing and people living longer with HIV thanks to access to Antiretrovirals (ARVs), mainly poor women, are increasingly forced to devote their time, energy, skills and the little resources to care for their family members at home and provide their services to the wider community, often at great expense to themselves. This invisible task-shifting is insufficiently recognised, valued and validated as work.

Prize of €15.000 and €5.000 for HBC Leadership

The Catholic Organisation for Relief and Development (Cordaid) and partners of the Caregivers Action Alliance’s (CAA) Organising Committee (HelpAge International, Huairou Commission, VSO International) as well as the World YWCA, reward and encourage leadership around the strengthening of home based care in responding to HIV and AIDS in the “global South” by awarding €15.000 for an organisation and €5.000 for an individual. Cordaid and partners are seeking applications from organisations or individuals committed to supporting home based care as a necessary, effective, and community-based initiative – recognising home based care as an insufficiently resourced, under-valued and unrecognized solution for mitigating the effects of HIV and AIDS.

How to submit

Submissions can be sent up to 15 September 2009. To download the Rules and Procedures as well as the Application Form, visit the website: http://www.cordaidpartners.com/rooms/hiv-and-aids-award-2009. For more information please contact HIV_and_AIDS_Award@cordaid.nl or visit www.cordaid.nl.

UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) released report HIV vulnerabilities of migrant women: from Asia to the Arab States: shifting from silence, stigma and shame to safe mobility with dignity, equity and justice (full-text, 2.27 MB). The report is a result of a study that focused on the vulnerabilities of Asian women who migrate to work in the Arab States. The women migrants, who bring substantial economic benefits for both – countries of origin and host countries, become easy targets for violence and sexual exploitation. Lack of legal coverage and limited or no access to health and social services make these women especially vulnerable to HIV. The report provides methodology of the study, key findings and recommendations, as well as regional analysis, country reports on four countries of origin and three host countries.

In a very exciting turn of events, Ecumenical Women was requested by the CSW to deliver not one, but two oral statements on behalf of our coalition.  The first statement, on the topic of women and the financial crisis, was read aloud on March 5, 2009 by EW member Verónica Biech, a young woman of Argentina, stating:

For Ecumenical Women, genuine development is one that fosters just, equitable and caring relationships. Equality between women and men of all races and classes is a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice; it is a fundamental prerequisite for development and peace. Due in large part to the efforts of pioneering UN conferences on women, there is now growing acknowledgement that development cannot be attained without gender equality.

We affirm that women are also part of the solution to the global financial crisis. It is critical, therefore, that women are intentionally, strategically and systematically involved in the discussions and decision-making processes around the global financial crisis

Ecumenical Women’s second oral statement was read today at the United Nations by Facia Boyenoh Harris of Liberia, another young woman representing Ecumenical Women.  The topic of the statement was the priority theme of CSW53: “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV and AIDS,” of which Ecumenical Women reiterated our core stance on the issue:

In conclusion, as women and men of faith, we are committed to the creation of a more equitable society between women and men that is also free from AIDS. Grounded in our faith and commitment to global justice, we believe that the church – at its best – can be a transformative center which models gender equality, resists systems of oppression, supports and promotes women’s rights. We reaffirm our belief that both women and men are created in God’s image. We recognize that the face of AIDS is becoming younger, poorer and more female, and we all must partner to meet the needs of these women where it exists.

by Jacqueline Mukamusana

On Wednesday 04 March, 2009 at CSW meeting in the UN Auditorium, UNIFEM organized a Panel where speakers from various organizations, grassroots, government and UN agencies to discuss on the issue of caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS.

Around the word, gender norms assign women the primary role in caring for people, especially those who ill and dying from HIV and AIDS.
Poverty and inadequate health systems have fostered reliance on home-based, unpaid care. While many family members provide support out of love and compassion, those who are already poor are frequently pushed into destitution by additional financial and emotional burdens. The tendency to rely on women for care greatly reduces their access to opportunities for education and decent work. Political participation and other avenues to women’s empowerment suffer as well.

According to the discussions, the following areas needs more action:

  • Value and visibility of care work: care work must be recognized and valued by individuals, communities, civil society and government and its gender implications acknowledged.
  • Resources: Governments, donors and private sector should provide resources to meet diverse needs of care givers, including for infrastructures and social support
  • Policies: Health and social policies need to ensure care can be provided without placing excessive burdens on households.
  • Education: both parents should work together to educate their children in care work both boys and girls

UNIFEM is doing much to respond:

  • Investing in research for better understanding
  • Promoting community initiatives to address the gender equality dimensions of HIV and AIDS
  • Convening care givers and partiers to develop advocacy strategies
  • Integrating gender dimensions of HI and AIDS in national plans and programs
  • Supporting participation and leadership of women affected by HIV in national responses.

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