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MmeLindor is in Kenya blogging about Reproductive Rights

(151 Posts)
LynnCSchreiber Fri 22-Jun-12 08:40:29

I am in Kenya this week blogging about reproductive rights.

200m women worldwide want to use contraception but have no access to it.

Melinda Gates has launched a campaign to change this. A group of bloggers from around the world are visiting various projects in Kenya to report on the reality of life without contraception.

Access to contraception means that women can decide when, how many and in with which age gap they have their children.

This has far reaching effects on the lives and the lives of their families.

more here

250 000 maternal deaths worldwide, high infant mortality, unwanted babies, unsafe abortion.

I have been here for several days and have written a couple of blog posts about the projects we have visited. I've been having wifi issues so no pics yet, but I have tweeted some pics - you can follow me @lynncschreiber to see them.

I've met an amazing woman who is a Mother Mentor in a HIV/AIDS support project. She meets newly diagnosed mothers and helps them come to terms with their illness and learn how to increase the chances that their babies will be HIV negative.

She was so inspiring. She told me that she is living positively and is so happy that her son is a Negative Baby. She now tells other women about family planning and how to access it. The program is run by the CDC - who are doing amazing things for rural communities.

Women walk for hours to health clinics only to find that they are out of contraceptive supplies.

The Gates Foundation is teaming up with the UK government to host a worldwide family planning summit in London this July.

I will also be linking to the blogs of the others on the trip.

LynnCSchreiber Fri 22-Jun-12 08:52:17

Gates Foundation blog with links to the other blogs

FrothyDragon Fri 22-Jun-12 08:54:35

I'd twigged you were out of the country on "business", (wasn't sure the nature of it) but this is BRILLIANT!

BIWItheBold Fri 22-Jun-12 08:57:13

Fab - I was looking forward to reading about this. And look at the other 10 bloggers you're with! What a line-up.

LynnCSchreiber Fri 22-Jun-12 09:14:05

They are incredible. An amazing mix of
People and interests.

Himalaya Fri 22-Jun-12 09:37:35

Thats fab!

MrsKwazii Fri 22-Jun-12 09:46:24

Brilliant Mme, will set aside some time to read yours and others' posts later. So easy to take contraception for granted when it is so readily available here, you forget the difference it makes to individuals and society as a whole.

LynnCSchreiber Fri 22-Jun-12 09:52:46

If you blog, then do join in the bloghop

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 22-Jun-12 10:39:31

Hello. We've going to move this thread to Campaigns now - as this is something we are very pleased to be backing officially.

Himalaya Fri 22-Jun-12 11:00:09

Save The Children are asking people to sign their petition and write to their MPs in advance of the summit to support the call not only for donor governments to put more money into supporting family planning around the world, but also to make sure that is done in a way that puts women's rights first - so it is not about doctors and health departments meeting quotas but ensuring women are empowered to decide when to have children.

link here

ripsishere Fri 22-Jun-12 11:38:22

Signed the petition. It really is an important issue.
I hope that condoms aren't the only suggested contraceptive. I knew a number of women when I worked in London who were pregnant again and again because their DHs refused to use them.

LynnCSchreiber Fri 22-Jun-12 12:41:20

No, not just condoms, but obviously in certain counties with high HIV+ rates they are a good choice

A lot of women here ask for long term contraceptives that they can hide from their husbands.

LemonBreeland Fri 22-Jun-12 12:48:54

Wow, amazing work. Do the husbands just want them to keep having babies then? Is that why they need to hide contraceptives?

LynnCSchreiber Fri 22-Jun-12 13:21:32

It is very entrenched in culture here to have lots of babies. There is also the issue that men think their wives will be promiscuous if they use contraceptives.

ripsishere Fri 22-Jun-12 13:24:40

I understand that Mme. IME, both in London and ME where DD was born, the more children a man fathers, the greater his manliness/masculinity is.

ThePathanKhansWitch Fri 22-Jun-12 13:48:35

Oh good work MmeLinddor!. Petition signed.

LynnCSchreiber Fri 22-Jun-12 17:15:08

Thanks for linking to the petition, Himalaya. The London Summit is a huge step forward, so it is important that we make it clear to our government that this is an important topic.

We are in the Laikipia county today, looking at how tourism can run hand in hand with community care and wildlife conservation. This resort has raised USD 7m so far for the community. We will be visiting some of the villages tomorrow.

LynnCSchreiber Fri 22-Jun-12 17:16:39

This video of the Melinda Gates TED talk explains what we are doing very well.

lionheart Fri 22-Jun-12 19:08:44

This is brilliant and the blogs are so interesting.

LynnCSchreiber Fri 22-Jun-12 19:33:10

Lots more to come. We've had Internet access issues and many of us haven't been able to post as much as we would have liked.

SuePBlovesaDiamondJubilee Fri 22-Jun-12 19:45:16

On my wall on the faceaches - really impressive stuff smile

Fenouille Fri 22-Jun-12 19:54:36

If you're in Laikipia looking at eco-tourism projects does that mean you're visiting Astrid at Marengo Farm? I hope you are as she's lovely and what they're doing there is very important. We really hope to go back again one day.

And thank you for blogging on such an important issue for women's health. It must be so interesting and inspiring meeting these women.

LynnCSchreiber Fri 22-Jun-12 20:47:39

I'm not sure, but I will ask around. We are at the Ol Pejata conservancy centre at the moment and have meetings tomorrow with a women's group.

There are incredible women here - and men too, of course. We met a woman from the PATH organisation who was incredibly inspiring. I had a bit of a girl crush, I have to admit.

We also met Mama Sarah - the step granny of Barack Obama. You can read about her and her shagging rabbits here

And if that intro doesn't make you click, then nothing will.

Actually, do have a look at Irin's other work. She is fabulous and is teaching me loads about feminism and abortion.

Fenouille Fri 22-Jun-12 21:12:49

Astrid's farm is in the Rift Valley, so not quite where you are now. They do a lot of work in the environment as well as sponsoring a local orphanage.

The women you're meeting indeed sound inspirational.

caramelwaffle Fri 22-Jun-12 23:44:09

Good work all round.

Looking forward to reading everything.

LynnCSchreiber Sat 23-Jun-12 06:31:25

Could you pm me the details of the farm? I will ask if we can go there

LynnCSchreiber Sat 23-Jun-12 06:38:35

Also interesting is the fear that all the aid workers have here of the prospect of Mitt Romney winning the US election. The reintroduction of the gag rule would affect funding for projects in this area.

LynnCSchreiber Sat 23-Jun-12 07:55:54

Latest post about a mother Living (HIV) Positively. This woman was amazing. I cried after meeting her.

Can't get photos to load but will try later again.

LynnCSchreiber Sat 23-Jun-12 07:56:53

Could someone change that into a clickable link?

GentleOtter Sat 23-Jun-12 13:29:09

Thank you for raising awareness to this subject and petition signed.

Please avoid Mombasa if possible - there are warnings of trouble there.

LynnCSchreiber Sat 23-Jun-12 13:39:28

Yes, been told that, GO. One of our group just cancelled a trip to Mombasa. Security in Nairobi was already tight so will be interesting to see if any change.

LynnCSchreiber Sat 23-Jun-12 13:58:15

We visited a local dispensary today where they offer vaccinations and family planning advice. Will be writing about the women there later. An African blogger suggested I take sanitary protection, because the girls here don't have any and it means they stay home from school.

I handed over 2 packets of sanitary pads and some cheap tesco knickers. You'd think I'd brought them gold.

I asked what they use when they don't have san pro and she said they cut up rags and old blankets.

I'm hoping to start a campaign when I get back to send the group I met some products. I hope that MN will support this

Fenouille Sat 23-Jun-12 14:51:23

I would definitely support such an initiative.

I've also sent you some links about the farm and orphanage. If anyone is interested they are always looking for sponsors and support and you can find out more here: (in French)

Take care over there MmeLindor.

TheWomanFormerlyKnownAsSGM Sat 23-Jun-12 14:52:29

This is such an amazing thing. I think your campaign is a wonderful idea and will definitely be supporting yousmile

LynnCSchreiber Sat 23-Jun-12 16:57:59

Thanks, Fenouille. I think we are further away from that place, but it looks great.

We took a break this afternoon and went on a short game drive. It was fab. We scared ourselves to death by stopping very close to a huge elephant.

LynnCSchreiber Sat 23-Jun-12 17:45:00

Living (HIV) Positively now with pics

My first report, from the Slums of Kibera

and the one from the maternity hospital in Nairobi

Have finally managed to get photos up, so that you get some visuals of what it is like here.

LeB0F Sat 23-Jun-12 17:47:19

I can't copy and paste the links to open them- how do we get sanpro out to these girls?

LynnCSchreiber Sat 23-Jun-12 18:04:55

I am going to find out the best way of doing this, not sure yet. I am sure that there are people out here who can help me set something up (or find a programme that is already in place that we can support)

I was at the CDC, an US organisation for disease control and prevention and they are doing a mooncup trial in the next year. I will be writing about that next week.

LynnCSchreiber Sat 23-Jun-12 18:05:18

links should be clickable, BOF

LynnCSchreiber Sat 23-Jun-12 18:25:30
LeB0F Sat 23-Jun-12 19:08:54

Amazing photographs smile

Fenouille Sat 23-Jun-12 21:07:53

Great photos. I was also thinking mooncup....

NormaStanleyFletcher Sat 23-Jun-12 21:32:56

Oh well done Mme.

LynnCSchreiber Sun 24-Jun-12 08:36:46

More pics on the Flickr account today. We are heading back to Nairobi today, after taking part in a game drive this morning.

LynnCSchreiber Sun 24-Jun-12 09:41:47

Hoping to visit a project where they work with teen girls tomorrow. And possibly meet some techy Kenyans to talk about the role of social media here. Wonder if they have a Kenyan Mumsnet

nenevomito Sun 24-Jun-12 16:09:57

MmeLindor, you're amazing. That is all smile

Doobydoo Sun 24-Jun-12 18:12:15

Great have just read about this in Independent.Really crucial women get the support they need.

well done mmelindor.

Hassled Sun 24-Jun-12 20:11:32

You're doing something really amazing, MmeL - am in awe. And great photos.

Are mooncups a good solution without access to clean running water? I'm thinking of the need for good hygiene etc - could they not cause more problems?

LynnCSchreiber Mon 25-Jun-12 08:41:09

that is what the CDC will be looking into. Their program will look into ways of coping with the hygiene issues. There is a similar program running in South Africa, so will be looking into that.

Keep sharing, folks.

Here is the Indie article from Sarah Morrison

LynnCSchreiber Mon 25-Jun-12 09:58:23

Charlott wrote about the Global Gag Rule in German

Sanchita wrote about meeting Sarah Obama

Irin on Mitt Romney -- do read some of Irin's articles. She is an amazing woman.

Lola writes for El Pais about maternity hospital in spanish

More here - do click through to the websites of the bloggers

LynnCSchreiber Mon 25-Jun-12 10:03:13

Well done smile

Macdog Mon 25-Jun-12 14:52:49

Humbling to read of the difference sanpro and underwear makes to these women.
Keep up the good work Mme

LynnCSchreiber Mon 25-Jun-12 15:20:56

Some info on a mooncup trial in Kenya (PDF)

Will follow up on it, but basically, the rise in children attending school did not rise dramatically, and there were some hygiene issues. Generally though, the girls were positive towards the mooncup, as they found it easier to hid their menstruation from others in the class.

Great campaign!

I am a little envy of you MmeLindor - and in awa [schoolgirl blush]

Many, many moons ago, I was part of a public heath campaign in Uganda, promoting Safer Sex, HIV/AIDS awareness and basic hygiene for birth attendants. It was the single most eye opening period of my life. I came away v humbled and actually feeling more dubious about external attempts to influence change IYKWIM (too much money changing hands from poor to rich - on individual level and across countries), but at the same time feeling very keenly how desperate the need for change was/is.

As I have in the meantime become so totally caught up in my own life, I am always heartened to hear of people who find the time/strength/brain power to keep Doing Something.

Here endeth my bump

And I cannot spell 'awe'...

LynnCSchreiber Mon 25-Jun-12 16:48:39

Thanks, PD.

It is something that I have massively struggled with on this trip. There are THOUSANDS of NGOs in Kenya (I heard it said that there were 6000 in Kibera slum alone, but presume that is as much exaggerated as the estimated 1m people who live there).

It is the reason why I am keen to look into the san pro issue, but wish to get involved with a group that is already here.

Someone said yesterday that there is more to Africa than bloated bellied babies with flies on their eyes.. there is a lot of truth in that. There are incredible entrepreneurs, IT start ups, and some great businesses in Nairobi.

Corruption is a massive issue, although it is improving. We had a meeting today with the manager of the who was telling us that it is better than it was, as hard as that is for us to believe. (good website if you want to be informed of any issues here btw)

LynnCSchreiber Mon 25-Jun-12 16:58:18
Fenouille Mon 25-Jun-12 19:19:52

Very inspiring links. FWIW, I think teaming up with an existing NGO is a great idea - I really get the impression that there are so many people trying to do good in Africa that finally nothing really gets done properly.

AbigailAdams Mon 25-Jun-12 22:38:38

Amazing campaign MmeLindor. I'll try and read all the links tomorrow. Good luck.

LynnCSchreiber Mon 25-Jun-12 22:45:31

Thanks all.

Gates Foundation blog featured one of my posts and many other articles on this topic. It is well worth a look

LynnCSchreiber Mon 25-Jun-12 22:46:52

Whoops. Wrong link (but that one is excellent too!)


LynnCSchreiber Mon 25-Jun-12 22:49:13
LynnCSchreiber Mon 25-Jun-12 22:49:37

Oh. And this.

Will make you laugh

LynnCSchreiber Tue 26-Jun-12 07:15:58

London Family Planning Summit

I've been invited to live blog the summit so if you have questions, post them here.

Hullygully Tue 26-Jun-12 09:19:57

Oh well done MMe! <claps and cheers>

LynnCSchreiber Tue 26-Jun-12 09:39:53

Going to a newly opened maternity clinic that also has mobile maternity vans later today.

Hullygully Tue 26-Jun-12 09:44:49

I like Mama Christina

Hullygully Tue 26-Jun-12 09:47:02

Your post fab too. And great pics.

How is the heat/tiredness/mosquitoes?

LynnCSchreiber Tue 26-Jun-12 10:46:47

Been cool actually, Hully. We slept in tents in laikipia and it was quite a challenge to get out of bed in the morning.

Mosquitos fine but I did get bitten by fire ants. Ow. Ow.

LynnCSchreiber Tue 26-Jun-12 10:47:12
silverfrog Tue 26-Jun-12 12:00:54

MmeL - well done, and how inspiring.

I nearly had dd1 at Nairobi Maternity Hospital (in the end had to go to the Aga Khan, as much closer to where we were living, and security risk of travelling through the city at unknown hour etc).

On the corruption front, please do spread the word about ATI. set up to combat this very issue, pan-Africa, it might have some ideas to help with movement of goods and distribution etc.

LynnCSchreiber Tue 26-Jun-12 13:49:36

We passed the Aga Khan earlier.

We were out at a new maternity hospital. It is funded by donations but aim is to be a for-profit clinic. We were pretty impressed by it - it was based on western style birthing centres, midlife-led, patient-centred.

It was very impressive. Would love to come back in 6mths and see what it is like then.

LynnCSchreiber Tue 26-Jun-12 13:50:58

Silver -
Forgot to ask. Did you hear anything about women being kept captive in hospital if they can't pay their bills? Heard some horror stories in the past week.

silverfrog Tue 26-Jun-12 14:04:50


silverfrog Tue 26-Jun-12 14:13:24

Grr phone...

New maternity hospital sounds great, and much need. I had dd1 nearly 8 years ago, and patient lead was not on the agenda then... I think it was more at Nairobi Hospital, but the Aga Khan was very medicalised indeed.

Yes, being held until you pay your bills was not unheard of. We were diplomats, and so had certain privileges, but even so it was tried often (eg pay now, when the BUPA payment comes through we'll refund you - err, yeah right). I was once held in the car park of the Aga Khan as had lost my carpark pass - nothing like being held in hospital post proceedure, but intimidating nonetheless. It is difficult to just walk away from someone insisting you.stay (whether admin in the hospital, or armed guards outside) even. when you know they have no legal.right to detain you.

LynnCSchreiber Tue 26-Jun-12 21:23:33

I am on the plane ready to leave Kenya. I'll be back to bother you from London tomorrow.

silverfrog Tue 26-Jun-12 23:15:45

ah, the nightflight back from Kenya - I remember it well smile

LynnCSchreiber Wed 27-Jun-12 22:13:34

Arrived back home after a very long trip. Am going to bed early but will be back to writin about kenya tomorrow.

LynnCSchreiber Thu 28-Jun-12 15:02:26

Just had a great chat with two researchers who are starting a study into the suitability of providing mooncups to girls in Kisumu district. Will be writing about it later, still researching other bits of the story. Might have found a project that we could support.

She said that studies have found that around 45% of young girls said that their first sexual experiences were not consensual, and that blood on their clothes was seen by some boys/men that they were sexually mature.

Hullygully Thu 28-Jun-12 16:40:13

<salutes MMe>

<copies Hully>


Abitwobblynow Thu 28-Jun-12 19:27:42

Just to let you know, that hiding contraception happens here in Blightly, amongst the muslim and immigrant communities.

The HVs get to know the secret signals which say 'don't knock, he's here' or 'you can come in now'.


Abitwobblynow Thu 28-Jun-12 19:29:01

Good luck with the moon cups, very good idea.

LynnCSchreiber Thu 28-Jun-12 20:44:50

That is sad, Abit.

FormerlyTitledUntidy Thu 28-Jun-12 22:46:18

Mme L I have jsut read this whole thread and all your links tonight blush I think you might be my new girl crush smile
What fab work you have been doing, spreading the word.
Keep us up to date on thir brill project, very interesting smile

LynnCSchreiber Thu 28-Jun-12 23:38:42

Thank you, Formerly blush

Will keep this thread going as long as there is interest in the project.

dittany Fri 29-Jun-12 20:17:29

This is great what you did Mme Lindor.

Is there much of a women's movement in Kenya? Things have to change from within to change for women don't they?

"She said that studies have found that around 45% of young girls said that their first sexual experiences were not consensual, and that blood on their clothes was seen by some boys/men that they were sexually mature."

This is horrifying, such a massive mountain to climb.

LynnCSchreiber Fri 29-Jun-12 20:26:11

There is hope that things will change, but it is slow because you are dealing with ingrained traditional ideas.

One Nigerian woman, who was educated in the States and is writing a book about Africa told me that a lot of her friends would only use a condom till the 3rd date, cause the men would not accept it afterwards. And these are educated, privileged women.

Irin Carmon was on the trip and investigated the scandal of women being imprisoned after giving birth if they cannot pay the hospital bills. This has been reported before, but it is still going on.

Prolesworth Sat 30-Jun-12 01:25:16

This is brilliant - good work MmeL! Looking forward to reading all the links and catching up with the campaign so far.

dittany Sat 30-Jun-12 08:35:08

That's the problem isn't it? Education and privilege don't protect women in the face of male hatred and male supremacy. So the men can feel fit to abuse the women as they want - expose them to pregnancy in this case.

The number of rapists in Kenya must be astronomical. They basically seem to be punishing their victims through maternity services too. You can't help but realise that at least some of these men who think it's OK to rape almost half of young girls in Kenya, will be involved in giving pregnant women medical care or running hospitals.

LynnCSchreiber Sat 30-Jun-12 09:45:54

We spoke to a senior official from the Kenyan Ministry of Health and I asked about rape, and sexual abuse - whether the perpetrators are brought before the courts.

"We passed the Sexual Offences Act in 2008, but it has not yet been implemented".

Enough said.

FrothyDragon Sat 30-Jun-12 10:06:05

Four years on and they haven't implemented it? shock

It really shows, doesn't it. Women are a sub sex in the eyes of lawmakers. sad

LynnCSchreiber Sat 30-Jun-12 10:25:36

One of the saddest things I heard in Kenya, was a woman talking about babies and children getting sick - "simple" illnesses like D&V are not simple in Africa.

"they shout to us in the evening and by the morning they are not there".

Am writing about a water project today, where women pool their resources to buy water tanks, giving them clean and healthy drinking water.

Beachcomber Sun 01-Jul-12 07:49:28

Marking place and adding my support. Will read info and links properly later.

Good work MmeLindor.

LynnCSchreiber Sun 01-Jul-12 09:21:27

Thanks, Beachcomber.

BIWItheBold Sun 01-Jul-12 09:33:44

Can I join in with the general adulation, Mme? grin
Much of this is just so shock. It's hard to believe.
Very good job being done. And isn't it heartening to see the Gates using their money in this way - c.f. with the Barclays/UK bankers 'cesspit' that is happening here?

LynnCSchreiber Sun 01-Jul-12 09:42:18

That is true, BIWI.

The representative from the Gates Foundation who was with us on the trip is a fantastic woman, very inspiring and knowledgeable about women's rights.

TheLightPassenger Sun 01-Jul-12 10:36:11

well done for highlighting these massively important issues Mme. Will check out the various links shortly.

OracleInLeCoracle Sun 01-Jul-12 15:48:25

mme, you are doing an excellent job!

LynnCSchreiber Sun 01-Jul-12 20:28:55

Thanks all. Am so glad that people are reading and listening.

Himalaya Mon 02-Jul-12 07:53:20

The mooncup thing sounds like a good idea, and something mooncupnet Mumsnet ought to support, given how many women get 'sold' onto mooncups on here.

It would be a good candidate for a trial to investigate whether girls continue to use it long-term (interesting trial you linked to Mme Lindor but quite small scale and no follow up...)

My guess is mooncups cost about 50p to make, but all the expense is in marketing to get people to give them a try.

Maybe they could be marketed by women entrepreneurs - Avon lady style?

I guess it wouldn't help with the problems for girls first starting their periods, as it's pretty daunting to use a mooncup the first time, particularly in a culture that doesn't talk openly about menstruation.

Mme Lindor - is there an org that is taking forward the mooncup solution, since that study?

GetOrfMoiiLand Mon 02-Jul-12 13:00:50

It is wonderful that you have been involved in this mme - such important issues. I have just looked through all the links.

Those girls being so chuffed with supermarket knickers and sanpro.

Well done for raising awareness like this.

LynnCSchreiber Mon 02-Jul-12 13:07:08

Yes, there is himalaya.

I will be writing this week about a further research project and the rubycup - a kenya based project that is very similar to your Avon lady idea. wink

Himalaya Mon 02-Jul-12 14:09:43

That's great, I just looked it up!

SweetTheSting Mon 02-Jul-12 22:35:18

Great work Mme.

I will look to add a sanpro charity to my donations, I will look through your links for a recommendation.

LynnCSchreiber Mon 02-Jul-12 23:55:21

I am going to be investigating this a bit more this week when I finish the article so hopefully will be able to recommend a charity. If you find one in the meantime, do let me know.

AbigailAdams Tue 03-Jul-12 10:39:25

ML I was watching a Twitter conversation about abortion rights last week (it was actually about NI abortion laws) but they touched on the fact that the Gates Foundation aren't including abortion services in this project. I realise that you aren't their spokesperson but do you know why that is? Has it been discussed at all? It seems a vital service to miss out that's all.

Also how did you get involved with this? <slightly jealous emoticon>

LynnCSchreiber Tue 03-Jul-12 12:01:45

It is something that has been discussed. I can't speak for the Gates foundation but my feeling is by concentrating on family planning there is more chance of getting somewhere in countries where abortion is limited or even illegal.

Improving access to family planning has been proven to lower abortion rates. Considering that many are done in unsafe conditions, this is very important.

Did you know that after Bush reintroduced the global gag rule that abortion rates eent up? And that more women died because of it.

The women we talked to were terrified that Romney might win the presidency.

'we don't sleep at night', one woman told me.

post about a women's collective that buys water tanks - might interest you lot.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Tue 03-Jul-12 12:32:32

Ooh, what a great thread and a brilliant thing to be doing MmeLindor
- will have to check out all the links on here and find out more about what you're all up to over there.

Gates foundation work on improving access to contraception seems like great stuff !

AbigailAdams Tue 03-Jul-12 12:38:44

That certainly makes sense. I had no idea about the global gag rule increasing women's deaths.

I think we are all hoping Romney doesn't get in!

And thanks for the link.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Tue 03-Jul-12 12:59:38

Someone explain to me about Bush's "global gag rule"?
What's going on with that ?

AbigailAdams Tue 03-Jul-12 13:28:18

Juggling this article may help Obama repeals global gag rule

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Tue 03-Jul-12 13:39:41

Interesting, thanks Abigail - I think, from what I understand, Obama again has it about right on this. ( "Repeals global gag rule - very quietly" - to me there is much that could be done to promote and increase access to contraceptives - I feel there could be a lot of good done under the "No controversy in contraceptives" initiative)

LynnCSchreiber Tue 03-Jul-12 17:35:31

I'm out at the moment but will link to some articles about the global gag rule Obama.

There has been a lot of criticism of Obama for not going further with this.

LynnCSchreiber Thu 05-Jul-12 18:37:20

Brilliant article by Irin Carmon about abortion in Africa and how the US anti-choice / pro-choice camps fought a proxy war in Kenya.

AbigailAdams Thu 05-Jul-12 18:43:57

Illegal abortion accounts for 30-40% of maternal deaths. Wow. So preventable.

LynnCSchreiber Thu 05-Jul-12 18:49:07

Very sad statistic. And the reason it is so vital to enable women to access contraception. It truly saves lives.

SweetTheSting Fri 06-Jul-12 09:22:18

Oh my god, I never knew about the global gag rule. So the Republicans didn't have the political guts to repeal US abortion laws (as they knew they would lose!) so just thought they would help prevent less powerful countries getting any such rights.


<goes off to kick a wall>

LynnCSchreiber Fri 06-Jul-12 12:12:05

And the effects were felt by millions of women around the world.

I wanted to find an article to explain the issues with Obama. Will go and look

LynnCSchreiber Fri 06-Jul-12 12:21:33

Many activists have called for Obama to go a step further and repeal the Helms Amendment -

'The ban on foreign aid for abortion is based on the government’s interpretation of the Helms Amendment, adopted in 1973. The Helms Amendment states “No foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.”'

Info here

SweetTheSting Fri 06-Jul-12 12:36:01

Method of family planning? What a poisonous little phrase. Like it would be anyone's preferred choice of planning.

<kicks wall with other foot>

SweetTheSting Fri 06-Jul-12 13:02:13

I really hope Obama is just hanging out for a second term and is then finally going to get his liberal trousers on...

LynnCSchreiber Fri 06-Jul-12 13:05:21

There is a bit of frustration aimed at him for not ensuring that the gag rule cannot be put back in place even if a GOP candidate wins.

LynnCSchreiber Mon 09-Jul-12 12:11:21

Bump for those interested in the Family Planning Summit and today's webchat with Sec of State for International Development

SweetTheSting Mon 09-Jul-12 14:42:52


LynnCSchreiber Mon 09-Jul-12 15:01:54

Last blog post before the summit

The Andrew Mitchell webchat in case you missed it.

Melinda Gates on BBC4 Today. At 2.35 hr

Wendy Wright, from Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute said:

"we know what empowers women and lifts children and women out of poverty. It is schooling and jobs. We know what reduces maternal mortality, it is skilled birth attendants and pre-natal care and infrastructure like roads so that women can get to clinics, and cell phones so that birth attendants can get to the women.

Contraception programmes don't provide any of the known items that will lift women and communities out of poverty and empower women.

The Gates approach will divert funding away from programmes that work".

Which shows how the religious right are trying to hijack this issue, including telling outright lies about how contraception helps women.

They completely ignored the fact that limiting contraception increased abortion, many of them unsafe and dangerous abortion and raised maternal mortality.

SweetTheSting Mon 09-Jul-12 15:27:59

Yeah, surely maternal mortality is reduced by not going through pregnancy so often?!

At least Wendy should be honest if she thinks that's a price that needs to be paid not to block 'God's will' re children. Not pretend it is no issue at all.

LynnCSchreiber Mon 09-Jul-12 17:11:28


Especially when we KNOW that more women died as a result of the reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule by Bush.

It is disingenuous to ignore that and argue that contraception would not save lives.

timetosmile Mon 09-Jul-12 19:06:57

Hi Mme

Just want to say thankyou for raising these issues to the wider MN community. thanks

DH has worked for several short periods in Kenya in both government and charity run hospitals, and has been known to bang his head repeatedly against the wall about the funding/ charging system in the government hospitals.

It may be that the (wealthy) private healthcare providers work so hand-in-glove with the government that there is no 'advantage' to the government in improving access-for-all in the state hospital sector.

I've also worked in reproductive health in subsaharan Africa and learned to do a tubal ligation through the teeniest 'secret' incision if the women ask!!

The downside of concealed contraception is that some of the women get taken to traditional healers whose remedies are not always beneficial.....I have heard of petrol or methylated spirit 'douches' to 'clean' the woman for future pregnancies sad

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Mon 09-Jul-12 22:46:22

I don't know how Wendy Wright can say what she did - I hope she gave it some careful thought, and gives further thought to anything else she chooses to say on the subject. I've thought for a long time that all the churches should stop confusing contraception and abortion. To me, if they are against abortion they should promote contraception all the more strongly. I feel the church is very confused though, and it will be a long time I fear before they fully get behind anything relating to sex - such as contraception and family planning.

LynnCSchreiber Mon 09-Jul-12 23:04:57

That is interesting, TimeToSmile. And horrifying. It is a fine line they walk, these women, as if they use contraceptives they risk being ostracised in the community.

I met a Kenyan woman at the weekend who told me that her gardener has 13 kids with 3 different women. When his second wife had the contraceptive implant inserted, he went out and found a third wife. They have told the man that if he has any more children, they will fire him - to protect the women and to help his family. They are funding the school for the children.

My blog post today was featured on the Gates Foundation blog.

LynnCSchreiber Mon 09-Jul-12 23:13:14

I recently read the excellent book The Means of Reproduction by Michelle Goldberg. If you haven't read it, I would urge you to do so. She explains in great detail the ways in which both the RC church and the evangelical Christians have tried to manipulate the debate.

The Kenyan Constitution was all but hijacked by those on both sides of the argument, particularly the American anti-choice movement, as they fought battles that they cannot win in US. I linked to a great article by Irin Carmon earlier in this thread.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Tue 10-Jul-12 08:42:27

Thanks MmeLindor - I'm quite excited to have a personal post all the way from Kenya this morning - and on such a cool and important subject !
Thanks for being there to represent us all ! (if that's something you feel happy to be doing ?)
Will look out for that book smile

LynnCSchreiber Tue 10-Jul-12 09:01:14

Am honoured to "represent" the MNetters - and if you have anything you wish me to raise at the summit, do let me know.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Tue 10-Jul-12 09:20:09

Oh, I guess you're back in London now MmeLindor ready for the summit tomorrow ? - have just read yesterday's webchat with Andrew Mitchell (international development minister - all good I thought) as well as catching up with more of this thread.
There's so much here it's hard for me to keep up with it all - but it's all fab !
Hope tomorrow goes well for everyone's sake x

LynnCSchreiber Tue 10-Jul-12 09:23:51

Am flying down today. The summit looks to be very interesting - I will update the summit thread as it develops

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Tue 10-Jul-12 09:26:55

I think my question would be "How can we encourage different faith groups and churches around the world to be more positive about contraception and family planning ?"

I think it's very frustrating to see the churches and other faith groups not embracing and promoting something which can be such a force for good around the world - with the potential to change the lives of women and children so much for the better.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Tue 10-Jul-12 09:28:55

Oh, I hope you have a good journey Mme Lindor smile

So, where are you just now ?

< struggles slightly to keep up grin >

LynnCSchreiber Tue 10-Jul-12 12:18:12

Good question. Will have a look and see if there are any church representatives there and ask them a bit about that.

I am currently in Scotland (where I live), waiting at airport on my flight to London later this afternoon.

timetosmile Tue 10-Jul-12 12:34:16

I don't know if you are in contact with these lovely people, Mme?

UK based, but decades of hands-on developing world experience between them, and a useful place to network..

LynnCSchreiber Tue 10-Jul-12 12:43:48

Thanks TimetoSmile. I am not, but will have a look and follow them on Twitter.

Dfid just tweeted this story which may be interesting for those who were on the webchat yesterday. Comic Relief and UK Aid funding a peer counselling project to help young girls escape teen pregnancy and marriage.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Tue 10-Jul-12 13:37:48

Lovely to think you might raise my query with someone at the summit MmeLindor - if the opportunity arises smile Thanks !

LynnCSchreiber Tue 10-Jul-12 23:45:36

By incredible coincidence, I happened to meet a couple of guys who work in faith based initiatives, so am hoping to have the chance to talk to them some more tomorrow.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Wed 11-Jul-12 07:33:05

Great ! I think there could be some good potential for faith groups to make some good progress in their thinking on contraception and family planning, and become much more pro-active on this. Especially those denominations that are already OK with it - just lots of room for them to be much more than tolerant of contraception as often at present. Good luck with your encounters today !

LynnCSchreiber Wed 11-Jul-12 09:22:06
abbeynationall Wed 11-Jul-12 17:45:32

Mnetter here in Kenya complete with the mooncup badge. Couldn't read and run even with my uberslow internet connection. Welldone for highlighting the plight of women in Kenya OP if you need any info just pm me .... I have to go now my three year old is begging to go to bed whose ever seen that . By the way I'm MNettinng in my mums' mud hut in a village in the back of beyond .Do excuse the grammar and the spelling

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Thu 12-Jul-12 10:18:50

Awesome abbey - I can just imagine you MNetting from Africa !

Hi Abbey! Well done for spreading the mooncup message. What an amazing thread!

LynnCSchreiber Thu 12-Jul-12 20:15:51

How cool, Abbey. Glad to have you posting on this thread. I will PM you, cause I am hoping to write more about the issues facing Kenyan women. Great to have a local voice.

Thanks to all who have taken part in this campaign and have helped to spread the word. I will link up to the other blogs on the other thread.

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