Sep 152010

As we have already highlighted several times on the Feminist Peace Network blog, maternal health care in the aftermath of the Pakistani flooding is a huge concern with estimates of some 500,000 pregnant women being impacted by the disaster.  However, the wording in this article is disturbing:

(Dr Nighat) Shah, (secretary-general of the Society of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, Pakistan (SOGP)) says that at the very least, with many of the camps now being visited by health professionals, women there are benefiting from reproductive-health information that they would have otherwise missed. This, says the doctor, may help the women break free from what she calls the “death trap” of frequent pregnancies.

Now, says Shah, “We can provide them the much-needed family planning services”.

(Dr. Azra) Ahsan (of the National Committee for Maternal Neonatal and Child Health (NCMNH))  herself notes that with only 22 percent of married Pakistani women using a modern family-planning method, this may be an “opportune time” to introduce the intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) to the women in the camps.

She does not think pills would be a successful intervention, reasoning, “They will either forget to take it, or when the dose finishes they may discontinue (taking it).”

Shah favours tubal ligation for those who already have more than three or four children. She even suggests offering counseling to women who come to deliver their babies at hospitals, and encouraging them to opt for ligation after their family is “complete”.

“When they return home,” says Shah, “their lives will hopefully be better off if such interventions are made.”

So because these women’s lives have been decimated by flooding, sterilization should be suggested?  Aside from that smacking of sounding like population control, not maternal health care, many of these women have been displaced, their homes destroyed, they are living in refugee camps in very difficult conditions and it is being suggested that in addition to recovering from childbirth they are being asked to consider undergoing and recovering from elective surgery?  The implications of this report are disturbing and should be investigated.

 September 15, 2010  Posted by on September 15, 2010 1 Response »
Sep 142010

As we’ve pointed out many times on this blog, there are women-specific impacts of environmental disasters.  Given the enormity of the Pakistan flooding, those impacts are particularly stark.  Via MADRE,

That the overwhelming impact of the floods on Pakistani women is largely invisible in the media, however, is no claim to its nonexistence. So far,  According to the Reproductive Health Response in Crises Consortium (RHRC), 85 percent of those displaced by the flood are women and children. In the aftermath of the floods, Pakistani women and children continue to face monumental hardships in an already conservative society. Overcrowding and flimsy tents force women and girls to bathe and sleep in close proximity to unrelated males. For women who have lost sons and husbands in the floods, they are offered little protection under conditions that already constrain women’s freedoms.

An added element to the hardships Pakistani women are now facing? An estimated 500,000 pregnant women are currently in their second or third trimesters. Of these, 100,000 women are due to give birth in the next month – most of them in crowded shelters unfit for childbirth, not far from stagnant and disease-ridden waters. As UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan Martin Mogwanja aptly stated, “This disaster has affected almost 18 million people. We don’t want it to also affect half a million babies who are not born yet”.

While we don’t usually post information multiple times, because of the severity of the situation, here again are links to some of the  organizations working in Pakistan or doing resource mobilization to support relief efforts there with particular sensitivity to women-specific needs:

 September 14, 2010  Posted by on September 14, 2010 Comments Off on In Pakistan 85% Of Those Displaced By Flooding Are Women, Including 500,000 Pregnant Women
Sep 132010

The other day I got in a discussion with Dean Brooks at Iglou Internet, where our website is now hosted, about archiving intellectual property on the web, and he pointed me to a website called which has a wonderful feature called The Wayback Machine (you know where that’s from, or not :-), which led me to this screenshot of FPN’s pre-blog website from 2004:

While the FPN website is still not a technological wonder, it was fun to see just how much has changed since the early days!

 September 13, 2010  Posted by on September 13, 2010 1 Response »
Sep 082010

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 which provides a,

legal and political framework that acknowledges the importance of the participation of women and the inclusion of gender perspectives in peace negotiations, humanitarian planning, peacekeeping operations, post-conflict peacebuilding and governance.

Key provisions of 1325 include:

  • Increased participation and representation of women at all levels of decision-making.
  • Attention to specific protection needs of women and girls in conflict.
  • Gender perspective in post-conflict processes.
  • Gender perspective in UN programming, reporting and in SC missions.
  • Gender perspective & training in UN peace support operations.

On September 21, I’ll be giving a presentation titled, Towards a Women-Inclusive Peace:  Why 1325 is the Crucial Number at Mount Mary College in Milwaukee, WI at their International Day of Peace celebration, co-sponsored by  the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

I’m very excited to be speaking about 1325, which is something I regularly address when talking about the impact that militarism has on women’s lives.  It is particularly timely now that we’ve officially declared an end to combat missions in Iraq. But just saying it’s over doesn’t make it over if you are a widow without any substantive means of support or of you are a mother living as a refugee in Syria or Jordan forced to prostitute yourself to feed your children.  These examples point to why it is so important to consider the needs and listen to the voices of women when resolving conflict.

I’ll post the text and slides from the presentation after the event but in the meantime, here are some links for learning more about 1325.

If your school or organization would be interested in a presentation about how militarism impacts women’s lives and this very important resolution, please contact me at lucindamarshall @

 September 8, 2010  Posted by on September 8, 2010 Comments Off on What’s In A Number–UN Resolution 1325 10 Years On And Why It Matters
Sep 072010

The following statement and information about ways to help women in Pakistan is reprinted with kind permission.  Please note that both of these statements can also be viewed in French and Spanish on the AWID site.

The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) is gravely concerned by the tremendous losses of life and livelihoods and ongoing humanitarian crisis triggered by the worst floods in Pakistan’s history.

We stand in solidarity with all the women, men and children of Pakistan during this difficult time. In particular, we send a message of solidarity to the women of Pakistan, who for many years have contributed to upholding the struggle for peace and democracy throughout the country, and who continue to struggle for survival in the face of this unprecedented crisis.

  • Please donate now to help Urgent Action Fund support women’s organizations in Pakistan (see below for more information on UAF’s work)
  • Whilst the flooding has had a devastating impact on everyone in Pakistan with an estimated twenty million people displaced, and one-fifth of the country underwater, women are particularly affected. Due to gender norms that marginalize them, women and girls are more likely to fall through the gaps of emergency relief and reconstruction processes. They are often denied access to the provision of food relief and reproductive health services, while female-headed households, pregnant women and those with infants are particularly at risk. In post-disaster situations women also face an increased threat of violence, including sexual violence.

    Many of the flood-affected areas of Pakistan have spent years in conflict marked by rising religious fundamentalisms. Reports from the ground indicate that fundamentalist groups are mobilizing aid and providing relief services in areas unreachable by the government with potentially dangerous implications for women’s rights. While it is clear that the scope of the current crisis is beyond the capacity of the Pakistani government to address and that fundamentalist organizations are attempting to fill this gap, there are many other groups engaged in fundraising and delivering emergency relief on the ground who are working from a human rights perspective and whose efforts require vital support (please see a short list below). Pakistani women’s organizations are also reporting that women and children are missing in significant numbers, which could mean they have been kidnapped. Women in the rural areas of Pakistan are among the most disadvantaged with particular difficulties in accessing relief and reconstruction support.

    Despite these challenges, women have a vital role to play in the reconstruction of Pakistan. Women hold valuable skills and knowledge on community mobilization, coping strategies and local resources. In their roles as economic actors, as caregivers and as leaders, they are essential to rebuilding a just and inclusive Pakistan. As supporters and facilitators of Pakistani women’s participation in the reconstruction process, Pakistani women’s organizations must also be central actors to efforts on the ground.

    AWID therefore calls upon the government of Pakistan and the international community to take immediate action to ensure that the very much-needed aid is committed and actually delivered in a timely and effective fashion. Also, the well-being of women and girls has to be ensured through the provision of both emergency relief and significant longer-term support for reconstruction and development that responds to the gender-specific needs and circumstances of Pakistani women and girls. In particular, we call for the full participation of women at all levels of reconstruction and for sustained efforts to be centered on the long-term development needs of women and girls and the promotion and protection of their human rights.

    Links to some of the women’s organizations working in Pakistan or doing resource mobilization to support relief efforts there:


    Additional information about Shirkat Gah and the Urgent Action Fund:

    In Pakistan, grassroots women’s groups have stepped into leadership roles to ensure that women are safe and secure, that women’s needs are met and their voices are heard, and that aid is distributed effectively and equitably. Last week, UAF funded a request from Grassroots in Action (GIA) in Peshawar. GIA observed that in natural disaster situations, women and children do not have the same access to humanitarian aid as men do…Please donate now to help UAF support women’s organizations in Pakistan.

    Women and girls “are also at risk of sexual violence — already reports are emerging of rape and kidnapping, as criminals and human traffickers take advantage of the chaos caused by the floods. And, GIA pointed out, when mass-anxiety and insecurity reign, age-old patriarchal values and behavior can gain a stronger foothold.

    GIA proposed to train 230 community-based organizations in three flood districts on the gender dimensions of the disaster and how to overcome them. Once trained, these organizations will coordinate their flood responses and ensure the needs of women and children are met, document women’s human rights violations and make recommendations for addressing them, and advocate for women’s needs to national and international NGOs throughout the rehabilitation process.

    Your dollars can go a long way in Pakistan. You have the power to chose where you send your money. Please give to UAF so we can support the grassroots organizations that are meeting the real needs of women and children in this crisis.

    Blue Veins, another Pakistani women’s organization, also received UAF support last week. Despite reports of trafficking, kidnapping, abuse, and sexual violence in the flood-affected areas of the Northwest Frontier Province, the government and aid agencies are focusing solely on providing food and shelter, and are not prioritizing the protection of women. Blue Veins proposed to establish 100 Multi-Purpose Committees of women in 100 flood affected areas and Internally Displaced People Camps. The Committees will train women about their rights and how to prevent further violence, report incidents of gender violence, and advocate for women with government and aid agencies.

    Please donate now to help UAF support women’s organizations in Pakistan.

    Shirkat Gah, a women’s resource center with offices around the country, is sending out field teams to assess the needs of communities in all four provinces. They are focusing on women and children, and collaborating with partner NGO’s to deliver the necessary aid. UAF made an alliance grant to Shirkat Gah last week.

    • In Londa village, where nearly all the infrastructure has been destroyed, the field team found out that women had not been able to obtain medical assistance or food during official distributions. Shirkat Gah distributed food and organized two medical camps for women.
    • In Shahdadkot, Shirkat Gah interviewed people who were camped on the banks of rivers and canals. The displaced people said they did not need food right now, but prioritized medical aid, especially for pregnant women. Shirkat Gah worked with partner organizations to organize a mobile medical station to move along the canals, with a female doctor.
    • Shirkat Gah is attending official meetings with the United Nations and the President of Pakistan, to voice women’s needs and concerns. These include the fact that banned militant groups are providing food and shelter in areas the government and NGOs have not been able to reach, and that the number of missing women and children is increasing.

    Basic supplies are of utmost importance. One of our advisors told us that many young girls have stopped moving around at all because they have no sanitary pads and they are ashamed of the blood staining their clothes. This makes it difficult for women and girls to access other necessities such as food and medical aid. Most of the relief packages do not contain sanitary napkins because of the taboo & shame associated with them.

    If you wish to donate directly to Shirkat Gah’s women-focused humanitarian aid effort, click here.”

    For further information and to donate, please visit UAF.

     September 7, 2010  Posted by on September 7, 2010 Comments Off on Statement On Pakistan From The Association For Women’s Rights In Development (AWID)