Friday, March 12, 2010

Women and Girls at the United Nations

The 54th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations winds up this week. The theme of the conference this year is supposed to be an examination of the Millenium Development Goals as well as a review of the Beijing Conference on Women, but apparently the conference has concerned itself largely with matters of maternal mortality and the role of women at the UN.

The maternal mortality issue at the UN often becomes a way to promote abortion, with feminist groups advancing the (specious) argument that women, especially in Third World countries, die in childbirth because they don't have access to legal abortions. In actuality, women from these countries report that what they need is potable water, better sanitation, more medical facilities and the means to travel to those facilities, not more access to abortion. The CSW conference, like most of what goes on at the UN, appears innocent enough on the surface, but scratch around a bit and deception and spin abound.

I've been following some of the reports from the conference through the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, C-Fam. Their report about the Girl Scouts is particularly disheartening. C-Fam reports that the Girl Scouts hosted a side event at the conference where they distributed the International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF) brochure called 'Healthy, Happy and Hot.' Take a look at it here.

The brochure is directed at youth and seems to be mostly about living with HIV/Aids (as if every young person is plagued by the disease?), but the IPPF also sees fit to include pretty explicit instructions on how young people can enjoy sex. In addition, they have a direct message to young people on how to keep parents out of the picture in areas having nothing to do with HIV/Aids.

Many communities have centres that offer youth-friendly health services. These are places where you can access information and health services to help you take care of your sexual health, like STI tests and advice on condoms and contraceptives. They often have hours that are convenient for young people, and staff who understand young people,will not judge you and will treat you with respect. You should find out whether there any centres near to you where you can go without needing the permission of your parents or guardians.
To those readers who support the work of Planned Parenthood, consider if you would whether the organization's stated goal of being "a leading advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all" should include advising young people on how to have sex and how to keep their parents out of the picture. Planned Parenthood and its parent organization, IPPF, have ignominious roots anyway with eugenicist Margaret Sanger (and here and here) as their inspiration. But, even ignoring that, how do women and mothers rationalize Planned Parenthood's world-wide promotion of abortion (under the euphemism of 'reproductive rights') and their indoctrination of young people about sex and their supposed sexual 'rights.'

Last year I had the privilege of attending the CSW conference, which included going to a side event where I sat next to a group of Girl Scouts in attendance as part of the audience. One of the girls, clearly intent on being assertive and engaging as a professional female should be, introduced herself to me and shook my hand. As the workshop unfolded and we heard about every form of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-gender problem around the world, I couldn't help but wonder if these obviously eager and well-mannered teen-age girls from the mid-West knew what they were getting into.

This year I had the pleasure of hearing about the CSW conference from a group of students from Christendom College who, with C-Fam, have been working at the conference this year to support family and the dignity of life, something sorely needed at the United Nations.

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