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In the first issue of the New Year, Connect offers a glimpse into research that EngenderHealth is leading as part of our approach to transforming the health and ensuring the rights of women living with fistula, a devastating but treatable condition. Also read about:

  • New steps by the global community to advance maternal health
  • Failure by Congress to pass bills protecting women and young girls
  • Policy updates on the constitutionality of the “antiprostitution pledge”
  • New publications and resources
  • Career opportunities


Global Perspectives

Global Perspectives


We not only met, but exceeded, our year-end Challenge Campaign goal, with more than 270 supporters contributing over $84,000 online. Through their generosity, we received an additional $45,000 in matching funds for our important work in 27 countries.

Q&A with Evelyn Landry: Improving Knowledge and Practice through Fistula Research
EngenderHealth is leading several research initiatives to explore ways to improve treatment and care for women living with fistula. In a brief interview, Evelyn Landry, Deputy Director of EngenderHealth’s Fistula Care, discusses these projects and their potential impact in improving fistula care and treatment. Read more.

Global Strategy for Women and Children Yields New Developments
Last month, the international community took two new steps to advance maternal and child health, building on momentum from the September 2010 Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health:

  • On December 8, a diverse coalition of health organizations, including EngenderHealth, signed a letter (PDF, 70KB) asking the Board of the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria to broaden its portfolio to include maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH). In response, the Board issued a Decision Point memo (PDF, 47KB) encouraging countries to strengthen the MNCH content of their Global Fund investments and asking the Secretariat to develop clear guidance on doing so. The Board also acknowledged the need to define longer term strategies for increasing MNCH engagement. The Maternal Health Task Force offered its perspective on the Decision Point in a December 15 blog article.
  • The United Nations established a new high-level commission (PDF, 98KB) designed to improve accountability by tracking investments in maternal and child health and measuring the results they are meant to achieve.


Policy Updates

Child Marriage Prevention Bill Falls Short

The U.S. House of Representatives last month blocked legislation that would have made the prevention of child marriage a core element of U.S. international development policy. The International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2010 (S.987) was designed to protect the rights of young girls and prevent early pregnancy, which often results in miscarriage, obstetric fistula, or death. The bill had garnered a consensus vote of support in the Senate, but only achieved a 241–166 majority in the House, which was insufficient to pass the legislation while House rules are suspended, when a two-thirds majority is required. News reports point to a memo circulated by opponents of the bill prior to the vote, warning that the legislation could be used to fund abortion. “Those who voted to continue this barbaric practice brought shame to Capitol Hill,” said Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) in a December 16 statement. “These young girls, enslaved in marriage, will be brutalized and many will die when their young bodies are torn apart while giving birth.”

Congress Fails to Pass Bill Protecting Women from Violence
The U.S. Congress last month failed to approve the International Violence Against Women Act (S.2982), a landmark bill that would have made the prevention of violence against women a priority in U.S. development and diplomacy. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee completed its markup of the bill and placed it on the legislative calendar, but the bill did not make it to either the full House or the Senate for a vote before Congress adjourned on January 4. The legislation had called for a comprehensive strategy to protect women against violence and hold perpetrators responsible. It also required the U.S. Department of Defense to include violence prevention and response in its routine training.

Court Assesses Constitutionality of Bush-Era “Antiprostitution Pledge"
The Second Circuit Court in New York heard new oral arguments on the constitutionality of a 2003 federal regulation known as the “antiprostitution pledge.” The regulation required all recipients of federal AIDS funding to pledge that the money would not be used to assist “any group or organization that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking” (22 U.S.C. Sec. 7621[f]). The Alliance for Open Society International filed the initial lawsuit (PDF, 837KB) in 2005, achieving a preliminary injunction (PDF, 3717KB) in 2006 that prevented the government from requiring organizations to sign the pledge. The latest arguments took place December 9 to assess the constitutionality of President Obama’s interpretation (PDF, 32KB) of the regulation. Read an account of the oral arguments.


New Publications and Resources <empty>

Global Perspectives

Please join us...

On January 12, the Maternal Health Task Force will host a brown-bag event, “War and peace: The story of maternal mortality estimation,” featuring Professor Wendy J. Graham from the University of Aberdeen. The event will take place at EngenderHealth’s New York office (noon to 1:30 pm). Please RSVP to Marisa Westheimer.

EngenderHealth President Pamela Barnes authored a December 8 blog article on RHRealityCheck.org: “Lest We Forget the 33 Million…
Women Deliver included EngenderHealth President Pamela Barnes’s September 20 Huffington Post op-ed in its Top 10 Maternal Health Highlights in 2010.

San Francisco-based philanthropy group Vivanista named EngenderHealth as its Cause of the Week December 13-17.

Ugandan news site “New Vision” showcased EngenderHealth’s Fistula Care project in a December 6 article: “Uganda: 250,000 Women Receive Free Fistula Treatment.”


New Publications and Resources <empty>

EngenderHealth’s Joseph Ruminjo and Evelyn Landry coauthored a study in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth on current fistula care practices that could lead to the design of prospective and randomized controlled trials.

EngenderHealth is a member and local partner of The Male Circumcision Consortium, which published its December 2010 e-newsletter (PDF, 92KB) about male circumcision for HIV prevention in Kenya.


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