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Monday, February 26, 2007

Birthday Greetings...

Sensya na po late post... but just the same, we hope you had a very

happy birthday!!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

DepEd takes a stand on ARH...

"Sex Education is better left to the parents. Sex education is the sole right and responsibility of the parents and no excuse or alibi can justify the public teaching of sex by strangers." These are just some of the views expressed by the hierarchy of the religious and some pro-life groups on the ARH programs and projects of Dep Ed . They further claim that teaching students about reproductive health will make the youth sexually adventurous especially if they are taught about condoms and other forms of contraception thus prmoting safe sex. Others have suggested to teach Moral Values intensively instead of sex education. It was likewise strongly suggested that a nationwide consultation and involvement of stakeholders in the review and validation be done.

With these opposing views, DepEd found itself in an uncanny predicament.

To the varying concerns aired by both sides on the matter of ARH Education, the Department of Education considered the following:

  • In various fora, DepEd representatives made it clear to the public that "Sex Education is not offered as a subject in the secondary curriculum. There are only Lesson Guides on ARH that are integrated in the different learning areas which actually promote healthier and responsible behaviour among the target groups of young people."

  • Filipino youth and adolescents need sound and accurate information on sexual and reproductive health, to protect them from teen pregnancy, early marriages, gender-based violence, risky social and sexual behaviors, sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS. They also need life skills to help them developm self-confidence, self-esteem and deal with a fast changing and complex environment.

  • DepEd accedes to the fact that parents must be responsible for their children's education about their reproductive health and rights. But this is not enough, for various reasons. providing the youth with sound and accurate information on reproductive health and rights is a joint undertaking by parents, school and community. Besides, many parents feel inadequate to communicate with their children about sex. They are concerned but unprepared for intervention. On the other hand, children are often reluctant or too embarrassed to approach parents with the topic and therefore have turned, particularly in more recent times, to more formal sources of sexual health education such as school-based lessons. (Impact of HIV and Sexual Health Ed on the Sexual behaviour of Young peole: A Review Update, Anne Grunseit, UNAIDS, 1997)

  • Reproductive and Sexual Health Education and Life Skills Building do not lead to promiscuity among the youth. On the contrary, it promotes health and responsible sexual and social behavior. Denying Filipino adolescents and young people access to sound and accurate information regarding their reproductive health as well as ASRH services may actually increase the number of unsafe abortions, unwanted pregnancies, STI and HIV/AIDS infection. (Effective Sex Education, Advocates for Youth, USA; YAFS III findings).

  • Despite the institutionalization of the PopED Program (1994-1999) through the UNFPA 4th Country Programme, young people continue to experience future and life threatening conditionslike the following (YAFS III findings)

  1. There are twice as many female youth (71.7%) as males (35.7%) reported to having experienced RH problems;

  2. 23% of young people have had pre-marital sex (PMS)

  3. Increasing rates of teen age pregnancies and early unprotected sex (18% in 1994, 23% in 2002)

  4. High incidence of induced abortion (16 per 100 pregnancies)

  5. Increasing number of youth without adequate knowledge about the means to avoid pregnancy and STDs.

These alarming incidence of ARH problems have prompted DedEd to focus and strengthen its efforts in developing educational programs especially meant for adolescents where enormous and radical changes take place, and which changes demand attention.

In view of the above discussions, the Department of Education takes a stand on pursuing the implementation of the ARH programs and projects integrating and strengthening reproductive health-related concerns into its formal and alternative learning system curricula. This move is aligned with two (2) international commitments made by the Philippines which were documented in the International Conference on Population Development (ICPD) Program of Action and the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS). Such commitment is stipulated in the Country Program Action Plan for 2005-2009 as Millenium Development Goals (MDG) #2 - Education and #4 Child Health.

**culled from the position paper by the Department of Education on Mainstreaming Adolescent Reproductive Health in the School Curricula

** photos taken during a signature campaign calling for the inclusion of ARH in the HS Curriculum during the World Population Day 2006 celebration with the theme: "Pinoy Youth Empowerment for Health and Development"

Friday, February 02, 2007

NFP, Informed Choice and Women's Rights

Dreaming about a Filipino Women's Vote
(culled from karol ruiz-austria's blog)

Natural Family Planning is safe and if done properly, can be effective. But the method isn't for everyone, just as the pill is not the choice of all women (although the National Health Demographic Survey of 2003 still reflects it is THE most popular modern method). Condom use in the age of HIV AIDS and STDs should be more common but in the Philippines, condom use is one of the lowest in the world.

At the National Population Congress last December 6, 2006, the Department of Health and POPCOM dropped what actually is a bombshell: a movement to promote NFP to the exclusion of other methods, instead of giving Filipinos the benefit of making their own informed choices. In proposing to focus all of its programs and efforts (and as a result most of their budget!) into "Natural Family Planning," the Department of Health and the Population Commission say they mean to address:

"-Women's fear of side effects and other health reasons

-Husband’s objection -Culture, tradition, and religious beliefs

-Availability, accessibility, and affordability of FP services"

At this day and age of having firmly established the morality of women's human rights, our government's myopic (not to mention downright callous) response to women's lack of access to information, health services and subordinate status (in the context of marriage) is nothing short of a SELL OUT. "Women's fear of side effects," bespeaks of the powerlesness borne out of ignorance, as well as the sorry state of reliable public information on women's health!

In fact, just months ago, in coming to terms with Sex Education Guidelines developed by the Department of Education, the ensuing debate on "abstinence" and "contraception," sidetracked the all important issue of the State duty to provide quality education and information. This includes matters on sexual health. Health is a human right. Not addressing women's entitlement and right to information on sexual health matters violates that right. Likewise, the problem of "husband's objection" by Filipino women unable to make decisions about their health and lives bespeaks of a glaring problem of inequality. Seventy-three years after gaining full "citizenship" rights (suffrage), women are still second class citizens when it comes to making decisions regarding their sexuality and sexual health. While there is nothing wrong with scientific Natural Family Planning if it is a woman's free and INFORMED choice, why tout it as a solution for what is clearly a problem faced by women lacking in the capacity to be treated as equals in their marriage? On the otherhand, using the age-old excuse of "culture and religious beliefs," the policy and program smacks of one-sidedness and a conservative traditional Catholic bias. After all, it is only the Catholic hierarchy which has a stated position against ALL forms of modern family planning methods. In fact, by providing all Filipinos proper information about all methods, Catholic individuals (as well as Muslims, Christians and the secularists) are better off making their decisions freely and in accordance to their conscience, not force. The final basis is perhaps the greatest cop out of all. Instead of addressing the LACK, this government is actually asking Filipinos to GRIN and BEAR the lack of health services. The message seems to be, "THERE ISN'T GOING TO BE ANY SO DEAL WITH IT." Given this administration's track record on "(mis)managing government funds," this in fact comes as no surprise but is also akin to putting salt on an already gaping wound! When health services and quality information (at the very least) can no longer be reasonably expected from a State, what is the use of paying taxes? Or what is the use of having a State? Really, what is the use of prolonging this administration's hold to power? As we watch the administration's minions waste more and more precious national time, energy and money on its cha-cha (charter change) obsession, its time to think about the decision we can make in the 2007 elections. In 2007, women's right to vote will be celebrating a 74th anniversary. Wouldn't it be something if that VOTE actually meant something again by then? Well of course that is, IF we have elections at all at the rate Congress is going! The irony of course is that up against the antics of the administration in its attempt to prevent a 2007 election, and fiddle with the Constitution's patrimony principles, most social movements for change, that includes most feminists again find themselves in actual agreement with the Catholic hierarchy most vocal against this cha-cha charade. The same Speaker of the House the CBCP has been lambasting for the cha-cha initiative is the same Congressman who provided over 50 million pesos to fund the DOH program contracting the Couples for Christ to campaign on exclusive Natural Family Planning (NFP). In 2005, Congressman Lagman ordered the DOH to submit copies of the so-called program in the budget hearings. Looking them over, it was clear the materials didn't just tackle NFP but misinformed about modern methods.I guess what I really want to ask is whether we can do this (be ANTI-CHACHA) without having to ride on the coat tails of these mighty Bishops?

My dream of a women's VOTE is actually simple. It rests on a notion of the legitimacy of women's rights claiming, founded on human rights and dignity, NOT CHURCH (Bishop's) sanction.

Read the post in the original blogsite ....