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February 2015 Newsletter

Letter from IWI Director

- Roe v Wade.....42 Years Later

Last month America celebrated the 42nd anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled that a woman’s constitutional right to privacy includes her right to abortion. Since then, opponents of women’s health have been working tirelessly to chip away at access to safe and legal abortion by passing restrictions under the guise of protecting patient safety. These restrictions have escalated in recent years, and as a result, more than half of all women of reproductive age in the U.S. live in a state where their access is restricted.

These restrictions shutter clinics, force women to drive hundreds of miles to their nearest provider or require women to make multiple trips to a health center for no medical reason. A new report from the Guttmacher Institute, an independent reproductive health research organization, found that 335 provisions aimed at restricting abortion access were introduced across the U.S. in 2014 alone.

These laws supposedly seek to improve the safety of abortion, but in reality, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States. Data, including from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, show that abortion has a greater than 99 percent safety record; studies show women experience major complications less than one percent of the time. In those rare cases when complications do occur, they are similar to those that may occur from miscarriage, which ob-gyns and other health care providers treat every day. Abortion has been safely and legally provided to patients in health centers and doctors’ offices for more than four decades.

Abortion is a personal, private decision each woman must make for herself, taking into account her own values and responsibilities. Ultimately, these decisions must be left to a woman, in consultation with her family and her doctor or health care provider, and those decisions need to be respected. Studies show that three in 10 women in the U.S. have had an abortion. Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. each year are unintended, and four in 10 of these are ended by medically safe, legal abortions.

In order to ensure abortion remains safe and legal for future generations, we must replace misinformation with the facts and start having honest conversations about abortion in America today. We urge politicians to use the facts when making policy that affects women’s lives. The science says abortion is safe, but time and time again politicians are ignoring the facts and working to make it harder or impossible for a woman to obtain a safe and legal abortion, even if she has decided it is the right decision for her.

Best Wishes,
Aubrey Shayler
Founder and Executive Director


IWI News

IWI Survivor's Blog Highlights

There have been many vital issues addressed by the writers and photographers of IWI Survivor's Blog.  The highlights are:  
  • Female Genital Mutilation - an end with this generation? - by Andrew Lord. In honour of the recent International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, IWI staff writer Andrew Lord explores this barbaric procedure. Deeply rooted in culture, it is viewed as a means to ensure that girls remain ‘pure’. For the full article click here.
  • Renovating abandoned lives for women suffering obstetric fistula - by Victoria Womersley. Compelling article by IWI's Blog Editor Victoria Womersley, with photos by IWI staff photographer Loran Hollander about the suffering associated with fistula. Fistula is a debilitating injury which the UN estimates affects more than 2 million women in developing nations. And although the communities regard those who suffer from it as bad omens at best, or evil witches at worst, it is a preventable and treatable wound.  For full article click here.
  • WOMEN, GBV AND BOKO HARAM - by Isabella Seibt.  Very informative article by IWI staff writer Isabella Seibt about Boko Haram and the group's origins and supposed rationale for their activities of terror.  Read his full article by clicking here.
  • Action and Reaction: How far are we from Gender Equality? - by Vincentia Osabutey-Anikon.  Reading through countless literature on gender equality and women empowerment initiatives, it has become apparent that, other than the issue of funding, there are three main challenges to ending gender inequality. These have been identified as - the difficulties in effecting change in patriarchal traditions; concentration on short term projects rather than long term sustainability; and the failure to incorporate gender equality policy as part of social justice and development work. Overseas Development Institute (ODI) researchers Rebecca Holmes and Nicola Jones (2013) make a clear argument for ‘gender-sensitive social protection programming’ and state that gender-sensitivity should be at the heart of programmes tackling social change, particularly those dealing with poverty and vulnerability, rather than an add-on option. For more information click here

Our Survivor's Blog is an open window for exploring issues related to women's rights and development globally.  We have called it the Survivor's Blog because we find it vital for stories from survivors around the world to share their experiences in a forum alongside supporters.  All posts are monitored by Victoria Womersley, IWI's Blog Editor.  If you are interested in contributing a blog piece or have any suggestions, these can be sent directly to her at 

Volunteer with IWI

IWI volunteers have become the backbone of our organisation.  Without their dedication and contributions IWI would not be able to flourish.  We are requesting CVs for Director of Communications, Communications Researchers and Fundraising Researchers.  For those interested please contact us at  

International News

Mass rape in Darfur: Sudanese army blamed for multiple attacks on women - The Independent

Over 200 women and girls in Darfur were raped over three days in a “widespread, organised and systematic” attack by Sudanese government forces, a Human Rights Watch report claims today.  For full article click here.

Saudi Historian Says U.S. Women Drive Because They Don't Care If They're Raped - The Huffington Post

Saleh al-Saadoon claimed in a recent TV interview that women can be raped when a car breaks down, but unlike other countries, Saudi Arabia protects its women from that risk by not allowing them to drive in the first place.  For full article click here.

American ISIS Hostage Kayla Mueller Is Dead - NBC News

American ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller is dead, the aid worker's family and the White House said Tuesday. The announcement came four days after ISIS claimed the 26-year-old Arizona native had been killed by a coalition airstrike in Syria.  For full article visit page

Life as a woman under Isis: Document reveals for the first time what group really expects from female recruits living in Syria and Iraq - The Independent

When it comes to the double duty of preventing both pregnancy and HIV, condoms are the best option, especially in the developing world where treatment for the infectious disease is harder to access. But the same is not true of other contraceptive methods. For full article click here.

IWI Staff Spotlight

Victoria Womersley - IWI Survivor's Blog Editor

Victoria has provided a two-way window for the world to experience the writing and art published on our Survivor's Blog, as well as a forum for our staff to educate others. Her contributions are unprecedented. IWI is honoured to have her as our editor.  To review Victoria's bio click here.

Ideal Hoxha - Operations Assistant

As IWI's Operations Assistant, Ideal has been a steadfast staff member who we depend on regularly to make sure operations are running smoothly.  Ideal's contributions are ensuring the growth of IWI and for that we are thankful.  To review Ideal's bio click here.
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