The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), International Lactation Consultant Association/United States Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA/USLCA), and La Leche League International (LLLI) are jointly issuing an urgent call for human milk donations for premature infants in Haiti, as well as sick and premature infants in the United States.

This week the first shipment of human milk from mothers in the United States will be shipped to the U.S. Navy Ship “Comfort” stationed outside Haiti. “Comfort” is currently set up with a neonatal intensive care unit and medical personnel to provide urgent care to victims of the earthquake. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant stationed at the U.S. Navy base in Bethesda, MD is assisting with providing breast pump equipment and supplies to the “Comfort.” Dr. Erika Beard-Irvine, pediatric neonatologist, is on board the “Comfort” to coordinate distribution of the milk to infants in need. HMBANA, USBC, ILCA/USLCA, and LLL are responding to requests to provide milk for both premature infants and at-risk mothers who have recently delivered babies on board the U.S.N.S. Comfort, but an urgent need exists for additional donations.

At the current time, the infrastructure to deliver human milk on land to Haiti infants has not yet been established. As soon as that infrastructure is in place, additional donations will be provided to older infants.

Mothers who are willing to donate human milk should contact their regional Mothers’ Milk Bank of HMBANA. A list of regional milk banks is available at the HMBANA website at http://www.hmbana.org.

Currently milk banks are already low on donor milk. New milk donations will be used for both Haiti victims as well as to replenish donor supplies to continue to serve sick and premature infants in the U.S. Donor milk provides unique protection for fragile preterm infants. Financial donations are also strongly encouraged to allow HMBANA, a nonprofit organization, to continue serving infants in need.

UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Emergency Nutrition Network, and medical professionals all recommend that breastfeeding and human milk be used for infants in disasters or emergencies. Human milk is life-saving due to its disease prevention properties. It is safe, clean, and does not depend on water which is often unavailable or contaminated in an emergency. Relief workers, health care providers, and other volunteers are urged to provide support for breastfeeding mothers to enable them to continue breastfeeding, and to assist pregnant and postpartum women in initiating and sustaining breastfeeding.

For more information, contact HMBANA at 408-998-4550 or http://www.hmbana.org . Additional information can be provided from the United States Breastfeeding Committee at 202-367-1132 (www.usbreastfeeding.org), ILCA/USLCA at 1-800-452-2478 (www.ilca.org or www.uslca.org ), or La Leche League at 847-519-7730 (http://www.llli.org/) .


Sorry! It was all a mistake

Mixing sexes in Saudi Arabia: Not so terrible after all? | The Economist.

Top Saudi Arabian religious officials have begun to endorse a clear distinction between the innocent meddling of the sexes and sinful behavior in recent weeks.

For decades, agents of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, (religious police) have enforced a strict separation of the sexes in Saudi Arabia. This policy has circumscribed the lives of women and girls and in some instances has resulted in tragic deaths.

In 2002, the religious police stopped girls from leaving their burning school because they were not wearing strict Islamic dress. The police also stopped men who tried to rescue the girls, warning, “It is sinful to approach them.” Several girls died.

Now, it seems, this was all a mistake. Religious officials have declared that prohibitions against the mixing of the sexes in public places come from conservative tribal customs not the rules of sharia.

This sort of confusion is nothing new, nor is it unique to Islam or Saudi Arabia. Religion has long been used as a way to reinforce ethnic and cultural traditions that limit the rights of women and girls, including the right to inheritance and access to education, healthcare and decent work. Religion has also been used to justify harmful cultural practices such as FGM and child marriage.

It is to be hoped that religious leaders throughout the world will continue on this path of making honest distinctions between true religious law and discriminatory practices against women and girls that have their roots in custom and tradition.

Invitation to Join Study on Girls’ Rights!

I am currently the Co-chair of the NGO Committee on UNICEF – Working Group on Girls. One of our members is conducting a study on Girls’ Rights as part of her doctoral work at the University of Galway.

“Are you a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 years who is attending the upcoming 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in March 2010? If so, then you are eligible to participate in an exciting study on girls’ rights at CSW54!

The study is titled, “What does it mean to be a girl with ‘rights’? A conversation with UN CSW girl delegates about how they understand and experience rights in their everyday lives.” The purpose of this research is to speak with girls about what rights mean to them and to explore how having rights impacts girls’ everyday lives.

To join the study:

– You must be attending CSW54,

– Be between the ages of 12-18 years, and

– Of course, be a girl!

Each participant is expected to attend 3 research sessions during CSW54 including:

– Peer-to-peer interview (where girls in the study interview one another),

– Focus group with all the girls in the study, and

– Individual interview.

Participation is voluntary and any information collected during the sessions will be kept strictly confidential and anonymous. A maximum of ten girls will be selected for this research.

If you are interested in joining the study or finding out more information,visit: http://www.girlsrights.org/Study.html

Please contact Emily Bent at: e.bent1@nuigalway.ie.”

Human Rights and HIV/AIDS

Today the United Nations marked World AIDS Day by highlighting the connection between human rights promotion and successful efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an urgent end to discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. “I urge all countries to remove punitive laws, policies and practices that hamper the AIDS response, including travel restrictions against people living with HIV,” said Mr. Ban. “Successful AIDS responses do not punish people; they protect them.”

We must ensure that AIDS responses are based on evidence, not ideology, and reach those most in need and most affected,” said the Secretary-General. “On this World AIDS Day, let us uphold the human rights of all people living with HIV, people at risk of infection, and children and families affected by the epidemic.

Progress in reversing the AIDS epidemic in some countries is outpaced by new infections on a global scale making AIDS one of the leading causes of premature death worldwide.  For every two people who begin treatment, five become newly infected with HIV. Women and girls have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.

  • Worldwide, women constitute half of all people living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Globally and in every region, more adult women (15 years or older) than ever before are now living with HIV.
  • Women are at least twice as likely to acquire HIV from men during sexual intercourse than vice versa.
  • Only 20% of young women aged 15 to 24 correctly identify ways of preventing HIV transmission and reject major misconceptions about HIV transmission.
  • In low- and middle-income countries, only one-third of pregnant women are currently offered services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, women constitute 59% of all people living with HIV/AIDS. Among young people aged 15-24, the HIV prevalence rate for young women is almost three times higher than the rate among young men.

For this reason, laws that criminalize HIV transmission, such as the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Bill before the Ugandan legislature, can result in disproportionate prosecution of women and girls because more women are tested as part of pre- or ante-natal medical care and therefore know their HIV status. Women’s and girl’s inability to safely negotiate condom use or disclosure to partners who might have been the source of their infection is not recognized in this bill as defenses against criminal penalties. Women who transmit HIV to their infants after birth via breast milk would also be subject to criminal prosecution.

The punitive approach of this bill is likely to make people shy away from requesting testing or treatment. Experience has shown that programs that emphasize prevention and reduce stigma are far more effective in combating HIV/AIDS and are better for women and girls.

Civil Society Must Pressure Governments to “Seal the Deal” in Copenhagen

Join the call for a global climate deal at TckTckTck.orgIn April 2009, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the United Nation’s international climate change campaign under the title “Seal the Deal!” This campaign is about mobilizing political leaders, the business sector, NGOs, women’s groups, youth organizations and civil society around the issue of climate change to ensure that a definitive, fair, balanced and effective climate agreement is reached when governments meet in Copenhagen from 7-18 December, 2009.  Seal the Deal! is about drumming up support at every level within the global community for urgent and united action on climate change. The significance of climate change in our world today is undisputed: countries all over the world are seeing its effects and are concerned about the devastating effects it could have on future generations. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stressed the importance of immediate and serious action to fight the climate crisis, describing it as “the defining challenge of our generation.”

The latest scientific research shows that the climate is changing more rapidly than expected-~millions of people are already suffering from its effects. Nine out of every ten disasters recorded are now climate related. The impacts of climate change are already being felt in the most fragile ecosystems around the world such as coral reefs and mountain habitats. Twenty to thirty percent of species on earth also face an increased risk of extinction as wildlife and biological life confronts new challenges from climate change. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warns that, “the time for delays and half-measures is over. The personal leadership of every head of state or government is needed to seize this moment to protect people and the planet from one of the most serious challenges ever to confront humanity.”

What Can You Do?

Visit: http://tcktcktck.org/ and add your name to the list of global citizens for climate action. Tell world leaders that you are ready for a global climate deal that is fair, ambitious and binding. Then click on “Do More” to learn ways that you can recruit your friends to support this campaign, follow UN climate change negotiations, follow your country or adopt a negotiator.

“The Journey, Exposing the Sex Trade” Coming to NYC

Through a striking art installation, actress Emma Thompson chronicles the story of a naive 18-year-old from a small Eastern European republic who was caught up in London’s sex trade. Her name is Elena, and her story makes its debut in New York on Nov. 10. This art installation will be in Washington Square Park, New York City, November 10-16.  Thompson will be in the seventh container.

COUNTDOWN TO COPENHAGEN: Time to Ensure Enough for All

December 2009 will bring a great opportunity to curb climate change.  Government representatives will be meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark for crucial international talks and to finalize a new global agreement to follow the Kyoto Protocol.  Currently CO2 emissions are contributing to changes in the earth’s climate, causing suffering to the poorest of the poor in both industrialized and developing countries.  People who have benefited the least from activities that cause climate change are suffering the most.

It is time for the developing world, and in particular the United States, to come together to act responsibly to address this injustice.

Please call on your government leaders to seize this opportunity to curb carbon emissions and protect the earth that sustains us all.

Write to:
Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Office of the Prime Minister
10 Downing Street,

Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Canada
K1A 0A2

Dear __________________:
In December 2009, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen for crucial international talks about climate change. I’d like you to be there in person to demonstrate how much we care about our global family and our willingness to do what it takes to address this challenge with compassion and resolution.

I believe everyone needs to do their part, so I will:

  • Personally evaluate my lifestyle and commit to actions that significantly reduce my carbon footprint.
  • Let my elected representatives know my views about domestic legislation needed to address climate change and to create a greener, more just economy.
  • Urge you and our country’s negotiating team to commit, along with other industrialized countries, to:
  • Make at least an 80% cut in domestic carbon emissions by 2050.
  • Assist and help to pay for developing nations to reduce their emissions, develop cleanly, and adapt to climate change.
  • Hold you and the negotiators in my prayers and meditations as leaders meet in Copenhagen.




The last international agreement to stabilize carbon emissions was signed in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. The targets set by that agreement, called the Kyoto Protocol, expire in 2012. It is time to strengthen it and extend it. It also is time for the United States to join the global community in addressing climate change.
Since 1997, scientific research has dramatically increased our knowledge about the speed and extent of climate change and how it is harming God’s creation. The world’s leading scientists recommend limiting the rise in global temperature to less than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Here’s what they say can happen if we don’t:

  • Acute water shortages for 1 to 3 billion people
  • 30 million more people going hungry
  • 40 to 60 million more Africans exposed to malaria
  • In the U.S., heat-related premature deaths would increase

We need to set the bar high. The new deal must effectively curb high carbon emissions. It also must require industrialized nations like the U.S. to act responsibly by making the largest cuts in their carbon emissions, and by contributing the most money to help the developing countries now suffering the worst effects of climate change.
More than just an agreement is at stake. Climate change goes to the very heart of how people live in this world that God created and we all share. We can make a difference for generations to come. We can help make sure that women and girls in the developing world are not stuck in poverty, having to choose between going to school or walking more and more miles in search of less and less water.

It is within our power to create an earth where all of God’s children share in the abundance of this magnificent creation. Now is the time for us to ensure that there is enough for all.

US citizens can access the Countdown to Copenhagen pledge online at the Church World Service website: http://www.churchworldservice.org/site/PageServer?pagename=how_adv_copenhagen_pledge

Additional Resources can be found at:

http://www.arcworld.org/ (The Alliance of Religions and Conservation)

Partnership for Global Justice
211 East 43rd Street, Suite 708
New York, NY 10017