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Family Planning and Education Are Key for Women Worldwide




Source: CARE

In a northern state in India, known as Uttar Pradesh, a woman named Meena has just met her newborn child. She is joyful while breastfeeding in the crucial hours after giving birth to a healthy little one. She gave birth with help from the Sure Start program, which helps mothers give birth in clinics, assisted by a birth attendant and with the right equipment.  

Now, consider yourself going to congratulate her on the good news.  By joining, chances are you’ll share in her state of elation, as most couples cry at delivery from tears of joy.  But, if the scene doesn’t already pull at your heartstrings, this might: Imagine Meena asks you to take her newborn child with you. Not only her newborn, but her other little one as well.  

Meena faces an uncertain future, in an impoverished area in India, without the means to secure education for her children and without assurance they will be okay with her as their mother. Meena herself hasn’t heard about family planning services or accessing contraceptives until now. “It’s too late for me,” she says

Ultimately, Meena’s hopes for a brighter future for her babies lie uncertain and too difficult to bear. Make no mistake—Meena is a mother in search of help for her family.

Why Can’t We Provide the Help Meena Needs?

Today, childbirth is the leading cause of death for teenage girls ages 15 to 19 around the world.

As a result of cultural biases, child marriages, and impoverished conditions, girls as young as 9 years of age are married and face pregnancy in their teenage years in countries like Niger and Senegal. When they are married off, the promises of education fall to the curb and early motherhood often becomes their destiny.  

Young mothers lacking an education, studies show, are less able to avoid poverty, avoid premature illness or death, or keep their families healthy. Families thrive less—and the world is a less healthy place—when young mothers continue to have child after child, often without knowing the means by which they might survive. A cycle of poverty and hardship can ensue.

How can we help mothers like Meena? Through family planning services—at least, by one measure.

The definition of family planning (in part by the Kaiser Family Foundation) is: the ability of individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of births through use of modern contraception. As defined by the United Nations Population Fund, abortion is not viewed as a component of family planning.  

What Are We Doing to Provide Family Planning to Those Who Need It?

Born out of the London Summit on Family Planning in 2012, the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) program aimed to increase access to contraceptives to 120 million women and girls worldwide in the poorest countries by 2020. Currently, 53 million more women and girls are using modern contraception than were doing so in 2012.    

The FP2020 program states that, in line with country strategies to deliver family planning services, 10 dimensions of family planning are supported, including but not limited to: accessibility, acceptability, quality, empowerment, and voice and participation. 

If enacted, the program’s vision could help break biases and rebuild perspective on the value of girls and women in society. But what is certain is the impact of family planning services and education goes far. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one-third of global maternal deaths—roughly 100,000 deaths—could be prevented annually, “if women who did not wish to become pregnant had access to and used effective contraception.”  FP2020 has helped guide national governments in many countries to deliver such efforts.


Source: Jhpiego

FP2020 Country Examples
According to the World Bank and Jhpiego, respectively, Afghanistan has the highest maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in South Asia at 638 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births; Afghanistan aims to achieve 30 percent modern contraceptive prevalence among married women by 2020 under FP2020.  It is unclear whether Afghanistan has met its 2020 targets yet since joining FP2020 in 2016

Niger, located in central Africa, has had an uptake of 350,000 additional women using contraceptives since joining FP2020 in 2012, with 760,000 women now reporting use; however, a 21 percent unmet need remains in Niger today even with the efforts by FP2020.  

As made evident by Afghanistan and countries like Niger, it is clear that FP2020 still has much progress to make. As of mid-2019, an estimated 214 million women worldwide still have an unmet need for modern contraception; for comparison, the size of this unreached population equates to roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population.  FP2020 workshops in Asia and Africa this year, in part, will reveal newer country-led strategies aimed to reach 120 million in uptake of modern contraceptives by women and girls by 2030; more clearly, the revised strategies will strive to reach the initial 2020 goal by the 2030 deadline of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to a 2019 Devex report.   

SDGs on Family Planning 

SDG 3.7 says, “By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information, and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.”

In order to ensure “universal access” to family planning services by 2030, funding, planning, collaboration, and leadership will be essential by stakeholders in low and middle-income countries.  What else is needed among young girls? A strong education.


Source: UNESCO

SDGs on Education of Girls

SDG 4.1 says, “By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.”

Currently, the United Nations for Women (UN Women) states that up to 48 percent of young girls are out of school in some regions. Education of young women is key, especially in low-income settings such as Afghanistan and Niger. Studies show that education of young women helps them to avert poverty, reduce rates of illness and death, and keep their families healthy.

In order to reach more young girls, leadership and advocacy efforts by partners such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) are vital. Further, investments in education—and closing of its gender gap—by national governments and philanthropic organizations are critical.  

Reaching more young girls via primary and secondary education, combined with family planning services, is akin to strengthening families all over the world—including those like Meena’s.  

Consider the power of ending cultural biases, child marriages, and impoverished conditions through universal access to family planning services. Consider what it would mean to end the cycle of poverty via continued education throughout girls’ youth and teenage years. These are the tools or building blocks to lead toward a healthier and vibrant future for all.  

Please note: Meena’s story is a real-life story from The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates (see reference below).  It is included in this post in order to show the importance of family planning services for women and girls in impoverished settings.

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Megxit: Where Harry and Meghan could send Archie to school




  • The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will give up every aspect of royal life when they officially resign in April.
  • Its been rumored that they relocated to Vancouver island, but they reportedly moved to LA before Canada’s coronavirus border closure last week.
  • As Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s lives will change considerably, their son’s will too.
  • Even though Prince Harry (and 15 other royals) attended the notorious Eton College, baby Archie will probably not.
  • But he’ll undoubtedly receive a top-tier education. Business Insider rounded up potential playgrounds for him in Los Angeles and across Canada, including his mother’s alma mater, a school Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau taught at, and another school Trudeau attended himself.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced their plans to step back from their royal duties and titles in January. They will officially shut down their office at Buckingham Palace and stop receiving funds from the “sovereign grant” on April 1.

It was rumored the pair would relocate to Canada — they’ve been spending time on Vancouver Island — but they reportedly moved to LA last week before Canada’s border closed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Their lives will change in a number of ways — but so will their son’s. 

Archie Mountbatten-Windsor is ten months old, and while he was born a royal, he won’t be raised as one. His father attended Eton College, an elite boarding school outside of London that members of the royal family traditionally attend, but Archie will most likely not follow in his footsteps.

Even though he won’t attend Eton, which has been referred to as “the nursery of England’s gentlemen,” Archie will probably receive a similarly top-tier education in Canada — or Hollywood.

Business Insider rounded up a few posh places he could land when it’s finally time for Archie to attend school. Elite prep schools on this list could have tuitions as high as nearly $80,000.

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Call police for COVID-19 offenses? Not that simple




Police, Ottawa city councillors and news organizations have all been fielding complaints about people not complying with the instructions from public health officials on reducing the transmission of COVID-19.

Complaints from neighbours telling on neighbours who aren’t self-isolating, or groups of kids hanging out at a local park, not following social distancing — now called physical distancing — practices have been pouring in.

And people want to know where they can report those rule-breakers.

On Friday evening, for example, police were called to the Glebe after someone complained that about a dozen neighbours were having a “driveway party”, although they were standing two metres apart and in different driveways. Officers told people not to stand on the sidewalk while drinking, and then left. 

Ottawa Coun. Tim Tierney told his city council colleagues during Wednesday’s virtual council meeting: “I’ve had some people come to me, saying, ‘Look, my neighbours — I don’t want to be a rat — but they just got back from a trip, I see them going out to a grocery story.’

“Do we have any policies and procedures on that, to report people?” asked Tierney. 

The unsatisfactory answer: it depends.

Quarantine Act, state of emergency now in effect

There’s a difference between what public health officials are asking of society, and the hard-and-fast rules about what people are allowed to do. And those details are changing on an almost daily basis.

Tierney asked his question of city officials the day before the federal government enacted the Quarantine Act, which makes it an offence for most people not to self-isolate for 14 days when returning from travel outside Canada.

Last week, the province declared a state of emergency that prohibits, among other things, a whole slew of businesses from being open, and gatherings of more than 50 people.

The provinces have opened up non-compliance hotlines or websites for the public to report people who are not following social distancing or isolation rules. 1:56

The official enactments allow law-enforcement officers to charge people breaking these specific rules if necessary.  Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne, the media spokesperson for the Ontario Provincial Police, says officers would, for example, absolutely respond to a request from a quarantine officer “to apprehend a person who failed to comply” with the rules.

But charging people is the last, not the first, line of defence for enforcement officers.

“It is not about, go and find people because they haven’t complied,” Dionne told CBC.

The OPP’s primary goal, she said, is to help educate people on how to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

“Once we’ve been able to determine that that piece of education has been done and there is a repetition of failing to comply, then definitely issuing fines … at the discretion of that investigation of the officer.”

Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly says he’s taking his cue, “philosophically and practically”, from Ottawa’s medical officer of health, Dr. Vera Etches and her team.

“For them, enforcement is not the priority,” Sloly told CBC’s Ottawa Morning host Robyn Bresnahan Friday. “Education of the public, engagement of those who still don’t recognize the risk, who don’t understand how to protect themselves and therefore protect the broader community, is the first and biggest priority and will remain so until we see a change from Dr. Etches.”

Officers following up, even if not illegal activities

Some of the complaints that people are filing — and authorities say they are following up on them — aren’t illegal or sometimes based on misunderstanding.

If you’re caught disobeying the physical distancing rule you can now be charged, under the Quarantine Act. We hear from the Chief of the Ottawa Police Service about how their force is handling coronavirus law-breakers and policing in the age of COVID-19. 10:09

For example, Ottawa police have received calls about restaurants being open illegally, when in fact they are open only for take-out, which is allowed.

Early this week, the city received complaints about groups of young people in local parks, which is against the recommendation for physical distancing. Hanging around in a gang of 10 friends isn’t illegal, though.

Still, the city’s by-law officers showed up and managed to dispatch them.

Now that the City of Ottawa has declared its own state of emergency and closed many public amenities, including playgrounds and dog parks, it is unclear what additional charges or fines its own by-law officers may be able to lay.

The city was not able to respond to CBC’s request from late Wednesday for more information.

Neighbours shouldn’t use police to settle disputes

Authorities say they understand people’s impulse to report activity that looks as if it could be endangering public health.

“I can certainly believe that there’d be a lot of frustration,” said Dionne.

(CBC News)

She says most people are complying with orders — official or otherwise — to stay home, and to stay two metres away from others when they have to go out. These folks then find it difficult to hear that “police can’t do anything” about people who aren’t complying.

There isn’t an official COVID-19 snitch line in Ottawa, but officials say they do want to hear serious concerns about public health risks. In Ottawa, residents can call 3-1-1, and those outside the city can call the OPP’s non-emergency line. 

Still, the police aren’t there to mediate disputes among neighbours.

“Do not use or abuse the police to settle issues that shouldn’t be dealt with through the police,” said Sloly. ” Do not frustrate the efforts of Ottawa public health by being petty or uninformed. There’s no excuse for anybody to not be informed.”

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Coronavirus: B.C. teachers scramble to organize at-home learning as spring break ends




The B.C. government has launched a website to help parents continue their child’s education at home, as spring break comes to an end but the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The Keep Learning BC website was announced on Friday afternoon, where parents will find ideas for everyday educational activities, links to free learning resources, guides to maintaining routines and staying safe online, and mental health resources.

School districts around the province are trying to figure out remote instruction for kids of all ages, abilities and computer access, as spring break ends March 27 but in-classroom instruction remains on hold to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Vancouver School District will start to reach out to parents next week, after officials sent a letter to parents outlining plans to keep their kids learning.

B.C. suspends K-12 classes indefinitely amid coronavirus pandemic, says economic help coming

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“For Vancouver students, school will not be the same. As you know, in-class instruction is suspended. This means there will be a fundamental shift in school services and supports for students,” the letter reads.

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“Teachers and support staff will need time to prepare and plan for what that looks like and how to carry out the plans to support students. One of our top three priorities is to establish ways to maintain supportive connections between home and school.”

Parents across B.C. should expect to hear from their own school district by the end of next week.

Teachers and administrators are still expected to be at schools if they can do so under B.C.’s public health orders. They’ll continue to be paid a full salary through the end of the school year.

“The school system will be functioning. People will be doing their jobs. They will just do them differently,” Education Minister Rob Fleming said.

B.C. high school kids stuck in Peru after country takes drastic measures to control COVID-19

B.C. high school kids stuck in Peru after country takes drastic measures to control COVID-19

Schools will also serve as childcare space for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as health workers, first responders and grocery-store workers. Parents looking for such childcare should contact their school’s principal.

The province is leaving most of the planning and decisions to individual districts, but has produced a fact sheet online with the most frequently asked questions.

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As for students with special learning needs, the government says it will ensure they get the same level of education as everyone else.

Coronavirus school closures extended as B.C. cases grow

Coronavirus school closures extended as B.C. cases grow

“For students who were receiving specialized supports (e.g. physical therapy, occupational therapy) on-site, school district and independent school teams have been asked to consider alternate service delivery models where feasible,” the face sheet says.

The Learning Disabilities Society of Greater Vancouver launched the online RISE at Home program this week, which provides one-on-one at-home instruction to kids with learning disabilities. It will be available on the society’s website on March 30.

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