GLOBAL POPULATION MEDIA ANALYSIS
May 15 - 31, 2000
by Ketayoun Darvich-Kodjouri and Kathy Bonk
Communications Consortium Media Center,
1200 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 300,
Washington, DC 20005
NEWS ABOUT WOMEN 2000/BEIJING+5 BEGINS
Media outlets began reporting on Women 2000-also known as Beijing+5-which brings together governments and NGOs in New York City for a June 5-9 United Nations special session assessing advances and progress since the Fourth World Conference on Women held 1995 in Beijing.
Findings from The World's Women 2000, a new UNICEF report released in time for the UN review, were reported May 30 by Agence France Presse, and May 31 by the Associated Press, Reuters, Chicago Tribune, Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, UK), and InterPress Service. According to the Chicago Tribune, "five years after a global summit on women's issues, women around the world have made strides in employment and education but still comprise half of the world's refugees, two-thirds of its illiterates and more than half of those who died from AIDS last year."
A May 30 Associated Press story on a new documentary screened at the United Nations noted that the Beijing Platform for Action "set an ambitious goal of achieving full equality between women and men" and "spelled out objectives in a dozen critical areas including ensuring the right of women to decide matters of sexual and reproductive health." The May 30 USA Today and May 31 NBC Today Show also reported on the new documentary, "Realities of Girls' Lives: How We Can Act Now," which is hosted by actress and advocate Jane Fonda and examines the lives of Nigerian girls.
[NOTE: The next media analysis will report on the extensive print and broadcast coverage of Women 2000 by media outlets throughout the world in June.]
OTHER GLOBAL POPULATION COVERAGE
The May 26 Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported that "Vietnam is experiencing a dramatic rise in births this year," with the birth rate "shooting up nine percent over the same period last year." While in Japan, employers are giving "congratulatory bonuses to workers who become parents" in order to "reverse record-low birthrates that pose many long-term problems" according to the May 30 New York Times.
THE SEE CHANGE CAMPAIGN
Media outlets across the country reported on recent developments in the See Change campaign, spearheaded by Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC), which "has called on the United Nations to revoke the Vatican's status and says the church has used its power at the world body to limit access to family planning and safe abortions," according to the May 27 Washington Post.
The May 27 New York Times reported that Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush "took the side of the Vatican in [the] battle over its status at the United Nations" and Vice President Gore "and the Clinton administration backed the Vatican's permanent-observer status as well." The May 26 Associated Press and May 27 Los Angeles Times also reported on the story.
The Associated Press and Reuters reported May 16 that the U.S. Catholic bishops conference issued a statement denouncing the See Change campaign. CFFC "defended itself against [the] denunciation...saying it was being targeted for its effectiveness in presenting the views of dissenting Catholics," according to a May 17 Associated Press story.
UPDATES ABOUT FAMILY PLANNING AND CONTRACEPTIVES
A May 26 Panafrican News Agency story reported that Ghanaian First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings launched a campaign to introduce the female condom in Ghana. The story noted that Ghana has "the second highest prevalence of HIV in West Africa" and the female condom gives "women greater control of their reproductive health."
The Ugandan Ministry of Health has made emergency contraceptives available in that country, which "has one of the highest numbers of teenage pregnancies in sub-Saharan Africa," according to the May 30 Africa News Service.
In the United States, "emergency contraceptives are still not within easy reach of many women," according to the May 22 Los Angeles Times, and "health activists are trying to improve access...[to]reduce the nation's high rate of unplanned pregnancies."
CONGRESS AND INTERNATIONAL FAMILY PLANNING
The May 22 Washington Post reported that Republican leaders in the House of Representatives "made a plea to members to refrain from offering potentially divisive amendments that could bog down" spending bills. However, "Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) is almost certain to insist again on an amendment to the foreign operations spending bill barring funds to international family planning groups that lobby for abortion reform."
OPINIONS & EDITORIALS
The May 25 Washington Post published an editorial criticizing Congress for "play[ing] games with the UN money." The editorial noted that "six months ago Congress and the administration concluded a three-year fight over the United States' unpaid dues to the United Nations," which "took that long...because a single congressman, Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), blocked the money in the House until he won concessions on family-planning policy."
The San Diego Union-Tribune stated May 23 that "last year, a handful of isolationists and anti-abortionists blocked payment of the $1.7 billion in back dues America owes the United Nations" in an editorial urging members of Congress not to "substitute [their] views for the policy of the United States."
An editorial in the May 18 Providence Journal-Bulletin urged the United States to "do more to help India stabilize its population growth," on the occasion of India's population reaching one billion.
Save the Children's State of the World's Mothers 2000 was the focus of a May 16 Albuquerque Journal editorial, which noted that "the mother's level of education and use of voluntary family planning methods were most closely tied to improved status for both mother and child."
A May 30 Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial urged the world to help stem agricultural land erosion, "in a world where human population is increasing rapidly" and "more, not less, arable land is needed to feed Earth's growing population."
A lengthy column in the May 28 Plain Dealer by Tom Brazatis highlighted findings from the Worldwatch Institute's Vital Signs 2000 report. He noted that world population reached 6 billion last year, which was not surprising since "120 million women in developing countries have no access to family planning services and another 350 million women lack regular access."
A letter to the editor in the May 17 New York Times by Center for Reproductive Law and Policy President Janet Benshoof challenged the notion that "reproductive rights" refers only to abortion. Instead, according to Benshoof, "these rights include the right to decide on the number, spacing and timing on one's children and to have the information, education and the means to do so," which includes "services related to family planning, maternal health, treatment of HIV-AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, infertility and reproductive cancers."
The above analysis was written by Ketayoun Darvich-Kodjouri and Kathy Bonk at the Communications Consortium Media Center, 1200 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005, 202/326-8700.
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