Unsafe abortions remain a major concern – and cause of maternal deaths – in Zambia despite the existence of the Termination of Pregnancy Act No. 26 of 1972 and several other policies and guidelines that are intended to prevent unwanted and unintended pregnancies. While these are all regarded favourably by the people who know about them, the fact is that very few Zambians are aware of them. Therefore, it is shocking – but not surprising – that the 2006 University Teaching Hospital facility based data showed that unsafe abortions accounted for 30 percent of all maternal deaths in Zambia.

There is still an awfully long way to go but sex workers in South Africa can now start to imagine a time when they will not be arrested for simply doing their job. When they will not be beaten, robbed and raped because they sell sex. When they will not be routinely abused by police and ignored by health professionals – the very people who are meant to help and protect them.

When they will be able to enjoy the same basic human rights as everyone else.

Botswana is experiencing one of the most severe HIV/AIDS pandemics in the world. In 2009, it was estimated that one quarter of the population was living with HIV. Research suggests that sex workers play a critical role in reducing the spread of the pandemic.

However, sex workers remain criminalised in Botswana, which results in stigma, and discrimination against them at the hands of health service providers. An additional problem is the police harassment that prevents sex workers from consistently accessing prevention and health care, ultimately fuelling HIV transmission.

In the latter half of 2011, the Zimbabwean Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs announced that it was making moves to harmonise the country’s marriage laws, which have long been criticised for not giving women the same marriage rights and legal protection as their spouses or counterparts in other unions. The changes would see every Zimbabwean marriage being recognised under one act and the same rights and limitations being applied to all marriages by the proposed law. Zimbabwe’s law currently recognises two kinds of unions –civil marriage and registered customary marriage.

A new online publication by young women in Zimbabwe for young women has just been launched.

The first edition of The Web News came out at the end of March 2011. Produced by a team from the Web for Life Network, the first edition of The Web News focuses on a number of crucial aspects of young women’s development such as leadership, mentorship, life skills and of course our sexual and reproductive health rights.

The Paradox of Unequal Growth

Read it on the website or on your iPad

While the Spear debate raged recently, a group of activists and academics convened in Cape Town to discuss the very issues that the controversial artwork sought to raise. The OpenForum, provocatively titled “Money, Sex and Power: The Paradox of Unequal Growth” brought back a flood of memories for me – memories of the way activism once was in South Africa.

OpenForum on the theme of Money, Power and Sex: The paradox of unequal growth. Taking place at the International Convention Centre in Cape Town, the OpenForum will represent the first event of its kind and will provide a space for activists, academics, businesspeople and policy-makers to talk about the economic, social and political implications for Africa of the emerging world order.

On the day before the OpenForum begins, the four Open Society Africa Foundations will be convening a Youth Summit with around 60 participants coming from more than 20 African countries. An underlying theme throughout the OpenForum will be that of ‘game-changing’.

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