The EngenderHealth News Blog
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

EngenderHealth Staff Member Joins Global Network of Men Leaders

On November 24, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon launched his Network of Men Leaders at the official observance of the 10th anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. In addition to EngenderHealth's own Senior Technical Advisor Andrew Levack, members include Desmond Tutu, Paulo Coelho, and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (the prime minister of Spain). The Network will provide a platform for world leaders to advocate for and provide guidance and direction to end violence against women. Learn more.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bringing Back Dignity: Fistula Survivors in Ethiopia

Three newly-posted videos tell the stories of Tihun, Yeserash, and Abebu -- three young women from Ethiopia who have survived obstetric fistula. The women and their family members give insight into the difficulties of life with fistula, the joys of being repaired, and the lessons learned from their experiences. These videos are excerpts from the film "Bringing Back Dignity," produced under the ACQUIRE Project funded by USAID.

Despite the double tragedy of losing her baby and developing a fistula, Tihun has been blessed with a supportive husband who did not leave her when she was ill. Her husband Aweke explains that everyone urged him to leave his wife with beliefs that he would contract her condition, but he would not do so. Both Tihun and Aweke have learned valuable lessons from Tihun's fistula. Aweke regrets not being careful to use protection that would prevent an early pregnancy. Tihun vows that if she ever has a daughter she will not marry her off, and instead will let her go to school and then choose her own husband.

Yeserash and her father, Simeneh, express the hardships of obstetric fistula as well as the lessons learned from their experience. Simeneh's father regrets marrying off his daughter at the young age of 12 or 13 and vows that he will not do the same with his other daughters. He wishes other people would learn from his "painful mistake", urging them not to arrange early marriages and to allow their daughters to consent to marriage. Yeserash is now fully recovered and has since had a health baby boy.

Abebu, a 20-year-old fistula survivor, describes the hardships of living with a fistula and how her life has been transformed by repair. Abebu was married at the age of 15 and developed her fistula after four days of prolonged labor. When her leaking began, her husband stole her property and threw her out and her parents shunned her. Now that she is cured, Abebu is glad to be able to mingle with friends and participate in community events.

These videos recount hardships and celebrate achievements related to the participant's daily struggles with pregnancy, loss, and relationships, as well as their search for safety, acceptance, and dignity. Our hope is that viewers will come away with greater compassion, as well as an understanding of what causes fistula, how women can be repaired, and why community members, the health sector, and policymakers all have critical roles to play in prevention.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Save the Date: Accelerating Equality for Women and Girls Around the World

If you live in the New York City area, please join us on Thursday, December 3, for this important event. "Accelerating Equality for Women and Girls around the World: A Conversation with Media, Activists, Entrereneurs, and You" will include:
The event will be moderated by Maria Hinojosa, Senior Correspondent, NOW on PBS.

This event is free and open to all, but space is limited. To attend, you must RSVP to For more information, read the online invitation, or call 212-561-8456.