Saturday, February 24, 2007

UN Panel on HIV/AIDS and female Genital Mutilation

Who: IHEU -- Appignani Center for Bioethics, Population Communications International and Femmes Afrique Solidarite

What: UN Panel on Health and Empowerment: The Impact of HIV/AIDS and FGM

777 UN Plaza, New York City

When: Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007 12:00 PM-1:45 PM

Contact: 212-687-3324 (tel) | 212-661-4188 (fax) | | E-mail:

On Wed, Feb. 28, 2007 a panel of bioethicists, physicians and activists will discuss "Health and Empowerment: The impact of HIV/AIDS Epidemic Worldwide and Female Genital Mutilation in African Diaspora Communities" at the United Nations under the auspices of the Division for the Advancement of Women, Commission on the Status of Women.
The panel will discuss the health and empowerment of women, focusing on the international HIV/AIDS epidemic, female genital mutilation (FGM) in Africa and immigrant communities living in Western nations.

Although the practice of FGM is viewed by many within the international community as a human rights violation, FGM is reportedly still performed on three million women annually. It is estimated that 130 million girls alive today have undergone FGM.

The U.N. has challenged the world to fulfill eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015 that would drastically improve living standards around the world. The panel will address FGM within the context of these goals, FGM's relationship to the HIV-AIDS epidemic and directions for the future.

Speakers include:

Wayne R. Cohen, M.D., Ph.D is chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Jamaica Hospital NY, visiting professor Dept. of Ob--Gyn and Women's Health at Albert Einstein Bronx, NY. He was the Obstetrician and Gynecology-in-Chief Sinai hospital of Baltimore Maryland. He wrote an important book entitled Complications in Pregnancy, published by Lippincott Williams&Wilkins 2000 (the 5th edition).

Adrian Sângeorzan, M.D., a specialist obstetrician and gynecologist and a full-time attending and faculty adviser at Jamaica Hospital, New York. A graduate of the Medical School at the University of Cluj, Transylvania, Sângeorzan worked as a doctor in Romania until immigrating to the United States in 1990. His prizewinning, best-selling volume of memoirs and fiction, ,Between Two Worlds-- Tales of a Women's Doctor, is published in Romanian and English.

Zeinab Eyega, M.Sc, executive director and founder of Sauti Yetu, an organization seeking to empower women to exercise, advocate and protect their rights based in New York City. Previously she was a program director for the African Immigrant Program at Research, Action and Information Network for the Bodily Integrity of Women (RAINBO), a program that examined the needs of circumcised women and girls in New York City. In addition to teaching and public speaking, she has facilitated numerous cross-cultural competency workshops for health care providers and reproductive health promotion seminars for African immigrant and refugee communities throughout the U.S.

Tata Traore, director of intervention for the Bondala Department of the Harlem United Community AIDS Center, a community-based organization providing a unique continuum of care for over 2,300 clients per year. She works to integrate socially and economically disenfranchised people into a healthy and healing community, offering clients access to a full range of medical, social, and supportive services.

Ana Lita, Ph.D., director of the IHEU-Appignani Center for Bioethics in New York City. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Ethics and Social Philosophy from Bowling Green State University. The author of numerous conference presentations and publications in the fields of education, ethics and bioethics, Ana Lita is a Women's Bioethics Project Scholar and
the recipient of a Soros Foundation Fellowship and a National Association Fellowship for International Scholars.

Michael Castlen, executive director of PCI --Telling Stories, Saving Lives in New York City. He has an extensive background building organizational capacity in non-profit organizations, specifically those involved in international development. He served as Chief Operating Officer at the Foundation for a Civil Society and worked with NGOs in the Czech Republic and Slovakia to strengthen civil society organizations and nurture local corporate philanthropy. At Holt International he worked in Romania on strengthening child-welfare.

The IHEU-Appignani Center for Bioethics focuses on raising awareness of bioethical issues confronting the international. The Center is a new initiative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), an international umbrella organization for humanist, ethical culture, rationalist, secularist and free-thought groups. IHEU holds a special consultative status with the U.N., a general consultative status with UNICEF and the Council of Europe as well as operational relations with UNESCO in Paris.

PCI -- Telling Stories, Saving Lives (Population Communications International) is dedicated to the promotion of education and health, including reproductive health and informed choice; sensitivity to national and local cultures; and the principles put forth by the U.N. Millennium Development Goals. PCI develops entertainment-education programs and social marketing strategies that support targeted health and poverty alleviation initiatives. For more than 20 years, PCI has worked in over 27 countries, producing more than 75 radio and television programs, training hundreds of individuals, providing technical assistance to more than 100 international organizations. Central to PCI's long-running Kenyan radio drama Ushiwapo Shikamana was a storyline about the health consequences of female genital mutilation (FGM).

In the fall of 2006, PCI and the IHEU-Appignani Center for Bioethics launched a new program, the Women's Health Center, aimed at supporting grassroots women's health organizations develop their own resources to address the global status of women's health. The Women's Health Center enables these organizations to merge their resources and develop new, innovative strategies to improve the lives of the world's most vulnerable women.

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