Microsoft word - beijingissue9.doc
March 16, 2000
Youth Caucus Finds Consensus
We at the World Youth Alliance have been excited to be active participants in
the Youth Caucus here at the Beijing+5 Prep Com. Over the past two weeks, we
have gotten to know dozens of our peers from other organizations. Like us,
they come from a wide variety of experiences and cultural backgrounds.
Sometimes we have found that our specific suggestions for improvement are very different from those of our Caucus colleagues. But, most often, a spirit
of constructive cooperation, mutual respect, and civil debate has enabled us to
move forward productively and efficiently. As we near the end of the
Conference, we hope to be able to produce a consensus statement from the diverse members of the Youth Caucus that will make our voices heard on the many important issues on which we can agree. Over the past few days, we have been meeting with our partners to discuss barriers to youth participation in UN conferences. During the course of those conversations, we discovered common ground. One proposal for facilitating youth participation in the future was to ensure that the Youth Unit of the UN Secretariat would help to obtain passports and visas for youth who want to attend conferences in places far from their homes. Many Youth Caucus members were excited about constructing one central web page to coordinate UN youth activities around the globe. Hosted by the Youth Unit, this web page would present in an easy-to-understand format all relevant information on upcoming UN youth conferences as well as helpful tips on how to apply for credentials, obtain funding, and arrange for transportation. This central source of information would be a great improvement over the current situation in which young delegates must try to gather information from diffuse sources, often from great distances or in countries with unreliable postal systems. The remaining serious obstacle to the success of this proposed Internet site is access. In some developing countries, Internet terminals are still very rare. One possible solution would be to install central Internet ports that are open to a wide public even in the most disadvantaged regions of our world. Although we anticipated and discovered some issues on which all the youth at Beijing+5 could not agree, we in the World Youth Alliance are happy to report that our participation in the Youth Caucus has been an opportunity to overcome differences and address common concerns. We hope to be able to finish this Conference by issuing a unified recommendation from the youth to the assembled delegates. In anticipation of the release of the Youth Caucus statement, we urge all conference participants to acknowledge young people’s contribution and listen carefully to our concerns. We often hear that the youth are "the leaders of tomorrow." Our responsible participation in Beijing+5 has proven that we can also be leaders today.
Contraceptives Damage Women’s Health
"Reproductive health" is a major focus in the Beijing Platform for Action and proposed outcome document. What is often forgotten in the discussion on reproductive services, especially access to contraception, is that many chemical contraceptives can be harmful to a woman's health. This should be food for thought as some of our conference colleagues continue to lobby for the global propagation of various types of birth control. The most common form of the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) is a combination of synthetic estrogen and progestin, the two major female hormones. The pill causes several alterations to a woman's body, restricting her reproductive capabilities. Studies have shown that these changes, though successful in controlling birth, can be harmful to overall health. One particular concern is that a direct relationship exists between the use of the oral contraceptive pill and an increase in breast cancer. Recent compilations of several international studies show that women who use the oral contraceptive pill may have as much as a 230% increased risk of contracting breast cancer. A 1989 study found that women who had not experienced a first-term pregnancy had a higher rate of breast cell division when they took OCPs. Cells that divide more quickly have a greater chance of becoming cancerous. Earlier, in 1981, researchers found that women who had taken OCPs prior to first-term pregnancy had a two- to four-times greater risk of developing breast cancer before age 32 than their non-contracepting peers. A 1994 United Kingdom National Study (Chilvers et al.) found that young women using oral contraceptives for at least four years before a first-term pregnancy had at least a 44% increased risk of breast cancer. The largest study on this subject, Brinton et al. (1995), found that women who used OCPs for more than six months prior to first-term pregnancy had a 41% increased risk of breast cancer. Four major studies show that all women under the age of 45 who use OCPs have at least a 40% increased risk of breast cancer. More startling are the results of Romieur et al., a 1993 study that compiled all data after 1980. It found that women who used oral contraceptive pills experienced a 72% increased risk of breast cancer. Other oral contraceptives may be equally dangerous to women. Skegg et al. combined data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and two New Zealand studies on long-acting progestin contraceptives such as Norplant and Depo-Provera. The study showed that using these types of OCPs for two to three years before age 25 increased breast cancer risk by an astounding 310%. In a study of women who are currently battling breast cancer, those who used OCPs at an early age have a higher rate of tumor cell proliferation.
In Holland, of 918 Dutch women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, 85% had used the pill at some time (Rookus and Van Leeuwen). All of these studies point to the conclusion that use of oral contraceptive pills, including so-called "mini-pills" and long-acting progestin contraceptives, can significantly increase a woman's risk of contracting breast cancer while at the same time decreasing her ability to combat the disease. Most birth control drugs do not contribute to improved health for women. In fact, contraceptive chemicals can considerably damage a woman's health and longevity. We must question those who continue to promote contraceptives as the foundation of women's health and social equity. (Source: Dr. Joel Brind, Association for Interdisciplinary Research in Values and Social Change)
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