May 26, 2017


By: Muneeza Naqvi

Gurjeet is the child Kaur yearned for desperately, after 40 years of being that thing which a rural Indian woman dreads more than almost anything else — barren. She gave birth at 58 years old, with help from a controversial IVF clinic in a corner of north India that specializes in fertility treatments for women over 50.

Such treatments have become more common across the world, and they strike a cultural chord in India, where a woman is often defined by her ability to be a wife and mother. While there are no reliable statistics for how many Indian women undergo fertility treatments each year at what age, tens of thousands of IVF clinics have sprouted up in the country over the last decade.

Fertility specialists say pregnancies like Kaur’s are troubling because of the potential health risks and the concern that the parents may not live long enough to raise their babies to adulthood. Legislation is pending in India’s Parliament setting 50 as the legal upper age cap.

But Dr. Anurag Bishnoi, the driving force behind the National Fertility and Test Tube Baby Centre in Hisar, harbors no such worries. His clinic’s website home page is dominated by photographs of patients who carried babies to term at ages well beyond what most other doctors anywhere in the world may permit. At least two of his patients gave birth at 70.

For Kaur, it’s simple enough. Bishnoi made her belong.

“You have no idea how I suffered,” she says of her life before her daughter.

Kaur married her husband, Gurdev Singh, when she was 18 and he was just a little older than 20. She simply assumed that children would follow marriage. But no children came.

She felt worthless.

“I asked God why he had abandoned me,” she says, as she nervously fidgets with the green scarf she uses to cover her almost entirely-grey hair.

With each decade she felt the dream slip further away. The couple tried IVF twice in their 40s. It didn’t work.

A woman in Kaur’s setting, without a child, is an inauspicious creature. Her very presence is shunned at social gatherings, especially at weddings and birth ceremonies which celebrate fecundity.

It was Kaur’s nephew who first heard of Bishnoi, the doctor in the nearby town of Hisar, who had built a prosperous medical practice and tidy little business empire by helping aging women across north India have children through in-vitro fertilization.


“Doctor Sahib was like a god to us, Singh says.”

Dr. Anurag Bishnoi is called many things. God and quack top the list.

His critics accuse the embryologist of making money off the dreams of the desperate, and of taking wildly unnecessary risks. When Bishnoi helped a 70-year-old woman to give birth last April, Dr. Hrishikesh Pai, who heads a federation of Indian gynecologists and obstetricians, called him a “rogue doctor” who ignores the self-imposed guidelines that most fertility specialists follow.

Dr. Narendra Malhotra, who heads the Indian Society For Assisted Reproduction, says Bishnoi has been attempting to “play God.”

“We don’t endorse making mothers out of grandmothers,” he says. “It’s too risky for the women. Their bodies are not designed to bear children after 50.”

He says his association has requested that Bishnoi stop working with significantly older women, with no success.

“He’s not breaking any law because there is no law,” Malhotra says.

Most medical ethics guidelines around the world recommend a cut-off between 45 and 50 for treatments like IVF, and the Indian Medical Council sets 45 as the recommended age limit. Across the United States and most parts of Western Europe, insurance companies usually stop paying for IVF treatment after 45.

Every now and then, news reports pop up about women across the world giving birth in their 50s and 60s but most doctors offering assisted reproductive treatments to women over 50 do it on the down low. But Bishnoi doesn’t hesitate to promote his work.

Bishnoi says he chooses his patients after a series of medical examinations and has never had a patient die.

For older patients like Kaur, who make up 20 percent of his practice, Bishnoi harvests eggs from anonymous donors, but in a deeply patriarchal culture, what really matters is that the sperm belongs to the father. He likens his patients to the military.

“They are soldiers of their family,” he says. “And of course the risks involved are there, but soldiers don’t care.”

The packed waiting room at Bishnoi’s clinic bears witness to the fact that working-class families across the country are willing to spend their limited savings for a child of their own. The cost of IVF treatment in India is relatively low, even though many families have to pay on their own. At Bishnoi’s clinic, one cycle of IVF costs about 110,000 rupees ($1,700), compared to about $12,000 in the U.S.

Gurdev Singh says the money was nothing. “What matters is that he gave us our little doll.”

Kaur and Singh say they feel no fear and anxiety about raising their child at an age when most people are grandparents.

“This is all God’s will,” Singh says.

Kaur says she has no trouble at all taking care of her daughter. In fact, she is already thinking of trying IVF again to give Gurjeet a sibling. She waits, impatiently, for the day when she can talk to her child.

“One day when she is older, she will share my joys and sorrows,” Kaur says. “She will ask me, ‘Mummy, how did you pass the days before I came?'”

During an event with Ivanka Trump, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pledged $100million to the First Daughter’s proposed Women Entrepreneurs Fund – on the same weekend her father signed a record arms deal with the Saudis.

The fund, which Ivanka first proposed during her trip to Berlin, Germany, will be run by the World Bank to help female entrepreneurs with the capital and networking resources necessary to kick start their businesses.

Saudi Arabia is known as the world’s most gender-segregated nation and women, who are famously barred from driving, live under the supervision of a male guardian.

During a roundtable on women’s economic empowerment, Ivanka praised Saudi Arabia’s progress but said ‘there’s still a lot of work to be done’

Ivanka, who is accompanying her father on his first international trip as president, said: ‘As a female leader within the Trump administration, my focus is to help empower women in the United States and around the globe.’

News of Ivanka’s fund broke in April, when she took up German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s invitation to attend the Women’s 20 Summit and pitched the idea to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

The $100million will be geared specifically towards women in the Middle East, and Kim said the money would be counted towards a $1billion women’s empowerment fund the World Bank hopes to announce at July’s G-20 Summit. 

While the money will be controlled by World Bank and not Ivanka, critics were quick to raise President Trump’s repeated attacks on the Clinton Foundation during the presidential campaign.

Saudi Arabia donated between $10 and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to its website – which Donald Trump called ‘pay for play donations’ during the campaign. None of the donations were made while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.


Walmart says it will ask a customer to no longer shop at their stores after she was caught on video hurling racial abuse at other customers in Bentonville, Arkansas, Monday.

The video posted to Facebook on Monday night showed a woman telling one customer to “go back to Mexico” and calling another customer a racial epithet. This video has been shared hundreds of thousands of times on the social network.

Eva Hicks, a mother of three, said she politely asked the woman to step to one side as she reached for medicine. It was then the woman became aggressive, Hicks told CNN.

“She moved back her cart and immediately started saying that people bother her on every aisle, and started saying more hateful things to me,” Hicks recounted and then took out her phone and began to record the encounter.

The woman, who has not been identified, told Hicks to “go back to Mexico” and accused her of being rude.

“I have never experienced anything like that in my life,” Hicks said. “Nobody has ever talked to me like that, I felt very insulted and unwanted.”

Hicks, originally from Mexico City, says she has been living in the United States for more than 30 years.

In the video she tells the woman that this is her home. “It’s not your country, we don’t want you here,” the woman retorted.

“I am an American citizen, I consider this home. I am not going to leave, I am going to stay here, I am not going to shut up, I am going to speak up,” Hicks said Wednesday, adding that she posted the video to Facebook to raise awareness.

“I have seen a lot of these incidents lately, I believe ever since the Trump administration came into power, he can say hateful things to other races and other countries, these people think it’s okay for them to do the same.”

In a statement posted online Walmart said it had “no tolerance for the language or actions” of the customer and commended the staff member seen in the video, saying he acted appropriately by asking the woman to leave.

A Walmart spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday that they were working to identify the woman and “once identified we will ask she no longer shops at our stores.”

Hicks said she hopes to meet the woman who came to her defense and was subsequently called the N-word.

“I don’t know her, I am supposed to meet her today,” she said. “I want to meet her to say thank you and just give her a hug.”

Source: FOX 5

Hundreds of protesters recently took to the streets of Pretoria, angered by a rise in violence against women and children in South Africa, including killings and sex attacks.

Answering the call by a group calling itself “Not In My Name” the protesters, most of them men, marched through the streets of the South African capital behind a woman symbolically dressed head to toe in white.

“The time to take collective responsibility for our shameful action is now,” said Kholofelo Masha, one of the protest organisers, who described himself as “a loving dad, brother and uncle”.

South African men have remained quiet on the issue for too long, he added: “You hear a lady screaming next door, you decide to sleep when you know there is a problem… No man should beat a woman or rape a woman while you’re watching”.

Reports of the rape and murder of women and girls have been front-page news recently in South Africa, which has some of the worst crime rates in the world.

According to official figures, a woman is killed by someone she knows every eight hours somewhere in the country and one woman in five has been subjected to at least one act of violent aggression in her life.

The killing of Reeva Steenkamp by her boyfriend, Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, drew global attention to the issue of domestic violence in South Africa.

South African President Jacob Zuma recently visited the home of the parents of a three-year-old girl who was raped and killed.

“We as the citizens of this country must say enough is enough,” Zuma said. “This is one of the saddest incidents I’ve come across. It’s a crisis in the country, the manner in which women and children are being killed.”

The ruling African National Congress has called the wave of violent acts “senseless and barbaric” while the main opposition the Democratic Alliance party, has denounced the “failure to make South Africa safe for all,” and has called for a national debate on the problem.



Source: AFP news agency


UN Women and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) will convene an expert group meeting from 30 to 31 May at UN Headquarters in New York, to discuss “Strategies to Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls through the Gender-responsive Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

The two-day expert group meeting is taking place in the lead up to the High Level Political Forum (HLPF), an intergovernmental platform that provides political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development and reviews the progress on SDG implementation.

The meeting will gather representatives from governments, UN entities, civil society and other organizations to explore good practices, challenges and lessons learned in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal  5 on gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, as well as linkages between SDG 5 and other SDGs.

The 2017 HLPF, scheduled to be held from 10 – 19 July, under the theme of “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world” will review the following set of SDGs: SDG 1, on ending poverty; SDG 2, on ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition; SDG 3, on ensuring healthy lives and wellbeing; SDG 5, on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls; SDG 9, on building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation; SDG 14, on conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources; and SDG 17, on revitalizing the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development. 

In addition, 44 countries will present voluntary national reviews on their implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, Yannick Glemarec, will participate at the fifth Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (24-26 May) in Cancun, Mexico, which will convene more than 5,000 delegates to discuss how to prevent disasters and reduce the loss of lives, as well as economic and infrastructure losses.

Disasters affect women, girls, boys and men differently. Research shows that women and girls are most vulnerable to disasters and more likely to die than men in disasters—for instance, at the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, women and children made up 77 per cent of the victims in Indonesia. At the same time, women and girls have unique roles in resilience building, disaster response and recovery. They are often the first responders when disaster strikes, tending to the needs of their families and communities and coping with the adverse impact on their livelihood and possessions.

During the event, UN Women will launch its new flagship programme “Gender Inequality of Risk”, in partnership with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) to reduce the loss of lives and livelihoods and to enhance the resilience of communities to natural hazards in a changing climate.


The launch event will be opened by the UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed, followed by a video address by Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland, and a keynote speech by Inonge M.Wina, Vice President of the Zambia, among other high-level participants.

The new partnership will open channels for women’s leadership and participation in disaster risk reduction and resilience building. The programme will also aim to support women’s access to recovery services and products such as micro insurance, disaster compensation and social protection; help them adapt to alternative livelihoods that can withstand hazards; and ensure that women are better prepared when disaster strikes by increasing their access to early warning instruments and protection systems. It will also work towards an increased availability and quality of gender disaggregated data.

Deputy Executive Director Glemarec will also take part in the “Sendai Framework Monitor Prototype Consultation” special session, featuring a presentation of the Sendai Framework Monitor prototype. The experiences of countries and one regional intergovernmental entity, which piloted the prototype, will be shared.

Source: UN Women

Dr. Gloria Bonder is the Director of the Department of Gender, Society and Policies of the Latin American Postgraduate Institute of Social Sciences (FLACSO Argentina). She coordinates two regional programmes including the UNESCO Regional Chair on Women, Science and Technology in Latin America and the e-learning master’s programme on Gender, Society and Public Policies.  

Bonder is the coordinator of the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender. Since 2014, she has coordinated the region’s activities in the global GenderInSITE programme, through her role as the UNESCO Regional Chair. The programme aims to influence policies and policy makers in science, technology, innovation and engineering, to integrate gender equality principles and goals.

She is a researcher and consultant on Women, Science and Technology for several national, regional and international organisations such as: Minister of Science and Technology in Argentina, United Nations, Women and Development Unit, ECLAC and the Office of Science and Technology, UNICEF, UNIFEM, UNDP and UNESCO, among others.

Bonder has developed several research projects on gender issues and/in technology and science, education, communication, health and youth, and published books and articles both national and international.

She is a member of the advisory board of UN Women for Latin America and the Caribbean and WISAT (Women in Global Science and Technology). 

Prof. Bonder was distinguished by UNESCO as one of the 60 women worldwide who has helped accomplish the organization’s goals throughout the 60 years of its existence, representing the voices, aspirations, and visions of many women around the world.   

In 2015 she was elected member of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development.