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Outsourced labour: international surrogacy and women’s rights

Ashlee Betteridge writes on international surrogacy, and whether commercial surrogacy in a poor, developing country can ever be a fair or acceptable option.

“…the voice that we perhaps most need to hear in this debate is the voice of women who work as surrogates. As governments scramble for answers, both in developed and developing countries, it is this voice that is missing from policy debates.”

Read the full post.

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Global Gag Plus, family planning and Australian aid

Ashlee Betteridge and Camilla Burkot write on the US decision to reinstate the Global Gag Rule, and urge Australia not to follow suit.

‘Australia must stay strong and stick to the current family planning guidelines that put women’s empowerment at the forefront. It should also consider increasing the percentage of aid spending that goes towards family planning and sexual and reproductive health to fill the vacuum that will be left as US aid-funded programs are forced to end. Since the Global Gag Plus executive order was signed, the Dutch government has announced the establishment of a global abortion fund to help fill the gap, for which Belgium has indicated its support and Canada has also expressed interest. Perhaps this is an initiative that Australia too should consider supporting.’

Read the full blog.

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Wonder Women aren’t (just) the stuff of fiction

Camilla Burkot and Ashlee Betteridge discuss the UN appointment of Wonder Woman as an ambassador for gender equality.

‘Why celebrate a cartoon character when there are so many real life women heroes (or, should we say, sheroes)? And why resort to tokenism via an online mascot when there are so many avenues for real and meaningful change left for the UN to pursue, both within its own halls and in the wider world?

It’s 2016. Gender equality shouldn’t need to draw on fictional characters to find a message. If Wonder Woman can attract some attention to gender equality among the noise (and abuse) online, perhaps that’s OK, but the real women of the real world need real power — not just a superhuman mascot to cheer for them.’

Read the full blog.

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Coverage of cuts to Australian Volunteer program in 2015 budget

Ashlee analysed the impact of the 30 per cent cut to the Australian Volunteers for International Development in the 2015 Federal Budget on the Devpolicy Blog.

In an analysis piece, she looked at what the cut could mean for the future of the program.

Consolidation seems to be the only logical step. But even then, hard decisions will be needed: fewer volunteers to Asia or fewer to the Pacific? If cost is the criterion – and it is hard to see why it wouldn’t be – the Pacific is bound to lose out.”

Read the full post here.

Ashlee also covered updates on the program post-budget on the blog–see below.

Red Cross no longer sending AVID volunteers
More details on the Australian Volunteers cuts

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Why is Timor-Leste trying to restrict the media?

This blog post analyses the proposed media law in Timor-Leste, which some commentators fear threatens press freedom, in the context of the wider challenges facing the Timor-Leste media.

In a context of increasing concern around corruption and public spending, the arguments of the government about the law being necessary for quality ring hollow, as does the reasoning that the law will enshrine journalism as a profession with protections.

This law will not solve the quality challenge facing the Timor press. New voices, increased competition and stronger demands from audiences are probably the best hopes, and they cannot be legislated into existence.

Instead, there is a real threat of increasing self-censorship by publications and individual journalists to mitigate their financial and legal risk in the face of the new sanctions that can be imposed under the law, and a real threat to the freedom and diversity of the Timor-Leste media.

Ashlee Betteridge

Read the full post on the Devpolicy Blog.