Category Archives: millennium development goals

Behind every world leader is a mum. Mums matter.

First published for Oxfam at http://tinyurl.com/2vosq4b

Hasina Begum, 35, stands in the river which took her home, Char Atra, Bangladesh.

Hasina Begum, 35, stands in the river which took her home, Char Atra, Bangladesh.

Not enough money to feed your children. Fear, uncertainty, loneliness.

“It is women who suffer”, she said.

This is not an advert for a development charity, but Gail Cartmail of Unite union talking about how government cuts here will affect people.

Disproportionately the poor, in particular women, mothers.

Despite us all owing our lives to them, world leaders are forgetting mothers, daughters, girls, still, across the globe.

A thousand women die from pregnancy complications each day, for every woman who dies, 30 more suffer chronic illness or disability.

Preventable deaths

Ten years ago our leaders pledged to eliminate extreme poverty by 2015, with eight Millennium Development Goals.

At the MDG summit in New York next week, it is the fifth and worst performing goal, to improve maternal health, that international charities are pushing.

Although more than 90 per cent of maternal deaths are preventable, pregnancy remains a leading killer in developing countries.

Nick Clegg, who will be attending the conference, has now committed the government to focussing on MDG 5.

Women in Nepal are campaigning against domestic violence

Women in Nepal are campaigning against domestic violence

In Afghanistan- the world’s worst place to give birth– one woman dies every half an hour due to pregnancy related complications.

Clegg told the Guardian action would double the number of women and newborns saved (at least 50,000 women in pregnancy and childbirth, 250,000 babies) and allow 10 million couples to access family planning.

This is in addition to June’s G8 summit commitment to spend £750m on tackling maternal mortality and an overhaul of aid programmes.

Gendercide

A book by Nicholas Kristof, columnist for the New York Times and his wife WuDunn called Half the Sky details some of the other horrors still facing women in the 21st century.

With 60 to 100 million women missing, honour killings, acid attacks and sex slavery they call the current situation “gendercide”. Millennnium Development Goal 3, to promote gender equality and empower women, must not be overlooked.

According to Equality Now, in Somalia, 98 per cent of girls have their genitals mutilated.

Less shocking, but equally damaging, says Kristof, is the exclusion of women from healthcare and education.

Unlawful?

Despite harrowing stories internationally, mothers continue to suffer.

The Fawcett Society has requested a judicial review into the emergency budget in June; they say 72 per cent of cuts will be met from women’s incomes.

“Many of the cuts are to the benefits that more women than men rely on, and the changes to the tax system will benefit far more men,” they said.

Ahead of the spending review in October, newspapers are also reporting that women will lose.

More women work in the civil service, and some departments will be cut by 40 per cent.

According to a report released by the Chartered Management Institute, the gender pay gap in the UK will not close until 2067.

Nearly the same amount of time since the Equal Pay Act first legislated against sex discrimination in the workplace.

The CMI is calling for transparency, Mike Petrook said: “People should not be discriminated against because of one letter on a birth certificate, it’s the job that earns the money, not the individuals.

“If companies don’t do this, they will lose their best talent as they are not reflecting the market place.”

Dangerous and unpaid

Unpaid work done by women is thought to contribute billions to the UK economy every year.

In Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, unofficial care work accounts for more than 80 per cent of all women’s jobs.

Almost two thirds of women in the developing world work in dangerous, low-paid or temporary jobs.

Centenary of National Women’s Day

Next year on March 8th we will celebrate 100 years of National Women’s Day. But how far have we come?

Two out of every three countries now have the same number of boys as girls in school, and women now occupy almost 40 per cent of paid jobs outside of farming, compared to 35 in 1990.

Sri Lanka, Thailand and Honduras all took fewer than 10 years to dramatically improve women’s chances of surviving pregnancy. Thanks to some progress on this MDG the percentage of global deliveries attended by a midwife or doctor has risen from 9 per cent to 19.

We ought to celebrate reducing the number of women dying during childbirth from 1,400 to 1,000 a day. But that is still a third of a million every year to save.

Mums matter

There are now more people called David than there are women in the British cabinet. Women across the globe are still unequal and unheard.

Join:

Oxfam and the Women’s Institute now work together on maternal mortality, and they need your support.

Read:

Half the Sky is from a Chinese proverb, where women are said to be so important as to hold up half the sky

Be positive:

Suffragettes hadn’t known anything other than political inferiority, but they didn’t give up. According to the CMI, women in the UK are resigning in record numbers from positions where they aren’t treated the same as their male colleagues.

If we accept that the most well off countries must help those who are less fortunate, it is up to us, as women in relative comfort, to find the strength to help our sisters who are in greater need.

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When are we going to eliminate the future need for aid?

First published for Oxfam at http://tinyurl.com/39qnh6a

Promises are like babies: easy to make, hard to deliver

The UK, under Blair and Brown came out of the 2005 G8 summit at Gleneagles with renewed hope of all G8 nations (minus Russia) finally delivering a generation-old promise of spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on aid.

Lost tourists or world leaders?

Lost tourists or world leaders?

But it appears that some of the wealthiest nations in the world had no intention of keeping it, and others will not be able to.

David Cameron, the new boy at the helm, has not managed what many believe Gordon Brown would have- to hold these failing G8 nations accountable.

France and Germany have managed only a quarter of their pledges, and Italy has actually reduced the amount of aid it gives by sixty per cent.

Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy as Lady Marian and Sheriff of Nottingham at the G8 in Canada

Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy as Lady Marian and Sheriff of Nottingham at the G8 in Canada

Max Lawson of Oxfam said: “This year the headline is maternal health, last year it was food; every year we get a new G8 initiative.

”But with overall aid flatlining, they are just moving money around.”

While it is easy to look on it as a disaster, a huge blow for those who campaigned on the streets in 2005 to ‘Make Poverty History’, the G8 is merely an informal grouping, labelled “increasingly ineffective” by the Guardian.

Does this prove that this is not the place to hold governments to account, and that the UK, with its diminishing status on the world stage, is not the country to do it?

Still, the last five years have not been without success.

ONE, the organisation set-up by Bono to monitor progress on the promises made at Gleneagles said in its annual report that with 93 per cent, the UK has almost met its target.

Canada and Japan will both exceed their admitedly modest pledges, and the US will boost aid by more than 150 per cent.

Thanks to international financial support to its health budget, Mozambique has seen the number of mothers dying in childbirth falling by more than 50 per cent since 1995.

In Ghana, because of financial aid for development put to good use, the government abolished all primary school fees in 2003. Over two academic years, 1.2 million more children were able to go to school.

More aid than ever, if not enough, is going to Africa; by pushing for “smarter aid” and promoting “good governance” results are coming through; there are more and more examples of African civil society groups reclaiming the right for African people to prosper.

For example Fair Play for Africa is a pan-african coalition of over 200 organisations from 10 African countries campaigning to make sure that health for all becomes a reality for all Africans. African civil society is growing at least as much African economies are.

David Cameron was quick to say he would narrow the remit of the G8 when the UK hosts it again in 2013. Could this be a shrewd indication that the G20, with its increased membership is better placed for the 21st century?

I think so. Instead of assuming defeat, the new focus on the G20, and the UN’s 2015 goals, will ensure this progress has not been in vain.If we look at the future, with developing nations powering ahead despite the recession, the OECD predicts that “by 2030 developing countries will account for nearly 60 per cent of world GDP”.

Ban Ki-moon, speaking ahead of the September UN Summit to discuss the 2015 Millennium Development Goals is incredibly positive that the world is still on target to cut in half incidence of extreme poverty.

But, he also admitted, “that improvements in the lives of the poor have been unacceptably slow, and some hard-won gains are being eroded by the climate, food and economic crises”.

While the G8 appears to have been read its rites, poverty isn’t history.Today there is a food crisis in West Africa threatening the lives of more than 7 million people, the same as the population of the North West of England.

In this area, Niger, the world’s poorest country has a GDP of £3.6 billion. The North West in the UK alone has a GDP of £120 billion.

Aid is still greatly needed, and much has been promised. Its ultimate goal, as Mo Ibraheim, a Sudanese-born British telecoms mogul, told ONE, is probably to “eliminate the future need for aid”.