Sunday, October 16, 2005

Gender Matters: UNPFA State of the World Report 2005

Here’s a sobering fact--since the 2000 UN Millennium Summit, conflict has exploded in over 40 countries. The consequences of which most acutely impact women and children who are killed, raped and sold into slavery. But there is good news, thanks to the Millennium Development Goals’ explicit emphasis on gender equality; countries have rightfully spotlighted issues related to women and children to an unprecedented degree—specifically through improved access to education for girls. Why this emphasis on education? Because research has found that women who have at least a secondary level education are more likely to raise healthier, more educated children. Educated women seek prenatal care, immunize their children, provide better nutrition and begin having children at a later date than uneducated women. Every three years of additional education means one less kid per woman. Every year of mothers’ education corresponds to 5 to 10 percent lower mortality rates in children under five. What this translates into is that education of women does not simply benefit women; it ripples out to the entire family, the community, the nation.

The new United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) report entitled, State of the World 2005 has found a similar trend in addressing poverty. It states that addressing women’s poverty is key to eradicating poverty. Studies have shown that rural women contribute to 60 to 80 percent of food production in developing countries. Furthermore, this output would increase up to 20 percent if women had equal access and control over farm income, agricultural services and land. Sustainable development cannot occur without women’s voices and autonomy.


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