Thursday, May 23, 2013

Women hold the keys to beating poverty

Estimates range to a high of 70 per cent in calculating how many of the world’s poor people are women, write Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson on their new website.

In many cases, these women are responsible for the farming that feeds the family.

Yet in many African countries, they are barred from holding title to land, and therefore the ability to borrow money to improve their farming.

Girls are also less likely to be granted opportunities to attend school, but are put to work sharing the load borne by their mothers.

A third of women are sexually abused.

In March, Olivier de Schutter, the United Nations” Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, released a report he wrote called “Gender and the Right to Food.”

He called for more work be done to eliminate discrimination against women at household and state levels alike.

From May 28th to May 30th the organization Women Deliver will host their annual conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where international leaders in the women’s movement will discuss solutions to address these challenges facing women across the world, say Nierenberg and Gustafson.

This is an opportunity for the world to take notice and to be reminded that there are only 1,000 days left to reach the Millenium Development Goals that call for a number of global improvements, such as halving the number of people without enough food, an end to extreme poverty and hunger, wiping out malaria and HIV/AIDS and empowering women and promoting gender equality.

“Overcoming hunger is a game changer for a girl living in a developing country,” writes Gustafson.

“Fifty-three percent of children who drop out of primary school are female – mainly because they need to work to help feed their families.

“Girls who stay in school are empowered to make positive decisions that affect their entire lives, such as waiting to have children and acquiring the skills they need to support to them,” she writes.

According to the Women Deliver organization, if the international community spent an additional $12 billion US per year, women around the world would be able to receive sufficient family planning and maternal and newborn care.

“By reducing deaths of mothers and infants, such an investment would lead to $15 billion US in gained productivity.

“In addition to investing in health, investment in economic opportunities for women, particularly in the agriculture sector in developing countries, is crucial.

Research from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that if women had the same access to resources that men have, global malnutrition could be reduced by at least 12 percent,” they write.

I'd like to remind those who dig in their heels to continue trade protection for supply management that reducing trade barriers would be multiple times more helpful to poor people than all of the international aid provided for relief and development.

The Canadian supply-management sector ought to be ashamed of the role it has played in stalling the World Trade negotiations which are specifically designed to address agriculture issues and the needs of poor people in poor nations.