UNFPA Releases 2005 Report on Gender Equality and Poverty Links
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has released its 2005 report, highlighting the critical link between achieving gender equality and eradicating poverty. Entitled The Promise of Equality: Gender Equity, Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals, the report analyzes the current status of women and girls, particularly in developing areas, and suggests a “road map” of practical policies to improve the quality of life of women and girls, a necessary step to putting an end to poverty worldwide.
Speaking at the London launch of the report, UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid declared, “We cannot make poverty history until we stop violence against women and girls. . . until women enjoy their full social, cultural, economic and political rights.” A central focus of the report is reproductive health and rights, which emphasizes the importance of available, reliable contraceptives, preventable dangers that occur during pregnancy and labor, and protection from sexually transmitted diseases. According to the UNFPA, reproductive health problems are responsible for the loss of “more than 250 million years of productive life” worldwide. The UNFPA contends that “failure to [invest in women and young people] may entrench poverty for generations to come.” As reported in the summer 2003 issue of Ms., global reproductive health care is under funded by $7 billion each year.
When women suffer reproductive health problems, said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) at the Washington, DC report launch, “they lose any chance for their creativity to contribute to their country’s progress.”
The UNFPA is voluntarily funded by 166 countries, but the US is not among them. For four years in a row, the Bush administration has withheld $34 million in funding for UNFPA allocated by Congress, money which would comprise 12.5 percent of the UNFPA’s annual budget. According to the UNFPA, this money would help prevent 2 million unwanted pregnancies, 4,700 maternal deaths and 77,000 infant deaths annually.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .