by Amanda Roach, program assistant, International Programs
In 2012, and for the first time in history, women held 20 percent of seats in the world’s national governing bodies (parliaments and congresses), nearly doubling since 1997, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). However, these gains were spread disproportionately among the world’s nations and the progress has been too slow to achieve the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal 3 of equal representation for women by 2015.
This is the sixth in a series of blogs posts on the Sixth Joint Annual Meetings of the ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development; and AU Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance.
by Jay Gribble, vice president, International Programs
It’s worth noting that African nations have signed a number of regional proclamations and agreements that support the health and well-being of their people. A speaker on youth reminded the audience that the African Union has put forward a number of agreements that support youth labor programs; the Abuja agreement calls for countries putting 15 percent of their budgets into health; another speaker pointed out that Africa has numerous agreements that support maternal and child health. But what difference do these agreements really make?
As I reflect on the number of policies, agreements, and declarations that have been signed into existence, I can’t help but wonder why progress on social and economic development is so slow. Why sign so many declarations if there isn’t the political will to carry them out? One thing we have learned from work in policy and advocacy efforts is that there is no substitute for political commitment. Historically, we saw it in Thailand and South Korea; today we see it in Rwanda and Malawi. Leaders must step up and speak out in favor of the issues that they are supporting through these declarations.
This is the fifth in a series of blogs posts on the Sixth Joint Annual Meetings of the ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development; and AU Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance.
by Jay Gribble, vice president, International Programs
Listening to participants at the expert meeting on industrialization for Africa, I’m struck by the fact that so much of the discussion focuses on economic development but there is little or no mention of the relationship that social development plays in the process. Talk about jobs creation, becoming middle-income countries, and increasing GNI per capita is important, but for many of these things to take place, nations will need to look at some of the underlying social issues that drive the desired economic growth. Our discussions about the demographic dividend—a model for economic development—have highlighted a number of issues related to social development, and we must not lose sight of how interrelated social development is with economic development.
This is the third in a series of blogs posts on the Sixth Joint Annual Meetings of the ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development; and AU Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance.
by Jay Gribble, vice president, International Programs
It’s interesting to look at the head table where the presenters of this technical session are seated. I’m amazed that it’s nine men. How is it that every presenter is a man, when we are talking about issues like girls’ education, family planning, and child survival—all interventions that are influenced and largely implemented by women? I don’t doubt that having men speak about these issues can be persuasive—especially to other male ministers and experts—but giving a voice to both women and men is critical to fostering the dialogue about social and economic development.
by Kristen Devlin, program associate, International Programs
Drawing upon experience in international affairs, youth issues, and sub-Saharan Africa, Gry Larsen, Norway’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, delivered the opening words at the Seventh Annual Conference on Population, Reproductive Health, and Economic Development that took place recently in Oslo, Norway. In her address, she emphasized to an audience of researchers the importance that research has in developing a strong knowledge base for making sound policy decisions. Research should be considered a common platform for good discussion about important social issues.
Photo: Gry Larsen.
Larsen’s opening was thoughtful not only because it set the tone for this Population and Poverty “PopPov” Network conference by addressing the connections between population research and policy outcomes, but she also adeptly connected the issues central to the Population and Poverty (PopPov) research network—women’s empowerment, access to health care and services, and poverty reduction— to her home country, Norway. PopPov issues, she said, are close to Norway’s heart.
by Rachel Yavinsky, policy associate, International Programs
After 45 minutes on Lake Victoria in a wooden fishing boat, my PRB colleague and I arrived on Busi Island, one of the Ugandan sites of the HoPE-LVB (Health of People and the Environment-Lake Victoria Basin) project. PRB, who partners on this project, came to Busi Island to see HoPE-LVB in action. Pathfinder International is an implementer on the project.
The growing population of the island (currently about 40,000 people), combined with the cutting of wood for sale to the mainland, is diminishing fuel resources and increasing the amount of time that women must spend collecting firewood. The main sources of living on the island are fishing and small-scale agriculture. Almost all households rely on wood for cooking, so I was particularly impressed with the project’s work with energy-saving stoves.
Busi Island, one of the Ugandan sites of the HoPE-LVB. Photo: Rachel Yavinsky/PRB.
I visited two homes that are serving as HoPE-LVB model households, meaning that they practice sustainable agriculture and resource planning, have additional livelihood sources such as livestock and home gardens, and have healthy understanding of reproductive health and family planning. Read the rest of this entry »
Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is an issue that impacts aid workers—not just beneficiaries and not just staff that works in GBV settings. This post examines agencies’ duty to care for their workers by preventing and responding to GBV.
The sexual assault of the journalists Lara Logan, Mona Eltahawy, and two unnamed British and French journalists in Egypt, shocked the world and brought the issue of gender-based violence (GBV) against Westerners working in the developing world to the forefront. Global statistics show that 1 out of 3 women has experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault and it’s not only “the locals” being affected*. Not only are journalists at risk but also aid staffers working in conflict settings or GBV program areas.
by Kate Gilles, policy analyst, International Programs
A direct consequence of prenatal sex selection is that fewer girls are born relative to the number of boys born. In some countries, the situation is becoming more extreme, and dramatic reductions in the numbers of girls born have led to a “scarcity” of women. Some argue that these reductions can have positive outcomes for women because following the law of “supply and demand,” their value will increase as their numbers shrink. In fact, the opposite may prove to be true.
The problem with the “supply and demand” argument is that it overlooks the gender norms and social realities of sex selection. In patriarchal societies where sex selection is practiced, men hold the power. A woman’s life is more often controlled by her father, brother, or husband than by the woman herself. In these settings, a woman’s value is perceived not in terms of her worth as an individual but as a family possession or asset. Under these conditions, a shortage of women does not miraculously lead to greater freedom and empowerment for women, but rather to increased subjugation—and potentially—abuse, as men tighten their control over an increasingly valuable commodity.
by Alexandra Hervish, policy analyst, International Programs
On October 11, we are celebrating the first International Day of the Girl—a movement to speak out against gender bias and advocate for girls’ rights across the globe. Given that there is already an International Women’s Day in March as well as many ongoing efforts to raise the visibility of global women’s issues, one might ask, is it necessary to devote an entire day to the girl child? The answer to that question is a resounding yes.
Although the global community recognizes that most women experience discrimination and inequality early in life, the International Day of the Girl provides an opportunity to examine the unique vulnerabilities girls face due their age as well as the lack of power over their lives. Considering that adolescent girls make up nearly 20 percent of the population in the developing world but are often excluded from civil society, livelihood opportunities, health care on the basis of gender and age, and investments in this group are critical to help nations achieve gender equality, break the cycle of poverty, and support sustainable development today and for future generations.
In honor of Mother’s Day, the Gender-Based Violence Task Force of the Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG) held a May 10th event on “Maternal Health and Gender-Based Violence: Research on and Responses to Service Provider Abuse in Childbirth and Intimate Partner Violence During Pregnancy” at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The event featured two panels; the first was an overview of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) during pregnancy and of service provider abuse during labor and delivery, and the second panel focused on ongoing interventions and approaches to the issue.
Presenters on the first panel included Sunita Kishor of ICF International, Diana Bowser of the Harvard School of Public Health, and Neal Brandes of USAID’s Office of Health, Infectious Diseases, and Nutrition. Attendees learned the results of studies on IPV or caregiver abuse during labor and delivery. Providing a base of qualitative and quantitative data, the individual panelists were able to convey the prevalence and urgency of such frequently overlooked issues.
The second panel consisted of Michele Kiely of the National Institutes of Health, Kristin Savard of the White Ribbon Alliance, Nancy Termini of the Population Council, and Ariel Frisancho of CARE Peru. The presenters provided snapshots into current programs geared toward stopping and preventing IPV and abuse during labor and delivery, which included a mix of awareness campaigns and interventions.
Presentations and more information on the event are available on the IGWG website.
Check out a short video of the event with reflections from some of the presenters: