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Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

Progress at Snail’s Pace since Beijing

In Women's Health on May 3, 2010 at 11:50 am

Melanne Verveer, the U.S. Ambassador at large for global women’s issues at the Department of State, delivered a sobering message on the progress of women’s health at the Penn-ICOWHI’s groundbreaking 18th Conference April 7-10 in Philadelphia.

There have been few advances in making women’s health worldwide since the 1995 international conference on women’s issues in Beijing, she said.

“The progress since Beijing on women’s health has not been as significant as other areas,” said Verveer who delayed an overseas trip to attend the conference as the keynote speaker.

Among the alarming statistics she cited:

  • AIDs remains the leading cause of death among women age 15-44 worldwide. “Today the face of AIDs is the face of a woman,” she said.
  • Unacceptable high rate of maternal death linked to early forced marriages, lack of education, lack of access to health services.
  • Adolescent girls are the most vulnerable. They represent high risk for early pregnancy, birth rate highest among them.
  • A woman in Africa has a 1 in 26 chance of dying in childbirth; in developing nations, it is 1 in 7,500.
  • More than 500,000 women worldwide die in childbirth every year.

But there is good news, too.

  • The prevention of mother to child HIV transmission is increasing dramatically because of new drugs.
  • The age of marriage has been raised around the world.
  • More girls are in school.
  • Violence against women is being criminalized in many countries.

Nevertheless, Verveer said there is plenty of work to do to make the lives of women and girls better, increase their access to health care and expand their life expectancies.

“When women and girls have access to health care services, they are valued more, they are educated. They are likely to have smaller families,” she said. “The most effective development investments that can be made are those made for women.”

Improving access to health care for women improves the family, the community and a nation’s productivity, she added.

“Our work is far from done,” she said. “Women’s rights are human rights, and we cannot settle for anything less.”

As simple as toilets and housing

In Women's Health on March 15, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Women around the world face a myriad of health issues that are best-served by gender-specific responses to issues such as cancer, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and depression.

We’ve gathered an ‘A’ list of experts to talk about these issues, how they are exasperated for urban dwellers and what steps to take to deal with it.

Among the speakers is Sheela Patel, the founder and Director of Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centers, an NGO established in 1984 to address the problems of women pavement dwellers in Mumbai, India. Under Patel’s leadership, SPARC has been responsible for the construction of housing for over 8,500 families and over 500,000 toilets and latrines.

It sounds like something as simple as toilets and housing can solve women’s health problems, but Patel will talk about the difficult steps to get there to help thousands of poor women in India.

–         Judi Hasson