Women, Gender Equality, and the Quality of Life

Gender Equality
Poverty and Hunger
Micro Credit
Exploitation of Children
   and Young Women
Human Development
Conferences and Speeches
How far we have come when women's sports capture the world's attention and imagination. As Newsweek's cover stated "Girls' Rule!" If it had been like that 30 years ago, we would not have needed UNFPA.

Dr. Nafis Sadik, July 20 1999 -celebrating Cairo + 5.

Gender Equality

  Equality, Equity and The Empowerment of Women

(prepared by the Communications Consortium)

Despite many international agreements affirming women's human rights, girls and women are still much more likely than men to be poor, malnourished and illiterate, and to have less access than men to medical care, property ownership, credit, traming and employment. They are far less likely than men to be politically active and far more likely to be victims of domestic violence.

Where women are poor, uneducated and have little participation in the wider society, family size tends to be large and the population growth rate high. Population and development programs are more effective when they center on improving the education, rights and status of women.

  • Childbearing has been women's chief source of security and status for centuries. This is still the case, especially where women are denied education, reproductive health care, secure livelihoods and full equal rights. Successful population and development programs must offer women options for their lives beyond childbearing.
  • Women in developing nations are usually in charge of securing water, food and fuel and of overseeing family health and diet. Therefore they tend to put into immediate practice whatever they learn about nutrition, preserving the environment and natural resources, and improving sanitation and health care.
  • Of the 960 million illiterate adults in the world, two thirds are female. Higher levels of women's education are strongly associated with both lower infant mortality and lower fertility In poor countries, every additional year of a woman's schooling is associated with a 5 to 10% decline in child deaths. 1
  • Children born to mothers below age 18 are 1.5 times more likely to die before age 5 than those born to mothers age 20 - 34. Yet three of every four teenage girls in Africa are mothers, and 40 percent of births there are to women under 17. 2
  • Programs that offer girls alternative life choices can help them stay in school and, consequently, delay childbearing. This lengthens the time span between generations. Such women tend also to have fewer children - three or four rather than six or more. 3
  • Laws and customs often deny women the right to own land, inherit property establish credit, receive training or move up in their field of work. Laws against domestic violence are often not enforced on behalf of women. Achieving gender equality in these areas will require the support of men who exercise most of the power in these spheres of life.
  • The involvement of men is critical to women's rights and to population policy success. In Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal, for example, men want between two and four more children than their wives do; in Cameroon, Mali and Senegal, fewer than half of men approve of family planning. Birthrates in those West African nations are higher than in most of East Africa, where with the exception of Tanzania, more than 90% of both men and women favor family planning. 4
  • The roles that men and women play in society are not biologically determined - they are socially determined. Often justified as required by culture or religion, they still vary widely by locality and change constantly; they are not immutable. Slavery, torture, and racial and ethnic prejudice are also centuries-old practices now rightly condemned worldwide when they involve people of color, political dissidents, Jews or other ethnic groups. Violations of women's human rights must receive the same international censure.
  • Because roles are deeply embedded social practices, programs are needed that work with young people to orient them toward gender equality

    The ICPD Programme of Action commits nations to:

  • Close the gender gap in education and political life; eliminate illiteracy and legal political and social barriers to women; and ensure equal representation of women in aid programs.
  • Combat violence against women and girls, including sexual violence.
  • Ratify all agreements that further women's rights.
  • Design programs for the aging that address the special needs of elderly women.
  • Urge employers to help workers manage their family and work responsibilities through flexible hours, parental leave, daycare facilities and so on.
  • Involve men in family planning and responsibilities and in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Ensure that children receive appropriate financial support by enforcing child support laws, among other things.
  • Enforce laws on minimum age of consent and marriage.
  • Eliminate female genital mutilation.
  • Provide adolescents not only with information and services, but also education and life choices.

    Sources: (1) UNFPA, "Population Issues Briefing Kit 1998," (New York: 1998); (2) Alan Guttmacher Institute, "Issues in Brief: Family Planning Improves Child Survival and Health" (Washington DC: Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1997), and Nafis Sadik, "Investing in Women: The Focus of the '90s," in Laurie Arm Mazur (ed.), Beyond the Numbers: A Reader on Population, Consumption and the Environment (Washington DC, Island Press, 1994); (3) Population Reference Bureau, A Citizen's Guide to the International Conference on Population and Development, 1993; (4) James E. Rosen and Shanti R. Conly, Africa's Population Challenge: Accelerating Progress in Reproductive Health (Washington DC: Population Action International, 1998).

    December 1998

    Ending Discrimination Against Girls
    Discrimination against girls and women is a persistent barrier to generational achievement. Several national declarations and treaties have labeled it a violation of human rights as well as a threat to development. Ending discrimination must be a priority worldwide.
    Communications Consortium Media Center

    Gender Equality Programs

    CEDAW - The Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women CEDAW, The Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, is generally considered an international bill of rights for women. Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981, CEDAW provides the basis for realizing equality between men and women through insuring equal access and equal opportunities in political and public life including the right to vote and to stand for election, the right to education and employment, and the right to equality in the areas of health care, economic, social, legal, marriage and family relations. CEDAW is the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women.

    Girl Scouts and Girl's Self-esteem   I am a former Brownie leader who was once castigated by angry parents for holding up a naked Barbie and telling the fourth-graders, "This is not a real woman. You are not supposed to look like this. I hear some of you talking about diets, and at your age, that's not cool. This doll's body can only be achieved with major cosmetic surgery. You are all perfect just the way you are." And I threw the Barbie in a garbage can. Parents said it was inappropriate. I told them, "No, the fact that your daughters is one of the girls drinking SlimFast for lunch is inappropriate. Her self-image is poor, and you need to do something." Recently, I was asked to address the Natl. Junior Honor Society, and the line that received the most applause (and foot-stomping appreciation) was this: "To all you girls: I hope you value yourselves and realize that what's inside your brain is a million times more important than what's painted on your face. And that having a boyfriend is not the only happiness you will have in life. And having a baby is not your only destiny." ....Amy is with Citizen's Environmental Coalition, a Western New York environmental group, and vocal and effective on a number of community and social issues.   May 12, 2003  Amy Liberatore 007248

    Educating Girls: Gender Gaps and Gains

    Women Watch  The UN Internet Gateway on the Advancement and Empowerment of Women

    CEDPA - Center For Development and Population Activies A woman-focused organization with a goal to empower women at all levels.

    International Women's Health Coalition

    Woman's Environment and Development Organization

    Delhi Commission for Women

    Aviva - reporting Women's Issues

    Women's Net of South Africa. Networking support programme designed to enable South African women to use the Internet to find the people, issues, resources and tools needed for women's social action. Includes a 'Prevention Violence Against Women' section.

    Women's Rights in the News

    U.N. Report: Women's Unequal Treatment Hurts Economies. Women throughout the world continue to be the victims of violence, sexual exploitation and discrimination -- at a considerable cost to their countries' economies, according to report from the U.N. Population Fund, entitled "State of the World Population 2000" Continuing discrimination against women constitutes "a massive violation of human rights that takes various forms around the globe." A 1% increase in female secondary schooling results in a 0.3% increase in economic growth. For example, in Pakistan the increased investment in education would have increase the country's economic growth by $262 million in 1999, excluding inflation, which was estimated at 6%. One in three women experience violence during her lifetime -- often by people she knows. Two million girls under age 15 are forced into the sex trade each year. Complications from pregnancy and childbirth kill 500,000 women each year. Stillbirths or newborn deaths total an estimated 8 million yearly. 80 million -- are unintended or unwanted. 20 million unsafe abortions occur each year, a quarter of those unsafe births are to girls between the ages 15 and 19. "Abused women tend not to use family planning services." A Ghana study showed that "close to half of all women and 43% of men said a man was justified in beating his wife if she used contraceptives without his expressed consent." Progress has been made, including: the ban of female genital mutilation in eight African nations. The adding of sexual and reproductive rights and gender equity to the new Venezuelan constitution. The approved sale of low-dosage oral contraceptives in Japan. Legislation to increase access to reproductive health services in Mexico and Peru. Albania, Burkina Faso, Fiji, Madagascar, Poland and the Sudan have all adopted measures to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. September 20, 2000 CNN

    UNICEF Report Outlines Global Epidemic of Domestic Violence.  (pdf) Five years after a conference in Beijing that called for global action to end violence against women, a new report, Domestic Violence Against Women and Girls, reveals that there are 60 million fewer women in the world today than would be expected. The discrepancy is attributed to sex-selective abortion, female infanticide, violent acts, and inferior access to food and medicine, and is most often found in South Asia, North Africa, the Middle East and China. Violence to women includes physical beatings, acid throwing, honor killings and lack of access to medical care. Such violence cuts across culture, class, education, income, ethnicity and age in every country. 20% to 50% of girls and women have experienced physical violence from a family member or intimate partner, and between 40% and 60% of known sexual assaults occur within the family and are committed against girls under age 16. Nearly 14 million women are infected with HIV, with the rate of infection rising. Often the infection comes from a regular partner and often negotiating safe sex is difficult. In Sri Lanka, the number of suicides among girls and women aged 15 - 24 is 55 times greater than the number of deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth. In Egypt, 35% of women surveyed said they were beaten by their husband at some point during their marriage; In Nicaragua, 52% of women said they were physically abused by a partner at least once; In South Korea, 38% of women said they were abused by their husband; and In the United States, 28% of women reported at least one incident of physical violence from an intimate partner. UNICEF says civil society should support legal literacy, education and employment opportunities for women, which would help curb the violence. The agency accuses governments of doing too little to stop violence against women. "Governments should ensure that there is no impunity for the perpetrators of domestic violence and that incidents of family violence are investigated and punished," wrote UN special rapporteur Radhika Coomaraswamy. May 31, 2000 UNICEF press release

    Women's Conference Decries Lack of Progress Since 1995. At the conference called Women 2000: Gender, Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called for a global effort to eliminate trafficking in women, which, she said was "distorting economies, degrading societies, endangering neighborhoods and robbing millions, mostly women and children, of their dreams." 200,000 Bangladeshi women have been sent to Pakistan during the past 10 years. The Center for the Study of Intelligence estimated that 45,000 to 50,000 women and children enter the U.S. annually as slave laborers or sweatshop workers. 50,000 women from the Dominican Republic work in the sex trade in Latin America and Europe, according to estimates from the International Organization for Migration. Women are sent from Ethiopia illegally to neighboring countries and to Middle Eastern nations such as Lebanon. Ethiopia passed a law in 1998 forbidding this practice, but enforcement has been difficult. Once the women get there, their passports are taken away from them, and they can't get back home. 5,000 to 7,000 Nepalese women are sent to India annually, mostly as prostitutes. An estimated 220,000 Nepalese women are living in India as a result of trafficking. Other women at the conference decried female genital mutilation and circumcision, which persist in Ethiopia and other African countries. An estimated 2 million women and girls undergo genital mutilation each year, and about 132 million have been mutilated in 28 African countries, according to the World Health Organization. June 9, 2000 Chicago Tribune 

    Taliban Softening on Women's Work?.  Afghanistan's conservative Taliban leaders quietly gave the green light to the World Food Program (WFP) to hire 900 local Afghan women workers late last year. UN officials say the women were given free access to go door to door to assess household food needs of Afghani residents. Given the Taliban's strict regulations governing women's rights and freedoms, the Taliban permission is seen as "significant" and "remarkable." Previously, women couldn't even walk in the streets unescorted by a man, and working was largely taboo. Other UN agencies are now eager to take advantage of what appears to be a window of opportunity and increase employment among Afghan women. February 22, 2000 UNWire

    Violence Against Women Found Pervasive Worldwide.  At least one of every three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise physically abused during her life, according to a study published by Johns Hopkins University's School of Public Health and the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE). Governments and international organizations have become increasingly outspoken against such abuse, but institutional responses from local health workers and police generally have lagged far behind. Women's greatest risk of violence comes from men they know, often male family members or husbands. Abuse of women within marriage and coerced sex are the most common, as opposed to rape during war, female infanticide, trafficking in women, and female genital mutilation. Battered women often suffer chronic pain, physical disability, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and sometimes high-risk sexual behavior, while their children face a greater risk of low birth weight, malnutrition, behavioral problems, and infant death. In many countries violence is seen as husband's right to 'correct' an erring wife. Most women conceal their plight. Women living in poverty are more likely to experience violence than women of higher status. One of the solutions is to train health workers to identify abuse, and provide services necessary for the victim. January 31, 2000 IPS

    Pakistan: Educated Girls Can Help Heal Broken Nation  In rural areas, only 2% of the females are literate. Girls cannot attend schools with boys and must be taught only by females. The Dutch-backed project goes in and builds schools for girls and trains teachers, who then are paid by the government. A local women's committee oversees the operation of the school. 'We want to send our daughters to school because we want them to have a better life than us,' Through the Dutch program, almost 15,000 young girls have gained access to primary education. There has been a 10% increase in girls' participation in schools. "Once you educate the girl, the life of the family changes totally," said May Rihani, director of girls' education at the Academy for Educational Development. "Nutrition and health improve, child and maternal mortality drops." October 27, 1999 Wahington Post

    New Rights for Egyptian Women.
    Wives will be able to ask for a divorce on the grounds of incompatibility -- but they will have to forgo alimony payments. Until now, wives had to prove that they were mistreated to get a divorce. A proposed clause that would have taken away a man's right to prevent his wife from traveling was dropped. January 28, 2000 BBC Online

    Congo: Experts Criticize Practices Harmful To Women.  Experts discussed the need to modify cultural and traditional practices harmful to women at the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. In the Congo a woman is said to be no more than property. The Democratic Republic of the Congo could learn from neighbouring countries like Zambia, which had been able to expand the use of contraception, despite having customs in common. In wars women continue to suffer from aggressors who continually rape and massacre women and children with no condemnation from the United Nations. Practices like polygamy were a devaluation of women's dignity. Few changes have resulted from a 3 year program for 1997 - 2000 aimed at ensuring economic advancement for women. A five-year program initiated with UN Development Program support for 1999 - 2004 was agreed on to cover the 12 critical areas of concern of the 1995 Beijing Platform of Action. January 25, 2000 UN


    The new annual report of the UNFPA says "If women had the power to make decisions about sexual activity and its consequences," ... "they could avoid many of the 80 million unwanted pregnancies each year, 20 million unsafe abortions, some 750,000 maternal deaths and many times that number of infections and injuries." And: "They could also avoid many of the 333 million sexually transmitted infections contracted each year." October 2, 2000 The New York Times

    We live in a world where 600,000 women die each year during pregnancy or in childbirth. They die because they lack basic care - and in some cases basic information. October 23, 2000 The Galveston County Daily News

    Min Min is Free!
    Min Min Lama was raped by a relative when she was 14, Min Min became pregnant and was forced to have an abortion, for which she received a 20-year prison sentence in Nepal, a country where abortion is illegal. The rapist was charged but released. During the ICPD+5 conference early February 1999 held in The Hague, The Netherlands, 120 young people started a petition to show their support for Min Min. WPF (World Population Fund) drew up a petition asking people to urge for the unconditional and immediate release of Min Min Lama and to request quick and appropriate action to depenalize abortion in Nepal. The result was a total of 13,284 signatures, which were offered to the ambassador of Nepal on Monday 22 September. A mercy petition sent by the International Planned Parenthood Federation in London to the King of Nepal, the work of the Nepalese Family Planning Association (FPAN) and the petition of WPF had had an impact. Min Min was granted an appeal hearing, this time with a good lawyer, and was set free. A Netherlands web site.. November 16, 2000

    U.N. Agency [UNICEF] Sets Its Sights on Curbing Child Marriage.  Children forced into marriages by their families - sometimes at 8 or even younger - face "profound physical, intellectual, psychological and emotional impacts, cutting off educational opportunity and chances of personal growth, risk premature pregnancy and childbearing, and may live a lifetime of domestic and sexual subservience over which they have no control. In the UNICEF study the United States ranked among the least safe of industrialized countries, partly because of a relatively high incidence of teenage pregnancy. In the US, 20% of girls 15 to 19 giving birth annually (compared to Italy where the rate is only 1% of teenage girls). In Ethiopia one in seven teenage girls give birth every year, AIDS affects 10% of the population and women have an average of seven children. One out of every seven women in Ethiopia dies as a result of pregnancy or childbirth. In Africa, teens aged 12-15 suffer complications of pregnancy and labor. Long periods of labor sometime cause holes between the vagina and bladder or rectum, causing the leakage of urine. "Her husband throws her out; her family won't take her back and she's a true outcast of society," said Allan Rosenfield, dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. In Africa, more than half of maternal deaths were due to unsafe abortions. In Bangladesh, 5% of 10- to 14-year-olds were married (1996-1997). In the Indian state of Rajasthan, a 1993 survey showed 56% had married before 15 and 17% before they were 10. In Ethiopia and parts of West Africa, including Nigeria, being married at 7 or 8 was found to be not uncommon. There is hope, however. In Sri Lanka, new laws required that all marriages be registered and that both partners demonstrate their consent. Consequently, the average marrying age rapidly rose to 25. March 8, 2001 New York Times

  • March 7, 2001 New York Times UNICEF Wants To End Early Marriages.  Young girls suffer a physical and emotional toll from early marriage and motherhood, especially in Africa and Asia. Young brides tend to leave school prematurely and suffer a high mortality rate. In Afghanistan and Bangladesh, 54% and 51% of girls respectively are married by the time they are 18. In Nepal, while the average age of a first marriage is 19, 7% of girls are married before they are 10 years old and 40% are married by the time they are 15.

    U.N. Group Seeking More Aid for Developing World's Mothers. U.S., Other Nations Urged to Help Stem Deaths During Births, Abortions "Lives Together, Worlds Apart: Men and Women in a Time of Change," the U.N. Population Fund's annual report was released today. In developing countries, only half of births are professionally attended, resulting in 500,000 maternal deaths each year. An estimated 50 million abortions performed annually, 20 million being unsafe and resulting in the deaths of 78,000 women. One-third, or 80 million, of all pregnancies each year are believed to be unwanted or mistimed. Countries have agreed that $5.7 billion a year is needed for family planning programs, but less than half has been made available from international sources. Margaret Pollack, director of the Office of Population for the U.S. State Department said that the United States has not met its financial and moral obligation, ranking eighth in international population assistance to the ratio of" gross national product. U.S. funding for international population programs has been cut by 35 percent since 1995. The report also addressed gender disparities. 2 million more African women than men suffer from HIV/AIDS. 5,000 women and girls are murdered each year in "honor" killings. 100 million women and girls are affected by female genital mutilation. September 21, 2000 Cox News Service


    In an interview ( Moyers 1989 ) Bill Moyers asked Isaac Asimov:

    What happens to the idea of the dignity of the human species if this population growth continues at its present rate?

    Asimov responded:

    It will be completely destroyed. I like to use what I call my bathroom metaphor: if two people live in an apartment and there are two bathrooms, then both have freedom of the bathroom. You can go to the bathroom anytime you want to stay as long as you want for whatever you need. And everyone believes in freedom of the bathroom; it should be right there in the Constitution.

    But if you have twenty people in the apartment and two bathrooms, no matter how much every person believes in freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up times for each person, you have to bang on the door, "Aren't you through yet?" and so on.

    Asimov concluded with the profound observation:

    In the same way, democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive. Convenience and decency cannot survive. As you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn't matter if someone dies, the more people there are, the less one person matters.

    Poverty and Hunger

    Globalization Creates Increase in Economic Inequity.  In it's 1999 Human Development Report, the UN Development Program says that economic globalization has created a "grotesque" polarization between rich and poor societies. In an index that measures per-capita income, life expectancy, school attendance, adult literacy, and poverty, Canada ranks first, followed by Norway, the United States, Japan, Belgium, Sweden, Australia, the Netherlands, Iceland, and Britain. Last is Sierra Leone, Niger, Ethiopia, Burinka Faso, Burundi, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Eritera, Mali, and the Central Africa Republic. However, in ranking gender equality, Costa Rica (ranked 23) beats out France (36), Israel (37) and Japan (38). In the Third World during the last two decades, life expectancy increased from 53 to 62 years, adult literacy rose from 48% to 76%, infant (under age 5) fell from 149 to 85 per 1,000 live births. 2.6 billion people still lack basic sanitation, 840 million people are malnourished, 1.3 million live on less than on U.S. dollar a day, 1/4 to 1/2 of all women are victims of abuse, and 250 million children are working instead of going to school. The most widespread discrepancy is still between the sexes. The Internet is blamed for leaving the poor out of the global conversation. Cosmetic drugs and slow-ripening tomatoes are higher on the list than a vaccine against malaria or drought-resistant crops.

  • October 2, 2000 UN Press Release Millenium Summit and Globalization. One of the goals set by the Millennium Summit was to halve poverty by 2015. The Russian Federation representative compared globalization to a rolling train that one could safely board only from the right platform at the right time. Morocco's representative said that inequality in income continued to worsen. The three richest people in the world had an income that exceeded the gross national product of the world's 49 poorest countries. 20% of the richest people held over 80% of the world's wealth, while 20% of the poorest only held 1%. Should the international community allow that situation to deteriorate? he asked, or should it work together to find solutions that would protect the dignity of human beings? Ecuador's debt service consumed more than 50% of the national budget. That prevented the execution of health programmes, education, employment, and the well-being of the population's poor sectors. A solution based on the principles of justice, responsibility and solidarity must be found. The Secretary-General's Millennium Report noted that half of the inhabitants of Africa lived in abject poverty. The urgent question was to know what had to be done to alleviate the poverty of the planet. The Nepal representative said many developing States were in deep conflict and the majority of humanity lived in absolute poverty, illiteracy and disease. Although poverty reduction and development were primarily responsibilities of the developing countries, they could not do it alone. Developing countries needed better terms of trade, as well as improved access to the developed country markets for their products and services. They must also have access to technology in the rich countries for their modernization. The Philippines representative said least developed countries could not be expected to make significant progress in social and economic development if they were encumbered by an unmanageable debt burden.

    A Quarter of the Third World in Extreme Poverty.
    1.2 billion people, nearly 1/4 of the developing world, live in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. In Sub-Sahara African 45% of the population lives on less than one dollar a day. This number could surpass 50% in 10 years. December 10, 1999 Xinua

    World Income Gap Widens.  80 countries have a lower per-capita income in 1998 than in 1989. The assets of the world's 200 richest people more than doubled from $440 billion to $1,042 trillion from 1994 to 1998, and their incomes were more than the incomes of more than the 40% of the world's population. The average income ratio of the richest 20% to the poorest 20% in the world increased from 30 to 1 in 1960 to 60 to 1 in 1990, and to 74 to 1 in 1999. The disparity could be 100 to 1 before 2015. The spread of global threats such as organized crime, trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation, and drugs are outpacing endeavors to tackle them. In the meantime, foreign assistance accounts for only 1/2 of 1%, and funding is at its lowest level (in real dollar terms) in more than 50 years. January 3, 1999 Christian Science Monitor

    Poverty Affects One-Tenth Of Children In Industrialized World.  Over 1 billion people are estimated to be below the poverty line, defined as living on less than $1 a day. 70% of the poor live in developing countries in Asia. One in 10 children live below the poverty line in some of the world's richest countries. January 27, 2000 Voice of America's Dateline

    Chronic Hunger and Obesity Epidemic Eroding Global Progress.  While the world's underfed population has declined slightly since 1980 to 1.1 billion, the number of overweight people has surged to 1.1 billion, says a new report by Gary Gardner, and Brian Halweil of Worldwatch, called Underfed and Overfed: The Global Epidemic of Malnutrition. Both the overweight and the underweight suffer from malnutrition, a deficiency or an excess in a person's intake of nutrients and other dietary elements needed for healthy living. More than half of the world's disease burden-measured in "years of healthy life lost"-is attributable to hunger, overeating, and widespread vitamin and mineral deficiencies. There are 150 million underweight children in the developing world, nearly one in three. In the U.S., 55% of adults are overweight by international standards and 23% are obese. 80% of the world's hungry children live in countries with food surpluses. Eliminating micronutrient deficiencies can produce rapid results for just pennies per person per year. The World Health Organization program to iodize salt in 47 countries between 1994 and 1997 cut the prevalence of iodine deficiency disorder from 29% to 13%. March 4, 2000 Worldwatch

    Disease & Reproductive Health

    It has been shown that providing reproductive health care, lowering the infant mortality rate and the maternal death rate have had a positive correlation to reducing birth rates. In the case of infant mortality, when a women thinks that many of her children will not survive childhood, she wants to have extra children as insurance that she will have enough children. When death rates are high, as in the case of HIV/AIDS, families try to have more children to replace family members who will die, even if the result is a growing population. Women who are given attention in basic health matters begin to see themselves as more than just baby machines, and they gain more respect for their own lives. Then they can look beyond birthing babies and see themselves in other ways: as income-earners, as community workers, as valuable human beings who do not have to produce babies to show their worth.

    Half a Million Women a Year Die in Pregnancy: UN. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) reported, in its Maternal Mortality Update 1998-1999, that 514,000 women, mostly in developing nations, die every year in pregnancy and 20 million suffer acute complications. 300 million women, or about one quarter of the developing world's adult female population, suffered infection or long-term injury as a result of pregnancy. "Such is the neglect of women's health and the shame evoked by these conditions, they typically go untreated, compounding the woman's suffering and humiliation, and leading to isolation and exclusion from the family and community," the report said. Almost eight million infants die each year, with two-thirds occuring in the first month of life. 3.4 million newborns don't make it past their first week. Most prenatal and neonatal deaths result from poor maternal health and inadequate care during pregnancy, delivery and the critical immediate postpartum period. Every year, a million children are left motherless and are 3 to 10 times more likely to die within two years than children with both parents. Over 90% of maternal deaths occur in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. India accounts for 25% of such deaths worldwide. Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Nepal, Nigeria, and Pakistan account for another 30%. February 15, 2001 Agence France Presse

    With Bill Gates at U.N. To Talk about AIDS, the Quesiton Is Money.  Bill and Melinda Gates met U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to talk about the global AIDS crisis. They have pledged $126 million to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. He is also donating $750 million over five years to boost global immunization efforts to try to save the lives of the 3 million children a year who die from vaccine-preventable diseases - and to research critically needed vaccines. Over the last two years, the Gates foundation has provided $1.5 billion for global health, including $236 million for U.N. programs involving the U.N. Population Fund, UNICEF, the World Health Organization and others. March 9, 2001 Associated Press

    AIDS Spurs a Crisis of Orphanhood Across Africa .  The crisis of AIDS orphans in Africa will continue to grow for at least a generation, according to a study released by the US Agency for International Development. One in seven children under 15 in sub-Saharan Africa will have lost a parent to AIDS by 2010. Ten years ago, 4% of children in sub-Saharan Africa had one or both parents. Approximately 20% of those cases were due to AIDS. This year, 6% of children will be orphans, with AIDS causing 47% of the cases. July 13, 2000 Washington Post 

    Women's Health Risks in Developing World Cited.  The risk of death from reproductive-related causes is 33 times higher for women in developing countries for those living in developed countries, according to A World of Difference: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Risks, a report released by Population Action International (PAI). Ethiopia, Angola, Chad, Afghanistan and Central African Republic have the highest reproductive risk index. Globally, one in 65 women will die each year of reproductive health-related causes. PAI and CARE urge increased worldwide support and funding for reproductive health services and both support the Global Democracy Promotion Act (HR755), introduced by Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL), which calls for $430 million in US spending for family planning programs. In 1994 and 1995, the US provided over $520 million and $576 million, respectively, to this cause. By the year 2000, US funding had dropped to $394 million. 150 million women in the world want contraceptive care and do not have access to it. March 7, 2001 Reuters/New York Times

    Tanzania; 50,000 Kids Die Yearly Due To Insufficient Breast Feeding   If a child is well breast-fed in the first months, without additional foods, except for medicine prescribed by doctors, diseases like diarrhea and air borne diseases are less likely to attack, says Dr. Ali Mzige, director for preventive services in the Ministry of Health. Dr. Aaron Chiduo, the Minister of Health, emphasised that children have a right to breast feed. However, "Despite the fact that breast feeding is the only ideal way to feed the majority of infants, it has been learnt from research findings that there are possibilities of transmitting HIV infection from mother to child through breast feeding," he stressed. If a mother is HIV-positive, the average risk for HIV transmission through breast-feeding is 10-20% or one in seven children. The level of HIV/AIDS is much higher in maternal clinics where up to 36% of expectant mothers is proven HIV positive, and in Dar Es Salaam, over 50% of women admitted to hospitals are HIV-positive. Recent surveys revealed that 529 women die out of 100,000 giving birth every year because of excessive bleeding after birth, unsafe abortion, hypertensive disorders and abstracted labor. Other causes are disease like malaria, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and anemia, which are aggravated by pregnancy. Also 150 children out of 100,000 born die before they reach five years, often from diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, diarrhea pneumonia, and malnutrition. Declining literacy among community and again especially among women, has reduced their ability of health seeking behavior. Despite significant improvements in life expectancy, infant mortality and immunization coverage since independence, gains are being eroded, partly as a result of the AIDS epidemic. Infant mortality (86 per 1000 live births), under-five mortality (144 per 1,000 live births) and maternal mortality (530 per 100,000 live births) are considered to be very high. The total fertility rate is 5.6 and contraceptive prevalence rate remains very low at 12% for modern methods. Per capita spending on health is only $3.5 a year. August 9, 2000 Africa News

    WHO Gets Grant for Promotion of Child Health.  The UN Foundation has granted to the WHO 16.4 million US dollars to help communities reduce child deaths, prevent HIV/AIDS among adolescents, improve vaccination programmes and child nutrition (by using vitamin A and zinc as food supplements) in Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In just over 1 year, the UN Foundation, which is supported by US billionaire Ted Turner, has pledged 50 million dollars. December 22, 1999 Panafrican News

    Kenya: UNICEF Urges Help For Street Children.  Kenya will have 900,000 AIDS orphans by the end of 2000, up from 440,000 from last year. UNICEF child protection chief Mamadou Bagayoko called on Kenya to equip street children with skills that will help them participate in their country's industrialization. Kenya plans to pass a Children's Bill in parliament to protect children from problems related to divorce, adoption and rape. February 16, 2000 UN Wire

    Iodine Deficiency: Disorder Affects 70 Million African Children.  Iodine deficiency in the diet could be a major cause of poor intellectual development, according to UNICEF. The human body needs iodine in tiny doses, but a lack of it is the single greatest known cause of mental deficiency worldwide, responsible for mental retardation, stunted growth and, in extreme cases of deficiency, cretinism. The most common symptom of iodine deficiency is goiter, swelling of the thyroid gland which affects its ability to produce hormones that regulate metabolism. Experts say since iodine is essential during fetal development, babies born to iodine-deficient mothers can be impaired permanently. Some iodine deficient communities suffer IQs 13.5 lower than normal. February 16, 2000 IPS/TerraViva

    World AIDS Day, 1999.  More people died in 1999 than at any time since the epidemic was first recognized 18 years ago. According to the United Nations Program on AIDS, of the 5.6 million new HIV infections in 1999, 4 million were in Africa. Half were among young people ages 15 to 24. Life expectancy in Africa is likely to drop from 59 years to 45 years within the next five years. Millions of orphans will be left. Economic mainstays such as sugar farming are down 50% in productivity. AIDS is a bigger threat than hunger, overpopulation, malaria, or war. "Virtually no attention has been paid to the fact that we now have the medicine to keep people from dying of AIDS, and that from a purely medical standpoint, the deaths of 23 million Africans over the next 10 years are preventable." -- Raymond Dooley, the former chair of Boston's Department of Health and Hospitals. December 1, 1999 The Boston Globe/AP

    N.Y. Congressman Proposing Rise in Global Health Aid.  Representative Joseph Crowley will introduce a bill this week that would double US aid for global health to $2 billion. "Over 10 million children (around the world) under the age of 5 die from preventable causes," and "Seventeen million people die annually of infectious diseases, 1 million of which are preventable," said Crowley. The bill includes $525 million for child survival, $150 million for maternal health, $610 million for family planning. (No funds would go to abortion), $500 million for HIV/AIDS, and $314 million for infectious diseases. The Global Health Council and The US Agency for International Development support the bill. "With large federal budget surpluses this year and a booming US economy, now is the time to increase spending on world health," said GHC President Nils Daulaire. January 5, 2000 BBC

    Africa: Increasing Cases May Stagnate Demand For Education.  As a result of HIV/AIDS,and the early death of one or both parents, there are fewer children to be educated. Some children are born HIV Positive and most die before reaching school-going age. Primary school enrollments stagnated between 1990 and 1996 in Zambia. Instead of going to school, children will be recruited for domestic and agricultural tasks, plus caring for adults or other family members. The numbers of street children in Zambia have swelled from 35,000 in 1991 to over 75,000 in 1996. It is estimated that in Zambia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, the number of primary school age children will be over 20% lower than pre-HIV/AIDS projections by 2010. Many of these will be orphans with very limited resources and incentives to enter the system. The Swaziland Ministry of Education, Swaziland estimates that by 2016, there will be 30% fewer 6 year olds and 17% fewer 18 year olds. In Zambia, the number of teachers dying from AIDS is greater than the output from all teacher-training colleges. December 20, 1999 All Africa News Agency

    35% of Namibians have HIV-AIDS  New statistics in Namibia show that more than 50% of Namibians living in the Caprivi and Kavango regions are infected with HIV. Nearly 58% of those tested between January and October in the Caprivi region were HIV-positive. Nationwide, 35% of Namibians are infected. December 8, 1999 Nambian


    Micro-Credit is small loans for low-income people to borrow to start income-generating projects. Part of a comprehensive approach to empowering women and ensuring a stable population level, it is channeled to the poorest citizens in a country. According to the 1997 United Nations Development Report, women comprise 2/3 of the poorest citizens in each country. Supporting women's efforts to achieve economic self-sufficiency also helps to slow population growth. Women who are earning an income often choose to have smaller families, have more ability to pay for their own family-planning needs, and choose to send their sons and daughters to school, which often leads to greater spacing between generations an important component of slowing population growth globally.

    Senator Durbin tells the story of a Bangladeshi woman he met who was had received a small loan from Bangladesh's Grameen Bank. The woman was, at age 18, the mother of three children. The woman stated that she was not going to have any more children because her first two children were healthy and the bank loan provided her with the opportunity to improve the quality of life for her family. He said, "A tiny loan of $100, a family planning program, some public health techniques and this woman is going to limit her family to three. Is that important to us in the United States? It is, because in Asia, in Africa and around the world, the problem of overpopulation is one that is not local or regional, it is a global problem. Overpopulation leads to many problems economic instability, political instability, environmental degradation."

    Save the Children Women throughout the world lack access to the credit, technology, and training needed to launch or expand businesses often due to laws, policies, or social attitudes. Yet women, and particularly mothers, can be the most effective engines for lifting their families out of poverty. When mothers are able to earn money, children are healthier and better educated. Women who borrow money to create small businesses commonly have loan repayment rates in excess of 95%.

    India: UNDP Gives $6M For Women Microcredit Program.  A microcredit system has been established for 35,000 women farmers in 1,000 villages in three states of India: Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. The women are 'de facto' farmers because the men have migrated to other regions to find work, leaving the women responsible for food security for their families. The women are often denied loans even though they have a better repayment record than men. In the microcredit program, the women will be in charge of who receives loans and what interest rates they will be charged. Grain banks will also be established. The average woman farmer in the Indian Himalayas works 67 hours per week. Their daughters must often serve as replacement mothers rather than receiving an education. January 2, 1999 Earth Times

    Exploitation of Children and Young Women

    U.S: Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VAWA) Passes Unanimously
    On October 11, after months of stalling, the Senate unanimously voted to pass the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, an anti-crime bill that includes the Sex Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The law codifies VAWA for five years and authorizes $3 billion in funds for sexual assault and domestic violence prevention, including sexual assault prevention training for judges, battered women's services, and state-based services and transitional housing for victims of domestic violence. The law authorizes $94.5 million for victims of sex trafficking, creates special visas for victims of trafficking and slavery, and doubles the current maximum penalty for sex trafficking. ZPG Sept 2000

    Children In Poor Countries Need Help.  2.2 billion of the world's people are under 18 years old, with 2 billion from developing countries, according to UN University Vice Rector Ramesh Thakur and UNICEF Japan Director Manzoor Ahmed. 30,500 children under 5 years old die every day of preventable diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition. Every month, 50,000 children under 15 are infected with AIDS. Of all children in developing countries, 20% of those ages 5 to 15 are engaged in child labor in hazardous and harmful conditions, 30% under 5 are underweight, nearly 40% suffer from stunted growth, and over 50% are malnourished. Foreign aid dropped to a historic low in 1998 of 0.2% of the GPD of the OECD countries, well below the internationally agreed target of 0.7%. Ironically, income jumped and aid declined by 30 percent from 1992 to 1997. More children today live in poverty than 10 years ago, and more children find themselves in a more violent and unstable environment. December 27, 1999 International Herald Tribune

    Street Children: Numbers Rising In Zambia, Kyrgyzstan  More than 75,000 children live on the streets of Zambia's major cities. In addition, 13% of the child population of 4.1 million are orphans as a result of HIV/AIDS. Street children "fell prey" to drug and substance abuse and some have been raped. In the central Asian Republic of Kyrgyzstan a growing number of children in have been abandoned by their families and are forced to live on the streets due to poverty. December 8, 1999 Africa News

    Trafficking of Women in Africa Rising with Little Notice from Officials  From the immigration/exploitation department:  The problem of sex trafficking has received particular attention in Asia and Eastern Europe, but women in Africa are also vulnerable to sex trafficking and immigrant smuggling rings because many are poor and uneducated, a study by the Young Women's Christian Association has found. African women are trafficked for prostitution, domestic work and marriage to Europe, Asia and Australia. Many risk prosecution as illegal immigrants, and a large number suffer various forms of violence. Young African women are particularly at risk because their parents or guardians lack the capacity to educate them. Many end up as prostitutes because they are deceived into believing they will receive a high-quality education abroad. In Zambia, the YWCA is currently working in more than 32 communities to help spread awareness of the problem and assist survivors of sex trafficking. The YWCA is a christian organization dedicated to empowering women to challenge all forms of gender based discrimination against women and wants to educate women that such violence prevents them from realizing their potential as full human beings and from contributing fully to the advancement of themselves, their families and their country. From the Philadelphia Inquirer, May 12 2000 ... Of the thousands of immigrants and asylum seekers in Europe, between 175,000 and 300,000 are sold into sex slavery, bought by criminals for $1,000 to $5,000. Many end up in the United States. A large number of sex slaves and prostitutes come from Asia and Thailand, more and more are coming from Central and Eastern Europe ... and a growing number of them are very young. From the Toronto National Post, May 17, 2000 ... Canada has become a destination for women and children smuggled from poor nations and a transit point for those going to the United States. Government estimates say underworld sex traffickers earn up to $400 million each year from operations in Canada. May 15, 2000 Earth Times 

    Sex Trafficking: Bosnia and Herzegovina has become a significant destination for women trafficked from Eastern Europe and forced into prostitution, according to a new UN report. Llaw enforcement efforts and policies of the Bosnian government are replete with "obstruction, obfuscation and simple passivity" and that "law enforcement is often complicit, either overtly or by silence and failure to act" against sex trafficking. May 19, 2000 UN NewsService

    Human Development

    UNDP: Human Development Report 2000 Released Today.  The 11th annual Human Development Report, commissioned by the UN Development Program, ranks 174 countries on life expectancy, education and income. UNDP officials hope that the report will allow countries to take a closer look at their progress on human rights and development. No drastic changes occured from last year. Canada is ranked as the top country in terms of life expectancy, education and income. Norway, the United States, Australia and Iceland are ranked second through fifth, while Niger and Sierra Leone are again at the bottom of the list. Japan and Belgium dropped slightly from fourth and fifth, to ninth and seventh, respectively. 176 countries participated, with 12 unable to provide the necessary information. The 48 poorest countries account for less than 0.4% of global exports. The combined wealth of the world's 200 richest people hit $1 trillion in 1999, while the combined income of the 582 million people living in the 43 least developed countries was $146 billion; To achieve universal provision of basic services in developing countries would cost an additional $80 billion annually; Civil wars in the past 10 years have killed 5 million people worldwide; More than 30,000 children die per day from mainly preventable diseases; Each year, 40 million births worldwide are not registered; Between 85 million and 115 million girls and women have undergone some form of female genital mutilation; Estimates show one in three women have been subjected to violence in an intimate relationship; Worldwide, women occupy only 14% of parliamentary seats; In 1999, nearly 90 journalists and media people were killed while doing their jobs; In 1900, no country had universal adult suffrage, while almost all countries do today. unw

    Human Development Report 1999

    Human Development Index (HDI)

    174 Countries Ranking, from High human development to Low human development

          1  Canada 
          2  Norway
          3  United States
          4  Japan
          5  Belgium
          6  Sweden
          7  Australia 
          8  Netherlands
          9  Iceland
          10 United Kingdom
          11 France
          12 Switzerland
          13 Finland 
          14 Germany
          15 Denmark
          16 Austria
          17 Luxembourg 
          18 New Zealand
          19 Italy 
          20 Ireland 
          21 Spain 
          22 Singapore
          23 Israel
          24 Hong Kong, China (SAR)
          25 Brunei Darussalam
          26 Cyprus
          27 Greece
          28 Portugal
          29 Barbados
          30 Korea, Rep. of
          31 Bahamas
          32 Malta 
          33 Slovenia
          34 Chile 
          35 Kuwait
          36 Czech Republic
          37 Bahrain
          38 Antigua and Barbuda
          39 Argentina
          40 Uruguay 
          41 Qatar
          42 Slovakia
          43 United Arab Emirates
          44 Poland
          45 Costa Rica
          46 Trinidad and Tobago
          47 Hungary 
          48 Venezuela 
          49 Panama
          50 Mexico
          51 Saint Kitts and Nevis
          52 Grenada 
          53 Dominica
          54 Estonia 
          55 Croatia 
          56 Malaysia
          57 Colombia
          58 Cuba
          59 Mauritius 
          60 Belarus
          61 Fiji 
          62 Lithuania 
          63 Bulgaria
          64 Suriname 
          65 Libyan Arab Jamahiriya 
          66 Seychelles 
          67 Thailand
          68 Romania 
          69 Lebanon 
          70 Samoa (Western)
          71 Russian Federation 
          72 Ecuador 
          73 Macedonia, TFYR 
          74 Latvia
          75 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 
          76 Kazakhstan
          77 Philippines
          78 Saudi Arabia
          79 Brazil
          80 Peru 
          81 Saint Lucia
          82 Jamaica
          83 Belize
          84 Paraguay
          85 Georgia 
          86 Turkey
          87 Armenia
          88 Dominican Republic 
          89 Oman 
          90 Sri Lanka
          91 Ukraine 
          92 Uzbekistan 
          93 Maldives
          94 Jordan
          95 Iran, Islamic Rep. of
          96 Turkmenistan
          97 Kyrgyzstan
          98 China 
          99 Guyana
          100 Albania
          101 South Africa
          102 Tunisia
          103 Azerbaijan 
          104 Moldova, Rep. of
          105 Indonesia
          106 Cape Verde 
          107 El Salvador 
          108 Tajikistan 
          109 Algeria
          110 Viet Nam
          111 Syrian Arab Republic
          112 Bolivia
          113 Swaziland
          114 Honduras
          115 Namibia
          116 Vanuatu
          117 Guatemala
          118 Solomon Islands
          119 Mongolia 
          120 Egypt 
          121 Nicaragua
          122 Botswana 
          123 Sao Tome and Principe
          124 Gabon 
          125 Iraq
          126 Morocco
          127 Lesotho
          128 Myanmar 
          129 Papua New Guinea      
          130 Zimbabwe 
          131 Equatorial Guinea
          132 India 
          133 Ghana
          134 Cameroon 
          135 Congo
          136 Kenya
          137 Cambodia 
          138 Pakistan
          139 Comoros
          140 Lao People's Dem. Rep.
          141 Congo, Dem. Rep. of 
          142 Sudan 
          143 Togo 
          144 Nepal 
          145 Bhutan 
          146 Nigeria
          147 Madagascar
          148 Yemen 
          149 Mauritania
          150 Bangladesh 
          151 Zambia
          152 Haiti 
          153 Senegal
          154 Cote d'Ivoire 
          155 Benin
          156 Tanzania, U. Rep. of
          157 Djibouti 
          158 Uganda
          159 Malawi
          160 Angola 
          161 Guinea
          162 Chad
          163 Gambia 
          164 Rwanda 
          165 Central African Republic 
          166 Mali
          167 Eritrea
          168 Guinea-Bissau 
          169 Mozambique 
          170 Burundi
          171 Burkina Faso
          172 Ethiopia 
          173 Niger 
          174 Sierra Leone

    Kofi Annan's speech at the opening of the UN General Assembly

    -The special session on ICPD follow-up - is found here.

    Some extracts:
    Every human being aspires to health, security and dignity. That is the essence of human rights. And we now realize that sexual and reproductive health is an essential part of those rights.

    Infant mortality has dropped from 140 out of every 1,000 babies to 80, and maternal mortality has declined ... Average life expectancy has risen from 59 to 66.

    ...have we done all that the Cairo Conference recommended? No, my friends. There is still much to do:

    The WOMEN 2000/BEIJING+5 Conference
    May 30 through June 9, 2000

    Women 2000, also known as Beijing+5, brought thousands of women and men from 185 countries to a United Nations General Assembly Special Session evaluating women's progress worldwide since the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Leaders from the United States and around the world, including hundreds of representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), held panels, workshops and special events throughout New York City.

    A video of conference highlights, made available by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, can be viewed at

    Notes from the conference:

    More information available from the women2000newsroom.org

    Statement by Dr. Nafis Sadik

    The following statement was delivered by Dr. Nafis Sadik on July 20, 1999 at a luncheon celebrating Cairo + 5, hosted by the International Center for Research on Women and the Congressional Women's Caucus.

    It is a pleasure to be with you this afternoon and I want to thank Geeta and her colleagues at ICRW and Senators Snowe, Leahy and Jeffords, who have sponsored this luncheon. I would also like to thank the Congressional Women's Caucus and its chairs, Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Sue Kelly for being here; and all of you for your staunch support for universal reproductive health, gender equality and equity, women's empowerment and for your support for the United Nations Population Fund. Today's decision by the full House of Representatives to restore US funding to UNFPA is a vindication of your work over the last months and years.

    Just last weekend I enjoyed watching the United States and China battle it out on the soccer field. How far we have come when women's sports capture the world's attention and imagination. As Newsweek's cover stated "Girls' Rule!" If it had been like that 30 years ago, we would not have needed UNFPA. We would not need to make the simple demands we are making now.

    Yet, it never ceases to amaze me how difficult it is to persuade one half of humanity that the other half is just as capable, just as strong, just as deserving. I listen to the polemic language of our opponents and I note their gross misrepresentation of the facts and motives. And I think, if their case were stronger, they could make it more quietly.

    Let me quietly state the facts:

    The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was the biggest gathering of its kind ever held. There were some 20,000 government delegates, UN representatives, NGOs and media in Cairo. At the conference 179 countries and territories adopted a Programme of Action on population and development which, quite literally, is changing the world.

    First, the ICPD resolved the old argument about which comes first, population or development. Its answer was -- both. Population and development go together and cannot be separated.

    Second, the conference looked at population problems from the point of view of the individual man and woman. Rather than numbers and demographic targets, the conference focused on human rights and personal aspirations. This is the key to the whole agreement: women everywhere want smaller families than their mothers had. If they can have the children they want, when they want, then families will be smaller and population growth will be slower. As I think someone else said, it's that simple.

    Accordingly, one of the primary goals of the ICPD Programme of Action is to make reproductive health, including family planning, universally available by 2015. It includes other time-bound population and development goals for 1995-2015, including the reduction of infant, child and maternal mortality and provision of universal access to education, especially for girls. And, it underscored the necessity and importance of gender equality.

    Since the ICPD we have seen concrete results in every region of the world:

    Because of the ICPD when we talk of population today we mean women's reproductive health and rights; we mean education and empowerment; we mean equality and equity. We also mean the right to personal development and equal opportunity. The role of government, of civil society and of the international community is to expand options. We understand that free will is the essence of development; and that the essence of free will is the power to make decisions.

    Many of the findings at the recently completed ICPD + 5 review confirm the success of the Programme of Action.

    In short, the ICPD Programme of Action is providing remarkable changes throughout the world.

    I don't want to overemphasize the positive at the expense of losing sight of many continuing problems and constraints.

    At the recently completed United Nations General Assembly Special Session, the delegates of 180 countries forcefully addressed these issues. These delegates renewed their commitment to solving these most fundamental of human needs.

    The Special Session represented a success of two kinds. First, it was a success for the United Nations process of building global consensus through open and inclusive discussion. Second, it marked five successful years of progress in implementing the Cairo consensus on population as a development issue concerning all nations.

    In closing I must discuss with you a major obstacle to implementation of Cairo - and ultimately to successful realization of meeting individual choices, development and population stabilization. That obstacle is, of course, funding.

    In Cairo, the governments agreed that to fund the implementation of the Programme of Action required $17 billion by the year 2000. $5.7 billion or one third was to come from industrial countries and $11.3 billion from developing countries. To date, industrial and developing countries are spending $1.9 billion and $7.8 billion per year, respectively. In short, the industrial countries are one-third of the way toward fulfilling their commitment and the developing countries about two-thirds.

    These numbers tell a sad tale indeed. It is sad for the millions in developing countries who lack choices, opportunities, and hope. It is also sad for USAID, UNFPA, other bilaterals and multilaterals and NGOs who work tirelessly with developing countries to help fuel the locomotive for development, prosperity, equality and individual liberty and happiness.

    There is a tendency by a minority of policy makers in Washington to confuse and distort the work of UNFPA. Let me dispel these myths once and for all. This year, UNFPA entered into an agreement with the Government of China to a four-year pilot project in 32 counties in China, to put into practice the human rights approach embodied in the ICPD Programme of Action. UNFPA is working with the Chinese government to demonstrate that enabling individuals to make free, informed and voluntary choices about their family size is the right approach to stabilizing population. In the 32 pilot counties, China has agreed to a programme that lifts all birth quotas and targets including the one-child policy.

    The Programme of Action firmly agreed that coercion has no place in population programmes. UNFPA has never tolerated coercion in any population programme. Further, UNFPA does not support China's one-child policy: nor do we support any policy or practice than denies individuals the ability to exercise their reproductive rights.

    We firmly believe that individuals should make decisions about their lives and reproductive decisions, not governments. It is for that reason that UNFPA is working with China to provide women with reproductive choices and options for their lives. What we are doing in China is no different from our work in any of the other countries where we work-to provide healthy futures for all citizens.

    I deeply appreciate all that each of you has done to bring about today's decision in the House to restore funding to UNFPA. The United States is the most powerful and the richest country ever in human history, and with this power and wealth come an awesome responsibility. The United States is the undisputed leader of the world. Its words and actions are magnified many fold throughout the world; when it backs off as it has in recent years from international assistance, so do others. When the United States moves forward, so do others.

    We are on the verge of a new millennium full of possibilities. We know what to do: developing countries are finding the political will to act; we hope now that the United States and the rest of the industrial world will show the compassion and pragmatism to support those efforts. If the House action today is a guide, we will not let polemics and distorted facts win the day. We will not deny to our sisters and brothers the rights they should be able to take for granted.

    Thank you.