Our Perspective

      • High-level panel takes a strong stand for health of women, girls | Mandeep Dhaliwal

        02 May 2013

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        A mother and child recover from malaria in a hospital in Burundi. The government provides free health care for pregnant women and children under five. (Photo: Maria Cerna/UNDP Photo Contest)

        New recommendations by a high-level panel on population and development mark a major step forward in advancing the health of women and girls, who are widely acknowledged as the crux of global development but still suffer needlessly from violence, discrimination, unwanted pregnancies and high rates of maternal mortality. On 25 April, the new, independent High-Level Task Force for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) launched its Policy Recommendations for the ICPD Beyond 2014: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for All. The task force, created in 2012, is charged with reviewing and advancing the work of the 1994 ICPD in Cairo. That meeting resulted in a groundbreaking programme adopted by 179 governments, placing the human rights of women, including their health and reproductive rights, at the centre of the sustainable development agenda. The panel aims to galvanize political will to  advance an agenda that ensures the rights of all—putting sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equality, and empowerment of women and young people front and centre in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The Task Force notes that 800 women die every day as a result of avoidable pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications, while 222 million women who would like to Read More

      • Stopping violence against women | Marta Vieira da Silva

        29 Apr 2013

        Life isn’t easy for women – anywhere in the world.   I grew up in Dois Riachos – a poor, remote town in the north-east of Brazil. Our family didn’t have much money; my mother worked hard to raise me and my two brothers and sister by herself. We couldn’t even afford a football – if we had bought one, we would have gone without food.   At the age of 7, I knew I wanted to play football for the rest of my life. But being a girl, the path wasn’t straightforward. Everyone from my brothers to the other boys on the field tried to stop me from playing. I was lucky enough to have the support of visionary people who helped me fulfill my dream of being a professional footballer.   So many women don’t have the opportunities I did.   Every year, 2 million women and girls are trafficked into prostitution, forced slavery and servitude.   Up to 60 percent of women experience some form of physical or sexual abuse during their life – and as many as half of sexual assaults are committed against girls under 18.   This kind of violence is happening on all corners Read More

      • Trading health for wealth? Obesity in the South Pacific | Douglas Webb

        19 Apr 2013

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        Reduced physical activity and a shift from labour-intensive traditional production systems to the market and services economy have contributed to an obesity epidemic in the Pacific Islands. (Photo: Ferdinand Strobel/UNDP)

        The islands of the South Pacific have some of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the world, with obesity rates as high as 75 percent and diabetes rates as high as 47 percent. The islanders are raising the most obese generation of humans in history. A deeper look at the international trade regimes of these countries indicates that many of them have, in effect, traded health for wealth. The epidemic levels of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancers in the Pacific region are closely linked to the progressive substitution of traditional foods with cheap, energy-dense and nutrient-poor imported foods — i.e., processed “junk.” These countries are being compelled by various trade agreements to further reduce import barriers, making over-processed foods like tinned meats even cheaper and more accessible — and limiting the policy space to respond to the problem on public health grounds. The correlation between imported food and unhealthy diets is exemplified by Kiribati, which is estimated to import a whopping 72 percent of its food and has the highest rates of unhealthy food consumption. Sugar alone accounts for more than 30 percent of the total daily caloric intake and 65 percent of the total Read More