Wednesday, May 30, 2007

UN Millennium Goals Update 5-30-07: In the Struggle to Empower Women & Children -- Very Good News, Very Bad News, & A Dose of Reality

Image: UN Millennium Goals

"None of the Millennium Development Goals will be achieved without gender equality. We cannot let another minute go by without acting decisively and urgently. Unless we do, we will be condemning millions of girls to a life of poverty and hardship." Graça Machel

UN Millennium Goals Update 5-30-07: In the Struggle to Empower Women & Children -- Very Good News, Very Bad News, & A Dose of Reality

By Richard Power

In 2000, the planet was in a very different mood, and very different people were at the heads of some of the great nations. At that time, the global community articulated the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and vowed to achieve them by 2015.

Now, almost at the half-way point, there is still hope of fulfilling the promise, but it fades each day we allow small-mindedness, short-sightedness and seeming self-interest to rule our lives.

Several of the MDG focus on directly improving the lives of women and children.

Because I am a Girl: The State of the World's Girls, a report recently issued by Plan UK provides some global statistics:

* Girls aged 15-19 account for 50% of victims of sexual assault worldwide
* Birth complications and unsafe abortions are the leading cause of death for young women aged 15-19
* Seventy per cent of the 1.5billion people living on less than a dollar a day are female
* Stunted growth in estimated 450million women as a result of childhood malnutrition
* Approximately 7.3million young women are living with HIV/AIDS, in comparison to 4.3million men
* Two thirds of 15-19-year-olds newly infected with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are female
* Sixty two million girls are out of primary school
(Plan UK, 5-16-07)

Published two months ahead of the UN's mid review of the millennium development goals, Because I am a Girl warns that six of the eight targets agreed, are currently failing girls living in poverty and the goals will be missed altogether unless world leaders adopt a tougher stance on the enforcement of international laws set up to protect girl's rights.

Plan UK has launched an eight-year drive to tackle discrimination against girls, which will include following the lives of 125 baby girls living in nine developing countries. (To download the Because I Am A Girl report, click here.)

Meanwhile, there was good news and bad news that impacts the push to achieve the UN Millennium Goals, whether the connection is acknowledged or not.

From Brazil, there is good news:

Just weeks after Pope Benedict XVI denounced government-backed contraception in a visit to Brazil, the president unveiled a program Monday to provide cheap birth control pills at 10,000 drug stores across the country.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the plan will give poor Brazilians "the same right that the wealthy have to plan the number of children they want."
Brazil already hands out free condoms and birth control pills at government-run pharmacies. But many poor people in Latin America's largest country don't go to those pharmacies, so Silva's administration decided to offer the pills at drastically reduced prices at private drug stores, said Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao.
The price for a year's supply of birth control pills under the new program would be $2.40, and anyone — rich or poor — can buy the pills by simply showing a government-issued identification card that almost all Brazilians carry.
(Associated Press, 5-28-07)

But from Dafur and Iraq, there is very bad news.

In these forsaken lands, the government policies of the USA and China are actually driving women and girls away from the promise of health and human rights and into hell-realms of violence and abuse.

The seven women pooled money to rent a donkey and cart, then ventured out of the refugee camp to gather firewood, hoping to sell it for cash to feed their families. Instead, they say, in a wooded area just a few hours walk away, they were gangraped, beaten and robbed.
Naked and devastated, they fled back to Kalma. "All the time it lasted, I kept thinking: They're killing my baby, they're killing my baby," wailed Aisha, who was seven months pregnant at the time.
The women have no doubt who attacked them. They say the men's camels and their uniforms marked them as janjaweed -- the Arab militiamen accused of terrorising the black African villagers of Sudan's Darfur region.
Their story provides a glimpse into the hell that Darfur has become.
Some aid workers believe the janjaweed use rape to intimidate the rebels, and their supporters and families. "It's a strategy of war," UN coordinator Maha Muna said.
(Raw Story, 5-29-07)

With no jobs and no money, many female Iraqi refugees in Syria have turned to prostitution to survive, reports the New York Times.
"Many of these women and girls, including some barely in their teens, are recent refugees," writes Katherine Zoepf. "Some are tricked or forced into prostitution, but most say they have no other means of supporting their families."
Excerpts from the article follow:
According to the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, about 1.2 million Iraqi refugees now live in Syria; the Syrian government puts the figure even higher.
Given the deteriorating economic situation of those refugees, a United Nations report found last year, many girls and women in “severe need” turn to prostitution, in secret or even with the knowledge or involvement of family members. In many cases, the report added, “the head of the family brings clients to the house.”

(RAW STORY, 5-28-07)

Recent UN MDG Related Posts

UN Millennium Goals Update 5-7-07: The Number of Sands in the Hourglass is Finite.

Hard Rain Journal 4-19-07: Sustainability Update -- Simple Truths

Hard Rain Journal 3-22-07: Sustainability Update -- World Water Day -- What Would You Do With Your Last Seven Drops of Water?

Hard Rain Journal 2-17-07: UN Millennium Goals and Human Rights Update -- Healing Balm for the World? Feed Children, Empower Women

Human Rights and UN Millennium Goals Update -- The Real Poverty is on Easy Street

Hard Rain Journal 1-13-07: UN Millennium Goals and Sustainability Update -- Does Burkina-Faso Offer a Glimpse into Our Urban Future

Hard Rain Journal 1-8-07: Human Rights and Environmental Security Update from Burma, Cambodia and Mekong River

Hard Rain Journal 12-12-06: UN Millennium Goals Update -- Nobel Prize Winner Yunus Urges World to Fight Poverty to Win Security and Peace

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

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