Thursday, July 05, 2007

State of the World's Children

What do 17-year-old Doly of Bangladesh, 13-year-old Mulu of Ethiopia, and 14-year-old Fatna of Chad have in common? [click on the links girls' names to watch short movies about their lives!]

They’re all girls profiled in The State of the World’s Children 2007, an annual report created by UNICEF. This year, the report focuses on gender equality. According to UNICEF, eliminating gender discrimination and empowering women does a lot to help children—so the report focuses on ensuring that women and girls have equal opportunities in education, government, and economics.

Like previous years' reports, this year’s paints a grim picture for girls worldwide. Here’s a UNICEF summary:

Despite progress in women’s status in recent decades, the lives of millions of girls and women are overshadowed by discrimination, disempowerment and poverty. Girls and women are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS and women in most places earn less than men for equal work. Millions of women throughout the world are subject to physical and sexual violence, with little recourse to justice. As a result of discrimination, girls are less likely to attend school; nearly one out of every five girls who enroll in primary school in developing countries does not complete a primary education. Education levels among women, says the report, correlate with improved outcomes for child survival and development.

It’s a sad report, but it’s also touching to read stories like those of a girl in Africa who’s trying to become her village’s first girl to graduate from high school, or a girl who fought to safe her own life after being abducted.

Click here to read the report—you’re in for a fascinating ride. The report, and UNICEF’s webpage about its findings, is telling. For example, take these statistics on discrimination against women in different parts of the world:

In the Middle East and North Africa, UNICEF found that over 80% of men who responded to their survey agreed that men make better political leaders than women do. In Asia, that number was closer to 60%. But that’s still way too high!
And here are more facts:

The total number of female heads of state or government in the world is 14 out of 192 UN Member States (countries that belong to the United Nations).

Women and children account for 80% of civilian casualties during armed conflict (i.e. war).

In Cameroon, women who earn money typically spend 74% of it on food for their families, while men only spend about 22%.

One out of every 16 sub-Saharan African women will die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, compared to just 1 out of every 4,000 in industrialized countries.

While more than 80 per cent of Latin American countries have specific legislation against domestic violence, this is true of less than 5 per cent of countries in Eastern Europe, Africa and East Asia and the Pacific.
After reading the report, check out UNICEF's cool website for kids and teens: Voices of Youth. See their explanation on why gender equality benefits everyone, learn how to take action to make a difference, and view the beautiful winning photos from their photo contest on portraits of inspirational women.


Anonymous said...

That is sad. I wish I could help. However I noticed that all the information posted was like 'boys are better' or it was just sad. Here is a cool fact that I looked up about women in the US, enjoy!
Even before WW1(World War 1) Women have been alowed to fight in the war. So, for like 100 years women had that right.

Anonymous said...

Facing the Challenges of HIV/AIDS

Around the world, more than 47 million people are now infected with the HIV/AIDS, It is now a weapon of mankind destruction. It has killed more than 30 million people worldwide according to UNAID and WHO reports since the 1st of December 1981 when it was first recognized. This makes it the worst recorded pandemic in the history of pandemics against mankind. In 2006 alone, it was reported to have killed between 2.5 to 3.5 million people with more than 380000 as children. The large number of these people killed is from the sub Saharan Africa. In some Sub-Saharan African countries, HIV/AIDS is expected to lower life expectancy by as much as 25 years.

AIDS is no longer a problem of medication. It is a problem of development. It is not just an individual hardship. It also threatens to decimate the future prospects of poor countries, wiping away years of hard-won improvements in development indicators. As a result of the disease, many poor countries are witnessing a worsening in child survival rates, reduced life expectancy, crumbling and over-burdened health care systems, the breakdown of family structures and the decimation of a generation in the prime of their working lives.

Bangladesh's socio-economic status, traditional social ills, cultural myths on sex and sexuality and a huge population of marginalised people make it extremely vulnerable to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Everyone buying sex in Bangladesh is having unprotected sex some of the time, and a large majority don’t use condoms most of the time. Behaviors that bring the highest risk of infection in Bangladesh are unprotected sex between sex workers and their clients, needle sharing and unprotected sex between men.

Though the country overall has a low prevalence rate, it has reported concentrated epidemics among vulnerable population such as IDUs. There are already localized epidemics within vulnerable groups in, and the virus would spread among the IDUs’ family or sexual partner.

In many poor countries, commercial female sex workers are frequently exposed to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs). Where sex workers have poor access to health care and HIV prevention services, HIV prevalence can be as high as 50-90%. Evidence shows that targeted prevention interventions in sex work settings can turn the pandemic around.

Bangladesh is a high prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, particularly among commercial sex workers; there are available injection drug users and sex workers all over the country, low condom use in the general population. Considering the high prevalence of HIV risk factors among the Bangladeshi population, HIV prevention research is particularly important for Bangladesh. It is very awful, several organization in Bangladesh are working only to prevent HIV/AIDS but few of them like as ‘Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation’ try to develop proper strategic plane, so should increase research based organization recently.

Poverty in Bangladesh is a deeply entrenched and complex phenomenon. Sequentially, the HIV/AIDS epidemic amplifies and become deeper poverty by its serious economic impact on individuals, households and different sectors of the economy. Poverty is the reason why messages of prevention and control do not make an impact on a vast majority of the vulnerable population.

Sources: World Bank, UNAIDS, UNICEF.

Kh. Zahir Hossain
M & E Specialist (BWSPP)
The World Bank
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Mobile: 01711453171

Melinda said...

I think it's also sad that UNICEF says it wants to help children but then gives money to organizations that fun the deaths of innocent children. They should want to help and protect the unborn just as much as the born, and stop funding these groups.