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Fourth World Conference on Women – Beijing 1995

February 3, 2013

(I realize this might sound a little like a school term paper, but it is good background content.  More personal entries with opinions – of which I do not lack – later)

The Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) was in Beijing in 1995.   First Lady Hillary Clinton gave a monumental, world changing speech saying “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.”   

Here’s a blurb about the link between FWCW and CSW (from the UN web site): “Following the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, the General Assembly mandated the Commission to integrate into its programme a follow-up process to the Conference, regularly reviewing the critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action and to develop its catalytic role in mainstreaming a gender perspective in United Nations activities.”    In other words, CSW is to keep track of progress since 1995 and to work towards fulfillment of the resolutions made in Beijing.

Here are the core issues:

A. Women and poverty

B. Education and training of women

C.  Women and health

D. Violence against women (main focus of 57th CSW this year)

E. Women and armed conflict

F. Women and the economy

G. Women in power and decision-making

H. Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women

I. Human rights of women

J. Women and the media

K. Women and the environment

L. The girl child

Let’s start with (A) Women and Poverty and see where this take us.     Of those in poverty in the world, including the US, more are women and children than men.   Even in the US, the 2012 Census shows that women were 29% more likely to be poor than men, with a poverty rate of 14.5% for women compared to 11.2% for men.  (From Legal Momentum web site).  Single mothers are the hardest hit – 40.7% of single mothers were in poverty.  Actually, in all categories identifying poor and comparing women to men, women have the higher percentage.   Poverty affects women more than men.

Let’s look at the global scale –  I can’t say it any better than The Hunger Project web site, so here goes:

World Population

  • 6.8 billion1

World Hunger

  • 870 million people do not have enough to eat — more than the populations of USA and the European Union combined.2
  • 98% of the world’s undernourished people live in developing countries.2
  • Two-thirds of the world’s hungry live in just 7 countries: Bangladesh, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan.2

Women and Children

  • 60 percent of the world’s hungry are women.4
  • 50 percent of pregnant women in developing countries lack proper maternal care, resulting in over 300,000 maternal deaths annually from childbirth.4
  • 1 out of 6 infants are born with a low birth weight in developing countries.5
  • Malnutrition is the key factor contributing to more than one-third of all global child deaths resulting in 2.6 million deaths per year.14
  • A third of all childhood death in sub-Saharan Africa is caused by hunger.6
  • •       Every five seconds, a child dies from hunger-related diseases.6

So – just saying – poverty is a problem that affects women and children more than men in the world.

I am going to bring up a hot topic because it is one that is so pervasive in the US and one that we saw played out during the recent presidential campaign.   Many conservative politicians proclaim their opposition to abortion.   It is loud and clear.  The churches are clearly against abortion.  OK – where are the same voices over the children that are lost daily from hunger related diseases?   Every 5 seconds a child dies from hunger related diseases:  that is 17,280 children per day.     Over 6.3 million children per year.

Where are the politicians when it comes to aid for the hungry?     Here is a quote about Paul Ryan:

Bruce Lesley, the president of First Focus Campaign for Children, agrees, saying, “Chairman Ryan’s actions — spearheading a budget that cuts the Child Tax Credit, dramatically increases the number of uninsured children, cuts investments in child abuse and neglect prevention and response, cuts child nutrition, and increases out-of-pocket child care costs for working parents — speak a lot louder than his words, when it comes to addressing child poverty.”

What about birth control so that women can avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place?   We have heard the outcry that Obamacare is anti-religion for having insurance coverage of birth control.   Just can’t seem to win, but I digress.

As for global aid, 1% of the 2013 US budget is for aid, (roughly $51b) not including projects in Afghanistan and Iraq (these are under defense).   According to the US State Dept., this sum “provides the most cost-effective way to ensure diplomats and development experts have the resources necessary to address complex threats to our national security and promote our economic renewal. “      Interesting that the reason for aid is to address our needs.    I would bet that most Americans think that aid to other countries is out of the goodness of our hearts – that we are a country that cares.   Do we?

What’s the cost to end hunger in the world?  Estimates vary.  One article stated in 2010 the cost would be $143b annually that would be shared among countries.   The UN Millennium Development Goals suggests that if all rich countries provide 0.7% of GNI (gross national income) annually, we could end hunger.   That would be $91b for the US – still under 2% of budget.

Can we save women and children?

Will we?


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One Comment
  1. Just a quick note. This is Kathryn… and my UN blog is under I’d suggest follow back mine too so that we can keep the motion going forward. 🙂

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