UNICEF flagship report says gender equality benefits both women and children
By Rachel Bonham-Carter
NEW YORK, USA, 10 December 2006 – On its 60th anniversary today, UNICEF is launching a report that says gender equality is critical to child survival and development.
“The lives of women are inextricably linked to the well-being of children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “If they are not educated, if they are not healthy, if they are not empowered, the children are the ones who suffer.”
The State of the World’s Children 2007, this year’s edition of UNICEF’s flagship publication, examines the status of women around the world. It concludes that an end to gender discrimination produces the ‘double dividend’ of benefiting women and children – which, in turn, has a positive impact on the health and development of societies everywhere.
The report argues that recent progress in women’s status has not come far enough. Millions of girls and women continue to live in poverty, disempowered and discriminated against. They are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, less likely to attend school and often subject to physical and sexual violence. In most places, men continue to earn more pay than women for the same jobs.
Women need a voice
Empowering women, explains the report, saves children’s lives – and the impact is too important to ignore. As one example it cites a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute, which concludes there would be 13.4 million fewer undernourished children in South Asia if men and women there had equal influence in decision-making.
Moreover, the report finds, in families where women are the main decision-makers, a far greater proportion of household resources is devoted to child health, nutrition and education than in families where women do not have a voice.
Yet in only 10 out of 30 developing countries surveyed did 50 per cent or more of women participate in all household decisions.
Seven key interventions
The report suggests seven key interventions for gender equality:
‘The State of the World’s Children 2007’ shows that in the long run, empowering women will enhance efforts to reach all of the other Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
NOTE TO EDITOR
About SOWC: The State of the World’s Children is UNICEF’s annual flagship publication. It is the most comprehensive survey of global trends affecting children. In addition to analysis of major issues, it provides a complete almanac of up-to-date statistical data on children.
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