"In study after study, girls' education emerges as the
single best investment that any society can make," UNICEF Executive Director Carol
Bellamy said at a forum at the August 13-17 Girls' Education Movement Conference in
Kampala, Uganda. "Educated girls become educated women - women who participate in the
social, political and economic life of their nation," Bellamy said in an August 22
story disseminated by Africa News link
. The conference concluded with an 11-point "platform of action" that called for
concerted advocacy with government for greater resources; the participation of girls in
decisions that affect them; the abolition of harmful practices that are barriers to girls'
education; and the provision of equal opportunities for girls in scientific subjects. The
platform will be presented in New York at the UN Special Session on Children in September.
The Associated Press link
also covered the conference.
[NOTE: Go to PLANetWIRE.org for a current feature story on Girls' Education link .]
The Government of Pakistan and UNICEF's Regional Office for
South Asia held a symposium on South Asian Girls. The Business Recorder (Pakistan)
reported on August 16 that a symposium resolution calls on adults and boys to help end all
forms of discrimination against girls, involve them as equal partners and provide them
with equal opportunities in processes and decisions that affect them. The symposium also
drew attention to harmful practices that damage the physical and psychological health of
girls. "Such practices include violence, early marriage, early and too frequent
pregnancies, lack of rest, heavy domestic work load and unhealthy living and working
Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands are now treating
trafficked prostitutes more as rape victims than criminals. The Los Angeles Times reported
on August 17 that these governments offer shelter, protection and residency permits to
trafficked prostitutes so they can help identify and prosecute their exploiters. Italy
also offers schooling, job training and employment to help them start new lives.
Women in Jamaica who are faced with possible life
imprisonment for terminating their pregnancies resort to dangerous and sometimes deadly
methods of abortion. These include the labor-inducing misoprostol, taken at up to four
times the recommended dosage, said gynecologist Errol Daley, vice president of the Medical
Association of Jamaica, in an August 21 story by InterPress Service link . The New
York Times Magazine link
featured an August 26 story on Dr. Rebecca Gomperts and her Women on Waves organization
that offers reproductive health assistance, including abortion, on a fully-equipped ship
called the Aurora, sailing it to women where abortion is illegal or highly restricted.
Gomperts described her motivation this way: "In my trips with Greenpeace, I became
aware of the enormous and invisible suffering of women due to illegal abortions. To me,
this is a basic human rights issue." In the article's final analysis of Women on
Wave's first mission to Ireland, it said, "It may be hard to say whether Rebecca
Gomperts succeeded or failed in Ireland." "Even though the details didn't work
out exactly right, Gomperts ignited something," said feminist Eleanor Smeal. ''This
was a first step.'' Elle Magazine link also
featured Gomperts and Women on Waves in its September 2001 issue.
More than 7 million people could be infected with HIV/AIDS
in South Africa in the next 10 years, the South African government reports. According to
an August 17 story by United Press International, the report found that women are at
greater risk of infection due to biological, social and economic factors. AIDS activists
and a group of pediatricians sued the government, demanding it provide the anti-retroviral
drug nevirapine to help HIV-infected pregnant women avoid transmitting the virus to their
babies. The Associated Press link
reported August 21 that the suit also demands the South African government develop a clear
national policy to help reduce mother-child transmission. It should provide mothers with
voluntary counseling and testing at prenatal clinics and with infant formula to prevent
transmission through breast milk, the suit said.
The World Health Organization warned that adult AIDS death
rates in Asia will rise by 40 percent in the coming decade in areas most affected --
Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and a few states in India, according to an August 24 story by
Agence France Press. In a recent trip to clinics, blood banks and hospitals in four
Chinese provinces, U.S. experts found that current pilot HIV-prevention programs are too
small, and that few Chinese know how to avoid catching the virus. The Associated Press link reported on August
30 that Helene Gayle, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's center
for preventing HIV, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases, said, "It really
will be the sexual transmission that will lead to a generalized epidemic in this country
and a global and human catastrophe." China this month announced new spending and
measures to slow HIV infections. The Washington Post link reported
August 24 that the Chinese government now estimates more than 600,000 Chinese have the
virus, although U.N. experts say 20 million could be infected by 2010 unless effective
measures are taken.
International Family Planning Policy
featured a story in its September 3 issue on an area to which, it said, few Americans are
paying attention: President Bush's pro-life foreign policies. Bush's efforts to mollify
religious conservatives with his rumored choice of John M. Klink to head the State
Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration is now on hold, with religious
groups backing his appointment and pro-choice activists vowing to derail it. The
Washington Post link 's
"In the Loop" column featured a section also criticizing Klink's rumored
nomination titled "Nomination Doing the Limbo" on August 29.
In addition, "the Bush administration also expects to
send a high-level delegation to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session in
September on children despite continuing concerns that the final declaration will endorse
abortion services and counseling," said the State Department's spokesman Richard
Boucher. The Washington Post link
reported August 29 that Boucher's comments came after the State Department said the United
States might not send high-level representatives to the three-day conference in New York.
The Post link
story also quoted a senior State Department official that Secretary of State Colin L.
Powell likely would not attend but that Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige or Health
and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson could be tapped. The Associated Press link and
The New York Times link
also reported on this.
Paul Hewitt, director of the Washington-based Center for
Strategic and International Studies' global aging initiative, said in an August 27 story
by The Associated Press link
that global aging was among the most important problems the world would face in the first
half of the 21st century. Another Associated Press story reported August 29 that the
challenges of global aging are fundamental, unprecedented and potentially destabilizing to
global prosperity. Pension and labor shortfalls are the most daunting hurdles facing
Europe, Japan and other parts of the developed world. Japan, with the world's fastest
aging population, is ground zero in the global debate.
The United Nations World Water Forum 2001 in Stockholm,
Sweden revealed grim statistics that about 450 million people in 29 countries lack
adequate water supplies, with Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa suffering the
most. At the plenary session at the forum, international water management expert Jay
Narayan Vyas warned that adverse consequences of the global shortage of water for
sustainable development, human health and food security are a matter of great concern,
according to an August 23 article by The Times of India. He added that more than 800
million people -- roughly 15 percent of the world's population, and especially women and
children --are most at risk.
"Efforts in Zambia to provide clean water and
sanitation are failing to keep pace with the rapid growth of its population," said
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) resident representative Dr. Stella Goings at the
27th Water, Engineering and Development Center Conference. According to an August 21 story
disseminated by Africa News link,
UNICEF chose to look at the provision of water and sanitation as central to all efforts in
ensuring the well-being of children and the realization of their rights. In addition, a
report by the International Food Policy Research Institute found that Africa will have 6
million more malnourished children in 2020 than it did in 1997, a rise of 18 percent,
reported Reuters link on
August 28. "Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to remain a hot spot of hunger and
malnutrition for years to come," the report said. The group, funded by 58 governments
and international organizations, based its research on the assumption that the world's
population would reach 7.5 billion people in 2020, up from 6 billion in 2000.
In response to Arnold Beichman's August 14 commentary in
The Washington Times, Amy Coen, President of Population Action International, wrote in an
August 20 letter that Beichman's use of University of Aarhus, Denmark, statistics
professor Bjorn Lomborg's conclusions "prompt a false sense of relief regarding the
status of world health and greatly undermine the importance of programs that work to
eliminate poverty and improve environmental and living conditions across the globe."
The Los Angeles Times link
featured an August 26 op ed by Sara Seims, president of the Alan Guttmacher Institute,
noting that many developing countries struggle to improve their family-planning programs
in environments of extreme hardship, while in the United States we are spending far too
much time, energy and money just to protect the progress already made. In other countries,
family planning is viewed as a matter of public health rather than politics. There is
absolutely no reason why American women, particularly young women, should not have the
same high levels of reproductive health as other women worldwide.
On August 31, The Washington Times ran a letter by Anika
Rahman, Director of the International Program at the Center for Reproductive Law and
Policy (CRLP), responding to Austin Ruse's August 26 commentary titled "Pro-Choice
and Pro-U.N." She said he had misrepresented the CRLP's lawsuit challenging the Bush
administration's global gag rule. "This lawsuit is about cherished American
principles: the rights to freedom of speech and association. It is not about any funding
that CRLP receives. We have never accepted any U.S. funds," the letter said.
The above analysis was written by Elena M. H.
Cabatu and Kathy Bonk at the Communications Consortium Media Center, 1200 New York Avenue,
NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005, 202/326-8700.
If you would like your name to be added to their email
service, please e-mail your request to