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Opinions: Empowering Women, Reducing Global Hunger; Wars Justified By Humanitarianism; Climate Change, Human Health; Budget Cuts To Foreign Aid

To Reduce Hunger Worldwide, Empower Women

In a perspective piece in The Globalist, Contributing Editor Cesar Chelala calls for more attention to be paid to the role of women in reducing hunger worldwide. “Giving women the same tools and resources as men, such as financial support, education and access to markets, could reduce the number of hungry people worldwide by up to 150 million, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),” he writes. Nonetheless, “[t]here is little recognition of the critical role that women can play in increasing agricultural productivity and businesses.”

“Several years of work at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) have proven that improving women farmers’ access to adequate resources, technologies, markets and property rights can help them increase agricultural productivity and improve household nutrition,” he writes, adding, “Women should have easier access to better seeds, fertilizers and time-saving technologies as well as better access to credit, land and job opportunities” (4/11).

Wars Justified By Humanitarism Pose Challenges

“All wars are terrifying gambles, but the wars justified with moral claims of humanitarianism carry a distinctively harrowing set of risks and problems – above all, the challenge of preventing massive human catastrophes with limited means,” Gary Bass, professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece. “In Libya, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama are already beginning to confront many of the classic dilemmas that bedeviled their predecessors facing massacres and genocide in Somalia, Bosnia and Rwanda,” he writes.

Bass outlines several major problems associated with such interventions, writing, “Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama have acted on principle in Libya. If Benghazi had gone down in history as another Srebrenica, they would surely have regretted it, much as President Clinton now regrets not acting in Rwanda. Their problem now is that virtue is not its own political reward, even if the war goes well – and especially if the war goes badly,” he concludes (4/8).

The Impact Of Climate Change On Health

In a Huffington Post opinion piece, Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, and Dan Ferber, a science journalist, describe the potential impact of global warming on health. For instance, “Warming temperatures allow disease-carrying mosquitoes to spread out of the tropics and higher into the mountains, bringing malaria, dengue fever, and other currently tropical diseases with them,” write Epstein and Ferber, who are co-authors of the book “Changing Planet, Changing Health.”

Epstein and Ferber describe several technological advances that would “benefit human health and the environment,” before noting, “Policies must change as well. We need to rejigger the international financial system to encourage countries to invest in measures that protect their environment and the health of their citizens. To promote good health in the 21st century, we need to become resilient and adaptable” (4/8).

Budget Cuts Will Have Quantifiable Impact On Human Health

In a Washington Post opinion piece, columnist Michael Gerson responds to some of the backlash over USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s recent testimony to the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations subcommittee that the proposed House budget bill would kill 70,000 children: “It is not realistic to take credit for cuts while forbidding a discussion of their consequences. Republicans were drawn into this debate when they proposed major reductions in foreign assistance, believing this category of spending to be an easy political target.” 

Gerson continues, “[G]lobal health programs are not analogous to many other categories of federal spending, such as job training programs or support for public television. A child either receives malaria treatment or does not. The resulting risk of death is quantifiable. The outcome of returning to 2008 spending levels, as Republicans propose, is predictable.”

He offers a breakdown of how USAID calculated the impact of potential budget cuts on malaria treatments and subsequent deaths, writing, “Fiscal conservatives tend to justify these reductions as shared sacrifice. But not all sacrifices are shared equally. Some get a pay freeze. Some get a benefit adjustment. Others get a fever and a small coffin. This is not fiscal prudence. It is the prioritization of the most problematic spending cuts – a disproportionate emphasis on the least justifiable reductions” (4/7).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.