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Opinions: GAVI; Haitian Women; Clinton’s Foreign Policy

Sufficient Support Of GAVI Would Go Long Way To Preventing Premature Deaths Around The World 

“Vaccines are among the greatest scientific contributions to human welfare. They are also some of the largest humanitarian contributions of developed nations to the rest of the world. So it is unfortunate that a decade of vaccine controversy has overshadowed a decade of vaccine miracles,” Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson writes in an opinion piece reflecting on the contributions of the GAVI Alliance over the past decade.

Among many things, “the alliance … has employed the free market instead of fighting it. It has raised private capital, and … has made advance commitments to purchase vaccines, in exchange for pledges by pharmaceutical companies to expand production and provide vaccines at lower prices,” Gerson writes. “The result? By the end of 2008, 192 million children had received vaccinations against hepatitis B, and 41.8 million were protected against Hib (a type of bacteria that causes meningitis). During the alliance’s first decade, GAVI-funded vaccines for these diseases – along with vaccines for pertussis, measles, yellow fever and polio – prevented more than 5 million premature deaths.”

“Many global problems are desperate but seem beyond our ability to comprehend or resolve. Sufficient support for GAVI from governments, foundations and individuals would solve much of the problem it is tackling. The answer for millions of dying children does not need to be invented, studied or tested. All this has already been done. Their hope lies within a locked room. And those with keys gain responsibilities,” he concludes (1/18).

Women Must Be Top Priority As International Community Helps Haitian Rebuilding Effort

“In the long list of challenges facing Haiti, going to the restroom shouldn’t be one of them. Yet in Haiti’s sprawling tent cities, something as simple as a lighted pathway to the latrine can make a huge difference for a woman trying to survive the night without fear of sexual violence. In some of the larger camps, rapes are almost a daily occurrence,” Kathy Calvin, CEO of the United Nations Foundation, writes in Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece.

According to Calvin, “relatively simple actions,” such as providing light in dark area, “can go a long way toward improving the safety and welfare of women living in tent cities.” Calvin details some of the other challenges facing women in Haiti, such as access to reproductive health services.

“With about 43 percent of households headed by women, they must be at the top of the international community’s agenda for Haiti. As the country rebuilds and people move from tent cities to more permanent dwellings, it is critically important that we support employment opportunities for women and provide education for girls,” she writes, adding that “protecting women and girls in Haiti’s tent cities” is a necessary start (1/16).

Clinton’s ‘Feminist’ Foreign Policy

In a Guardian opinion piece, columnist Madeleine Bunting writes that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton “is the most powerful politician to advance an explicitly feminist agenda.” Bunting highlights several ways in which Clinton has made women and girls central to U.S. foreign policy.

“From the start Clinton left no one in any doubt where she stood: women’s rights are ‘the signature issue’ of this administration’s foreign policy, she said. She mentioned women 450 times in speeches in the first five months in office. ‘Transformation of the role of women is the last great impediment to universal progress,’ she declared, and began to develop what is her standard line: women’s issues are integral to the achievement of every goal of U.S. foreign policy,” according to Bunting. “Links have been drawn between gross gender inequality and political extremism. Women are crucial on issues such as food security (women produce most of the food that feeds the world), health, education and democracy,” Bunting adds, noting several examples of Clinton’s policies that focus on women. She mentions Clinton’s instrumental role in the launch of U.N. Women and the clean cookstove initiative.

“Clinton is careful to couch her feminism in talk of U.S. interests and splice it into a hawkish toughness to reassure her domestic audience. She has picked her issues carefully, and made some big compromises to keep people on side. Her feminism has obviously been helpful for the Obama administration, which is anxious to redesign U.S. foreign policy in the midst of two disastrous foreign wars. It could still reap dividends for women, but the question is: will it be quietly sidelined when no longer useful?” Bunting writes (1/16).

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