U.N. Calls For Investing In Women To Ensure Economic Recovery, Reduce ‘Health Gap’

To mark World Population Day on July 11, U.N. officials are calling for investment in women and girls during the global financial crisis as a way to promote economic recovery and tackle poverty and inequality, afrol News reports. “There is no smarter investment in troubled times,” Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, executive director of UNFPA, said. According to Obaid, even before the financial downturn, women and girls were the majority of the world’s poor. “Now, they are falling deeper into poverty and face increased health risks, especially if they are pregnant,” she said, adding that the “health gap” will get bigger “unless we increase social investments, maintain health gains and expand efforts to save more women’s lives.”

Obaid said world leaders should make women’s health and rights a political and development priority. She also highlighted the cost-effectiveness of reproductive health investments. “An investment in contraceptive services can be recouped four times over – and sometimes dramatically more over the long term – by reducing the need for public spending on health, education and other social services.” In a statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on decision-makers to “protect women’s ability to earn income, keep their daughters in school, and obtain reproductive health information and services, including voluntary family planning.”

“UNFPA estimates that more than 500,000 women die each year during pregnancy and childbirth from mostly preventable and treatable medical problems. For every woman who dies, another 20 women suffer injuries and disabilities that can last a lifetime,” afrol News writes. According to UNFPA, Africa has a maternal mortality rate at least 100 times those in developed countries (7/13).