Good News Agency – Year XII, n° 199
Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists in 54 countries and to 3,000 NGOs and 1,600 high schools, colleges and universities.
It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, an educational charity associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project (2001-2010) presented to the UN General Assembly, Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing a major role in the field of Information via Internet*.
UN S-G on International Women's Day, 8 March
As guardian of international
humanitarian law, the ICRC reminds parties to the conflict of their obligations
under this branch of law, and participates in the development of the law. The
ICRC has been visiting detainees and assisting people in need, many of them
displaced throughout the decades of internal armed conflicts in the
Landmine ban campaign revs up
6 March - On March 1st a global campaign was launched to put an end within our lifetime to the relentless destruction caused by landmines. Around the world, people are joining together in solidarity to take a stand, to step forward and to ‘Lend a Leg for a mine free world’, all through the simple gesture of rolling up their pants leg.
Launched on the 13th anniversary of the adoption of the International Mine Ban Treaty and running until International Mines Awareness Day on April 4th, ‘Lend Your Leg’ is a month long call to action – for civil society, governments and partners – to work diligently together to a make a mine free world a reality.
Since the Mine Ban Treaty became law 13 years ago, 80 per cent of the world’s countries have banned landmines, millions of mines have been removed from the ground and billions of dollars have been invested into land release, survivor assistance and mine risk education.
Ban welcomes political deal reached at Somali constitutional conference
19 February – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the political agreement reached by Somalis at a national constitutional conference, saying the accord “sets out clear steps for ending the transition and putting in place a constitutional order” in the war-scarred, impoverished country.
The TFIs are in the process of implementing a roadmap devised in September last year. That roadmap spells out priority measures to be carried out before the current transitional governing arrangements end in August. Mr. Ban said in today's statement that he particularly welcomed the commitment to include a minimum of 30 per cent women in the Independent Electoral Commission, the Constituent Assembly and the new Federal Parliament.
Millennium Development Goal drinking water target met
Sanitation target still lagging far behind
New York/Geneva, 6 March – The world has met the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water, well in advance of the MDG 2015 deadline, according to a report issued today by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO). Between 1990 and 2010, over two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources, such as piped supplies and protected wells.
The report, http://www.unicef.org/media/media_61922.html, by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, says at the end of 2010 89 per cent of the world’s population, or 6.1 billion people, used improved drinking water sources. This is one per cent more than the 88 per cent MDG target. The report estimates that by 2015 92 per cent of the global population will have access to improved drinking water.
The report highlights, however, that the world is still far from meeting the MDG target for sanitation, and is unlikely to do so by 2015. Only 63 per cent of the world now have improved sanitation access, a figure projected to increase only to 67 per cent by 2015, well below the 75 per cent aim in the MDGs. Currently 2.5 billion people still lack improved sanitation.
UNICEF and WHO also cautioned that since the measurement of water quality is not possible globally, progress towards the MDG target of safe drinking water is measured through gathering data on the use of improved drinking water sources. Significant work must be done to ensure that improved sources of water are and remain safe.
During the past months, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has consistently highlighted sustainable development as a priority issue for the UN, arguing that the upcoming conference, known as <http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.html> Rio+20, will help pave the way for a new social contract for the 21st century and chart a development path that leads to greater social justice.
In celebrating the 100-day mark, expected participants of the Rio+20 forum, including global stakeholders and UN system partners, will take to social media and share messages of support and highlight the more important issues and objectives of the summit, slated to take place in Rio de Janeiro from 20 to 22 June.
More than 100 heads of State, along with thousands of parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, CEOs, and civil society leaders will come together at Rio+20 to shape and adopt new policies and measures to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.
N.Y. housing charity opens for-profit mortgage arm
March 9 – A prominent nonprofit group that has worked for decades to build affordable housing for low- and middle-income New Yorkers has opened a commercial banking office to help some buyers secure home loans, The Wall Street Journal writes. The Housing Partnership, founded three decade ago by the wealthy banker David Rockefeller, is branching out to write loans and expand credit availability, particularly for would-be residents of subsidized housing.
Dan Martin, the partnership’s president, said the move is the “next logical step” for the organization as federal funding declines for building new affordable homes. The group plans to provide about 200 loans in its first year.
The mortgage operation
occupies space at the partnership’s
FAO and IFAD’s publication on rural institutions to help small producers reduce poverty
March 1, Rome – FAO’s Director General and IFAD’s President agree on the fact that strong rural organizations like producer groups and cooperatives are crucial to hunger reduction because they allow small producers to play a greater role in national and international markets: from this thinking a new publication, “Good Practices in building innovative rural institutions to increase food security”, that presents 35 cases of successful institutional innovations. The case studies describe services and resources that these new models of public-private engagement can offer to small –scale producers: managing natural resources, providing seeds and equipment, enabling access to markets and improving communication. The case studies also demonstrate the importance of including youth in small producer organizations and show how rural organizations can help women farmers to overcome the social and economic constraints.
IFAD, the Saudi Fund for Development and the Arab Bank for Economic Development of Africa come together to start a successful collaboration
Important meeting between Bill Gates and FAO’s Director General to improve information, productivity and market access for small farmers
launches agricultural program to improve food security, empower women farmers
in South Asia and
CARE's Pathways initiative is supported by a $15 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which joins additional funders such as AusAID and the Aga Khan Foundation.
Applying CARE's integrated approach to food security, market engagement and women's empowerment, Pathways will reach women who farm fewer than five acres of land and who are not typically served by other development programs.
Pathways will go well beyond urgent, yet short-term solutions for women smallholder farmers. The model ensures that elements such as strengthening sustainable community-based organizations, empowering women to build agricultural-based businesses, providing essential skills like financial literacy and improved and sustainable agricultural practices, and building self-sustaining relationships between women, their households members, service providers and markets, will ensure the program benefits these women and their communities beyond the five-year life of the program. Pathways will also evaluate the model's effectiveness and share lessons broadly
“Hunger Games” movie cast launch a video public service announcement and a new website to raise awareness about world hunger
February 21, Rome – The
Government of Brazil signed a 2.375 million dollar agreement with FAO and WFP
for funding a new food purchase programme that will help vulnerable populations
in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger and Senegal.
CSX and Dignity U Wear work to deliver self-esteem to thousands of children this month
Jacksonville, Fla., USA, March 9 - CSX Corporation, in partnership with Dignity U Wear, today announced that they will provide $110,000 worth of clothing to thousands of school children of all ages in 11 cities as part of its company-wide “Delivering Dignity” campaign.
Clothing, funded with money raised over the holiday season by CSX employees in each of its 10 divisions, will be delivered through local charities.
Dignity U Wear is a national
organization based in
year after the great east
To continue this support, the
NKSJ Group organized NKSJ Volunteer Days from October through December 2011 and
encouraged all Group employees to participate in the activities. Around 60
activities were held across
HelpAge wins US$1.5 million Hilton Prize
Announced on International Women's Day
The award is the world's largest humanitarian prize, and is presented each year to an organisation that has delivered extraordinary work to alleviate human suffering.
Steven M. Hilton, CEO and
president of the Hilton Foundation said: : "The
world is ageing. By 2015, over 890 million people will be over 60. HelpAge is showing us that it is important to recognise and
support older people so they can continue contributing to society." The
Prize was announced on 8 March to recognise the crucial role rural older women
play in their communities and it will be presented at the Global Philanthropy Forum on 16
Five organizations in
by Karen Bliss, www.samaritanmag.com
8 March – TOMS Shoes, the One
for One company that for the past eight years has been donating one pair of
shoes to a child in need for every pair it sells, is now doing a similar thing
with its brand new Italian-made eyewear collection. Available beginning March
15 at TOMS.ca and select retailers across
Started in 1978 by World Health Organization's Dr. Larry Brilliant (now the president of Skoll Global Threats Fund), Seva is an international non-profit that fights blindness and poverty.
Working in Asia, Africa, and
UN support for volunteerism
February 24 – The United Nations released its resolution on the 10th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers 2011 this month. The resolution emphasizes the contribution of volunteering to sustainable development, human development, and peace. It also acknowledges the importance of NGOs to the promotion of volunteerism - and in that respect recognizes that strengthening the dialogue and interaction among governments, the UN and civil society contributes to the expansion of volunteerism.
The resolution also invites governments to integrate volunteering more fully into policy programs and initiatives; and calls on governments and relevant UN bodies and organizations to continue to support and promote volunteerism. Volunteers are also encouraged to take part in UN and other relevant international conferences. - - Go here to read the full resolution.
February 21 –
The seven-day intervention
assisted 720 families with approximately
"Access to the affected areas was a huge challenge because the bridges were impassable", shared one officer from ADRA Philippines in the affected area. "ADRA workers and volunteers were able to reach the affected areas and distributed the goods until the middle of the night. It was so dark because electrical posts were down and ADRA's emergency response officers had to use flashlights".
Congo: UN peacekeeping mission receives tactical helicopters from
7 March – The United Nations
peacekeeping chief today expressed his gratitude to
Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping
Operations, was referring to
He noted that MONUSCO is one of the UN’s most challenging peacekeeping missions, and that the recent shortage of military helicopters had made its work more difficult.
UEFA began its partnership
with the ICRC in 1997 with support for its anti-landmine campaign. All monies
donated go to the Score for the Red Cross campaign supporting the ICRC
rehabilitation project providing landmine victims in
The ICRC's limb-fitting and rehabilitation programme has helped more than 106,000 mine victims and other disabled people since it was established in 1988. Apart from supporting their physical rehabilitation, the ICRC also helps disabled people play an active role in society by financing education, vocational training, employment and small-business activities.
conducts peer-support workshop in
On 6, 7 and 8 March, CISR’s Director Ken Rutherford and CISR’s
Trauma Rehabilitation Specialist Cameron Macauley
conducted a workshop in Dong Hoi,
The workshop was conducted in partnership with the Association for the Empowerment of People with Disabilities (AEPD), a Vietnamese NGO established by Survivor Corps more than 10 years ago. Founded principally to help survivors of injuries caused by landmines and unexploded ordnance, AEPD now assists people with a variety of disabilities, particularly those affected by Agent Orange, which causes birth defects and tumors and has left more than 100,000 Vietnamese severely disabled.
discussed in the workshop included basic counseling
skills, how to deal with depression and isolation, and practical considerations
such as how to deal with barriers to mobility and lack of employment
opportunities. Time was devoted to the formation and management of
community-support groups for people with disabilities and to the international
rights of people with disabilities, which are protected by
29 February – The United
Nations atomic watchdog has called today’s announcement by the
DPRK has agreed to suspend
uranium enrichment activities and nuclear weapons tests and allow inspectors
from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to verify compliance with
these measures, while the
phase of underwater UXO clearance of
24 February - The 3rd Phase of Underwater UXO Clearance of
Lake Ohrid (locations: Ohrid
Harbor and Peshtani) has started on 22
February 2012 and is financed by United States Department of State, Bureau of
Political-Military Affairs, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA),
through ITF. The 3rd phase will last for 28 operational days and is implemented
by specialized diving teams for underwater demining
and EOD specialists from
The absence of fear of UXO at
the shores of
is clearing a key trade route in northern
22 February - The Wadi Chirke area, between the
towns of Fada and Kiké, is
littered with anti-personnel and anti-tank mines laid by occupation forces
during the war with
Seven people have been reported killed and six injured by mines in the Fada area alone within the last decade. The contamination has blocked usage of the road, and this has stifled trade and development in the region as vehicles have been forced to take detours of hundreds of kilometres.
Several different mine action organisations have worked in the area over the last 10 years, beginning clearance and marking the dangerous areas, but the vastness of Wadi Chirke means that large amounts of contamination still remain.
MAG began work here in November and, following careful assessment of the whole site, now has three teams carrying out manual clearance on different sections of the minefield.
Deep sand in many parts means that deminers have to go over each square metre of land multiple times, with scorpions, snakes, sandstorms and temperatures of over 40ºc in peak season to contend. It is difficult, but hugely valuable, work.
International Women’s Day - Celebrating the female vaccinator
On 8 March, as the world celebrates International Women’s Day, let us take some time to think of these remarkable women and the work they are doing to ensure that children everywhere are safe from the threat of polio.
Out there in two continents right now, there is a dedicated, yet largely unacknowledged army of women devoted to ensuring that polio is eradicated. Dressed in uniforms of fluttering burkhas in vivid sky blue or sober black, jewel tone saris or vibrant African prints, these women walk from door to door, talking to families, giving vaccine – all to protect children against polio.
In many countries, a
vaccination team cannot function without a female vaccinator. In conservative
areas, where male vaccinators can not enter the house, having a woman on the
team can mean the difference between a closed door or
a welcoming invitation into the home. In northern
Able to speak woman to woman,
mother to mother or grandmother to mother, female vaccinators can hold a great
degree of sway. By showing that they are willing to have their own children
vaccinated against polio, vaccinators who are mothers demonstrate to wary
parents that they have the children’s best interests at heart. And in parts of
The role that women vaccinators and social mobilizers play in polio eradication is not only of benefit for parents and caregivers. For the women themselves, the programme has offered a unique opportunity to have a respected voice as health providers in their community, and to find professional fulfillment through something beyond their role as wife and mother.
In India alone, it is estimated that a staggering 80-85% of the 2.3 million vaccinators involved during each round of National Immunization Days are female workers - this includes Auxiliary Nurse Midwives, Accredited Social Health Activists (known as ASHAs), front-line workers of the social welfare department (Anganwadi workers) and volunteers. In addition, nearly 70% of the 155,000 supervisors that oversee the work of these vaccinators are female. In the once traditional polio reservoirs of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, more than 92% of the 128,000 vaccination teams have at least one female vaccinator as a team-member, while UNICEF's 8000-strong Social Mobilization Network, which goes door to door spreading messages about polio and routine immunization, exclusive breast-feeding, nutrition, handwashing and diarrhea treatment, is almost exclusively made up of women.
By Dan Nixon
8 March, Rotary International
News - The
World Health Organization has officially removed
"It is a matter of
satisfaction that we have completed one year without any single new case of
polio being reported from anywhere in the country," said Indian Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh at the summit, which was
organized by the government of India and Rotary International. "This gives
us hope that we can finally eradicate polio not only from
Robert S. Scott, chair of
Rotary's International PolioPlus Committee, calls
Deepak Kapur, chair of the India PolioPlus Committee, also credits the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for its commitment to ending polio. To date, the Indian government has spent more than US$1.2 billion on domestic polio eradication activities. "We are fortunate that our government is our biggest advocate in this effort," Kapur says.
The 6,950-pound (approximately 3,150-kilogram) shipment is made up of 162 boxes of medicines and medical supplies and comes as part of Boeing's Humanitarian Delivery Flights program.
On a previous delivery flight
in February, Boeing and Uzbekistan Airways partnered with the Seattle-Tashkent
Sister City Association and the
"Uzbekistan Airways is
constantly looking at ways to contribute to the development and benefit of the
community and we are happy to be working with Boeing and Project Hope to
transport medical supplies to
Khost is one of
The 56-bed maternity will be the first specialised center of its kind in the region. The maternity has a delivery room that offers obstetric care for normal and complicated deliveries and an operating theatre for emergency obstetric surgery. Ill pregnant women will be hospitalised in the wards, to which women will also be admitted after giving birth or undergoing surgery. There is a neo-natal ward for newborns requiring specialised care.
MSF’s international and Afghan staff will work together in the hospital. Only female doctors will tend to the patients. All healthcare services and medicines will be free of charge.
As in all MSF hospitals in
surgeons provide care and education in
Posted By Dr. Akpofure Peter Ekeh
March 2 – An 11-person Project
HOPE volunteer surgical team is in
There are only two active
surgeons in the entire nation of
In addition to the surgeries, we were also able to supply the hospital with needed equipment and supplies specifically requested by hospital staff, including soda lime for anesthesia machines. By hospital staff accounts, this was one of the best gifts they had received in a long time.
We also provided teaching for the doctors on site. There is great interest from the local health professionals for more educational missions like this one, which provide care for patients and education for local health professionals at the same time.
The only downside is that we wished we had more time.
Global grant project educates, supports new mothers with HIV
By Dan Nixon
1 March, Rotary International
News – Fifty doctors, nurses, and home-based health care workers in
With funding from a Rotary Foundation global grant, a vocational training team of two Rotarians and six other health care professionals from District 5170 (California, USA) conducted the weeklong workshop in Monrovia, which ended on 3 February. Workshop participants received resource books, information on diagnosing and treating HIV, and other materials as well.
Members of the local Rotary
Club of Sinkor,
for Peace improves burn care in the
27 February - Burn care
experts from a medical school and hospital in
The World Health Organization
estimates that between 4,000 and 5,000 people die from burn-related injuries in
The training mission represents a significant step forward in the collaboration among Physicians for Peace, PGH, Sentara Norfolk General and EVMS.
by Tommy Ramm
February 3 – As a long and trying 2011 came to a
close – a year in which floods that had ravaged
In an intense day that ran well into the night, the small group of ACT health workers in Los Nidos treated more than 300 patients. (...)ACT health brigade coordinator Stella Flórez said they saw more than twice the number of patients expected that day alone. This high demand for medical care was seen time and again throughout their visits to 50 villages in the area. ACT’s goal was to treat 1,600 children ages seven and under, as well as pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.(...)
access must reach rural and marginalized areas in
New York, March 13 - A UN report <http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=29255> launched today spotlights the need to address unequal water access in Europe, stressing that certain populations such as rural communities and marginalized groups are still not getting this vital resource.
The <http://www.unece.org/env/water/publications/pub.html>report, which was produced by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), provides guidance on how to address water access disparities, and showcases successful policies that have been implemented by governments, water operators and civil society.
“No one left behind: Good practices to ensure equitable access to water and sanitation” notes that access to improved water and sanitation solutions in rural areas in the pan-European region is 10 per cent lower than for urban areas, and suggests putting investment programmes in place to help reduce this gap.
In addition, the report underscores that social inclusion policies are needed to be able to provide water access to marginalized and vulnerable groups such as the homeless, disabled, sick, or those living in unsanitary housing, who are often unable to get access to safe drinking water.
New approach aims to slash cost of solar cells
By Bill Scanlon, NREL
7 March, Washington, D.C. - Solar-powered electricity prices could soon approach those of power from coal or natural gas thanks to collaborative research with solar start-up Ampulse Corporation at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Silicon wafers account for almost half the cost of today's solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, so reducing or eliminating wafer costs is essential to bringing prices down.
Current crystalline silicon technology, while high in energy conversion efficiency, involves processes that are complex, wasteful, and energy intensive. First, half the refined silicon is lost as dust in the wafer-sawing process, driving module costs higher. A typical 2-meter boule of silicon loses as many as 6,000 potential wafers during sawing. Second, the wafers produced are much thicker than necessary. To efficiently convert sunlight into electricity, they need only one-tenth the typical thickness.
NREL, DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and Ampulse have teamed on an approach to eliminate this waste and dramatically lower the cost of the finished solar panels. The aim is to create a less expensive alternative to wafer-based crystalline silicon solar cells.
By using a chemical vapor deposition process to grow the silicon on inexpensive foil, Ampulse is able to make the solar cells just thick enough to convert most of the solar energy into electricity.
The action was taken in
response to the killing of hundreds of elephants in the
Kirsty Bertarelli’s Green anthem now supporting WWF through iTunes release
February 29, Gland, Switzerland – Global conservation organization WWF has welcomed the release of an acoustic version of Kirsty Bertarelli's song “Green”, the proceeds of which are destined to support WWF conservation projects around the world.
Kirsty Bertarelli was inspired to produce an acoustic version of Green after she performed live at WWF's 50th anniversary Panda Ball last year. The lyrics of “Green” talk about the destruction of the environment and were influenced by Kirsty's experience of the issue, as well as of how much the next generation care about being the custodians of our planet.
Net proceeds from iTunes downloads of the acoustic version of Green will be donated to WWF.
Eighteen projects were chosen
from 500 proposals received as part of a new initiative announced 22 June 2011,
at the CEC Council’s meeting held in
A new 2012 film about African courage and communication excellence is available cost-free
January, the DVDs have been requested from 36 nations, including
This hopeful documentary gives
voices and faces to 200 courageous Muslims and Christians – diverse young women
and men – who unite successfully in Jos, central
Face to face and in small circles, they begin with ice-breakers and continue in depth to discover one another's equal humanity – fear, grief, needs, hopes, and concrete plans for a shared future. These determined young Nigerians illustrate how others worldwide can successfully connect and communicate to create authentic community. Order Your DVD provided and air-mailed without charge as a project of the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group of San Mateo County
To request the cost-free DVD, send your: (1) intended use and (2) full contact information: Name - Organization - Address - Phone - E-mail to LTraubman@igc.org
Syrian religious leaders unite to reject violence and call for national reconciliation
Larnaca, Cyprus, February 23 – More than 20 senior Muslim and Christian leaders from various denominations in Syria were joined by other leaders and concerned persons at this meeting convened by the Religions for Peace (RfP) Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Council. The meeting built upon the RfP MENA Council Marrakesh Declaration (16-17 November 2011), in which more than 70 religious leaders from the region committed to stand in solidarity with all vulnerable communities in MENA, to advocate for full religious freedoms across the region and to call on all religious believers to become a united force to help ensure that governments honor the full rights, protect and serve all of their citizens without exception.
At this historic meeting
selected to improve school effectiveness in
Run by local organizations, Zambian community schools have overcrowded classrooms and few resources. Community school students have low levels of achievement when compared to students from government schools. Teachers are often unpaid volunteers who lack teaching credentials or formal training. The new initiative will train teachers, assist head teachers to better support colleagues and plan for school improvement, increase student access to textbooks and other learning resources, and help communities advocate more effectively for children in the greatest need.
Thunderbird and IFRC launch online program for social sector leaders
The new online Certificate in Social and Voluntary Sector Leadership will examine how leaders can develop a framework for ethical decision-making, build a goal-orientated personal action plan, enhance their global mindset and explore international trends in the social and voluntary sector. Participants in the program should be individuals currently working in the social and voluntary sector hoping to build their leadership skills as well as those who are seeking to move into the humanitarian sector. (…)
Somali teens offered chance to complete education
February 27 – As the young refugee children of Somalia's famine begin to regain their strength under the watchful care of international relief organisations, many are heading back to class in one of the several elementary schools existing in the refugee camp of Bokolomanyo and other nearby camps in Dolo Ado, Ethiopia.
For their older brothers and
sisters, the nearest high school is more than
Access to a school and regular class attendance will be the first step in restoring some normalcy to the turbulent lives of these children. The first phase of construction will include four classrooms, an administrative office, storage rooms and living quarters for the school staff. Classrooms will be equipped with desks, blackboards, and teaching materials, and a new water and sanitation facility will provide the children and faculty with clean, running water.
* * * * * * *
International Women's Day, 8 March
Gender equality and the empowerment of women are gaining ground worldwide. There are more women Heads of State or Government than ever, and the highest proportion of women serving as Government ministers. Women are exercising ever greater influence in business. More girls are going to school, and are growing up healthier and better equipped to realize their potential.
Despite this momentum, there is a long way to go before women and girls can be said to enjoy the fundamental rights, freedom and dignity that are their birthright and that will guarantee their well-being. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the world’s rural areas. Rural women and girls — to whom this year’s International Women’s Day is devoted — make up one quarter of the global population, yet routinely figure at the bottom of every economic, social and political indicator, from income and education to health to participation in decision-making.
Numbering almost half a billion smallholder farmers and landless workers, rural women are a major part of the agricultural labour force. They perform most of the unpaid care work in rural areas. Yet rural women continue to be held back in fulfilling their potential. If rural women had equal access to productive resources, agricultural yields would rise by 4 per cent, strengthening food and nutrition security and relieving as many as 150 million people from hunger. Rural women, if given the chance, could also help end the hidden development tragedy of stunting, which affects almost 200 million children worldwide.
Discriminatory laws and practices affect not just women but entire communities and nations. Countries where women lack land ownership rights or access to credit have significantly more malnourished children. It makes no sense that women farmers receive only 5 per cent of agricultural extension services. Investing in rural women is a smart investment in a nation’s development.
The plight of the world’s rural women and girls mirrors that of women and girls throughout society — from the persistence of the glass ceiling to pervasive violence at home, at work and in conflict; from the prioritization of sons for education to the hundreds of thousands of women who die each year in the act of giving life for want of basic obstetric care. Even those countries with the best records still maintain disparity in what women and men are paid for the same work, and see continuing under-representation of women in political and business decision-making.
On this International Women’s Day, I urge Governments, civil society and the private sector to commit to gender equality and the empowerment of women — as a fundamental human right and a force for the benefit of all. The energy, talent and strength of women and girls represent humankind’s most valuable untapped natural resource.
- United Nations Regional Information Centre for
* * * * * * *
Next issue: 5 April 2012.
Good News Agency is published in English
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*In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project (2001-2010) presented to the UN General Assembly (http://decade-culture-of-peace.org/2010_civil_society_report.pdf), Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing a major role in the field of Information. In section A - International Organizations, the Report says:
"Participatory Communication and Free Flow of
Information and Knowledge has been advanced largely through use of the Internet
by civil society corresponding to para