Tuesday, May 29, 2007

State of World's Children 2007 ( UNICEF)

Here's an article on the "State of the World’s Children 2007" a report
published by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

This article was published in the Go Between (Newsletter)
This is the UN's Non-Governmental Liaison Service's (NGLS) flagship
newsletter that provides system-wide information on the activities of
the United Nations in development and human rights etc, on UN-NGO
cooperation, and on NGO activities on key issues on the UN agenda. It
is published six times each year and distributed in hard copy to some
6,000 NGOs and 1,000 members of the international community worldwide.

The actual report is available online:


State of the World’s Children 2007
Women and Children: The Double Dividend of Gender Equality

The State of the World’s Children 2007 examines the discrimination and
disempowerment women face throughout their lives—and outlines what must
be done to eliminate gender discrimination and empower women and girls.
It looks at the status of women today, discusses how gender equality
will move all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) forward, and
shows how investment in women’s rights will ultimately produce a double
dividend: advancing the rights of both women and children.

According to a report by the United Nations Children’s
Fund (UNICEF), eliminating gender discrimination and
empowering women will have a profound and positive
impact on the survival and wellbeing of children. The
State of the World’s Children 2007--Women and Children:
The Double Dividend of Gender Equality was issued on
UNICEF’s 60th anniversary.

Gender equality produces the “double dividend” of
benefiting both women and children and is pivotal to the
health and development of families, communities and
nations, the repor t finds. “Gender equality and the
wellbeing of children are inextricably linked,” said UNICEF
Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “When women are
empowered to lead full and productive lives, children and
families prosper.”

The report notes that eliminating gender discrimination
and empowering women will require enhancing women’s
influence in three distinct arenas: the household, the
workplace and the political sphere. A change for the
better in any one of these realms influences women’s
equality in the others and has a profound and positive
impact on children everywhere.

However, despite progress in women’s status in recent
decades, the lives of millions of girls and women are
overshadowed by discrimination, disempowerment and
poverty. Girls and women are disproportionately affected
by HIV/AIDS and women in most places earn less than
men for equal work. Millions of women throughout the
world are subject to physical and sexual violence, with
little recourse to justice. As a result of discrimination,
girls are less likely to attend school.

The report finds that women do not always have an equal
say in crucial household decisions, which can have
negative consequences for children. In only 10 of 30
developing countries surveyed did 50% or more of women
participate in all household decisions, including those
regarding major household spending, their own health
care or their visits to friends or relatives outside the

Women’s ability to control their own lives and make
decisions that affect their families is closely linked to
child nutrition, health and education, the report states. In
families where women are key decision makers, the
proportion of resources devoted to children is far greater
than those in which women have a less decisive role.
A study by the International Food Policy Research Institute
found that if men and women had equal influence in
decision making, the incidence of underweight children
under three years old in South Asia would fall by up to 13
percentage points, resulting in 13.4 million fewer
undernourished children in the region. In sub-Saharan
Africa, an additional 1.7 million children would be
adequately nourished.

The report notes that while there has been great progress
in recent decades in engaging women in the labour force,
there has been considerably less advance on improving
the conditions under which they work, recognizing their
unpaid work, eliminating discriminator y practices and
laws related to proper ty and inheritance rights, and
providing for support for childcare. The report suggests
that governments should undertake legislative, financial
and administrative measures to create a strong and
enabling environment for women’s entrepreneurship and
participation in the labour market. Social policies should
be promoted to tackle discrimination in the workplace and
to enable women and men to reconcile their work and
family responsibilities.

The report also suggests that increasing women’s
participation in politics is vital to promote gender equality,
empower women and fulfil children’s rights. The
remaining formal entry barriers must be dismantled, and
women encouraged and supported by political parties to
stand for office.

Gender initiatives also need the involvement and support
of men, especially male parliamentarians and political
leaders. Better data and research are required to fully
assess the impact of women legislators on policies
related to children.

The report is available online:
Contact: UNICEF, 3 UN Plaza, New York NY 10017, USA,
telephone +1-212/824 6648, fax +1-212/303 7992,
website (www.unicef.org).

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