PHILIPPINES: Global Support Urged For Momen's Emancipation
The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has called for a universal declaration of war on sexist policies that had kept millions of women in Asia, Africa, Latin America and even Europe the source of cheap labor, even as chattel, as the economic crisis threatens to impoverish 22 million women worldwide.
In its latest report, "Progress of the World's Women 2008/2009, Who Answers to Women? Gender and Accountability," UNIFEM stressed that the conditions of women in many countries would worsen as the financial meltdown deepens, with demand for durables hitting rock bottom and consumers worldwide hold on to their cash and spend only for basic needs.
The same report noted that women actually are in the majority in many countries dependent on agriculture, tending cattle and vegetable patches as men seek regular wages or are compelled to work overseas for higher pay.
Over 60 percent of all unpaid family workers globally are women even as they earn 17 percent lower than the wages paid to their male counterparts.
Worse, the UNIFEM report stressed, nearly a third of all women suffer sex-based violence in their lives, from female circumcision to unequal cultural practices that condemn them to little access to education or jobs and are consigned to domestic chores.
In its pitch for protection for women's reproductive rights, UNIFEM revealed that in some countries, 10 percent of women die from pregnancy-related causes in spite of the availability of cost-effective
measures to prevent maternal mortality.
For these women, little has changed since March 8 had been declared as the Universal Day of Women and females earned the right to vote and be voted upon.
Equality and empowerment of women are critical for attaining most of the other goals under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) like primary education, improving maternal health and other related cases and eradicating extreme poverty, according to UNIFEM.
Another UN agency predicted that the financial crisis would push 22 million women into destitution, further worsening the status of families that have long existed below the poverty threshold.
The UNIFEM report calls on governments and multilateral organizations to do a better job of answering to women. "For accountability mechanisms to work for women, they must be included in oversight processes, and advancing women's rights must be a key standard against which the performance of public officials is assessed and, if necessary, sanctioned," the report
"Progress of the World's Women 2008/2009 Report" provides an assessment of each of the MDGs from the perspective of women and focuses on five key areas where urgent action is required to strengthen accountability to women: politics and governance, access to public services, economic
opportunities, justice, and the distribution of international assistance for development and security.
In each of these areas the report details means of building state capacity -- or good governance -- from the women's rights perspective.
"Good governance needs women, and women need good governance," said Anne Marie Goetz, lead author of the report.
"Women have a different perspective on accountability because they often experience accountability failures differently from men. This report argues that good governance needs women's engagement -- just as gender equality requires states that are accountable and capable of delivering on promises of women's rights," she added.
With the present economic crisis, women's rights advocates warn that failure of the government and other institutions to come up with measures to protect them, women from developing countries, including the Philippines, will continue to lag behind in achieving the MDGs.
AUTHOR: Marvyn Benaning
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