Troubling news – as a good international citizen and friend to the Pacific what can and should New Zealand do to encourage the PNG government to address maternal deaths in childbirth and make good on their commitments to their citizens and their international human rights obligations?
Posted by Phil Twyford on September 21st, 2009 http://blog.labour.org.nz/index.php/2009/09/21/mccully-policy-does-little-for-women-dying-in-png/
Women in Papua New Guinea are dying in childbirth at 23 times the New Zealand rate. That is 1500 women dying preventable deaths every year, and 30% of them are teenagers.
It is one of the most shocking indicators of a country in crisis. The maternal death rate in PNG, one of our closest neighbours, is on a par with Afghanistan. And there is no sign of improvement.
PNG has its share of problems: poverty, HIV/AIDS epidemic, corruption, and appalling governance. It’s the last on that list that is the big driver. The failure of the state to provide basic health services to its citizens is what has caused the skyrocketing rates of women dying in childbirth.
PNG health workers at a parliamentary hearing today on maternal health in the Pacific testified the key factors behind the figures are the collapse of rural health services, and now a dire shortage of trained midwives. Continue reading
15 September 2009 –
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today spotlighted the “shocking” abuse, violence and discrimination suffered by women, in a call for action to empower the gender that make up over half the world’s population.In describing the diverse world population, “I would have to explain that fully half of those people face shocking abuses and discrimination,” Mr. Ban told the launch at United Nations Headquarters in New York of Half the Sky, a book depicting the violence and other abuses suffered by women worldwide and proposing action to combat the scourge.
“They are forced into slavery and prostitution,” said Mr. Ban at the launch, organized by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Only by standing up for fundamental rights everywhere can we expect to achieve lasting change
Women are denied the right to “speak their views, wear what they want, or pursue an education or a career,” said Mr. Ban, adding that they “are burned to death or scarred with acid with little or no punishment for the perpetrators.”
Mr. Ban noted that even with the technological advances in today’s modern world, women all too often die from easily preventable diseases as well as during childbirth. “The casualties dwarf those of most wars, [and] the costs are too high to put a figure on.”
The Secretary-General told how he was moved and angered when he met a girl in a hospital where he heard of how the 18 year-old was brutally raped at gunpoint by four soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Half the Sky, which was written by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and fellow Pulitzer Prize winner Sheryl WuDunn, details stories of sex trafficking and forced prostitution; honour killings and mass rape; and maternal mortality in the developing world, and proposes action to combat the scourge.
“Only by standing up for fundamental rights everywhere can we expect to achieve lasting change,” Mr. Ban said as he welcomed yesterday’s General Assembly decision to streamline all four UN women’s entities.
UN News Centre
Vietnam – Birth Trend May Fuel Sex Work, Trafficking – UN
09 Sep 2009
HANOI, Sept 9 (Reuters) – The ratio of boys born in Vietnam compared with girls has grown at an unusually rapid pace in recent years and could lead to a rise in sex work and trafficking, the United Nations said.
The sex ratio at birth was 112.1 male births per 100 female births in 2008, up from an estimated 106.2 in 2000, the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) said in a report.
With growth since 2006 of one percentage point per year, the ratio might cross the 115 mark within three years, it said.
By 2035, the surplus of adult men would be 10 percent or more of the female population if the sex ratio did not return to 105 male births per 100 females, it said.
“Scarcity of women would increase pressure for them to marry at a younger age, there may be a rising demand for sex work and the trafficking networks may also expand in response to this imbalance,” UNFPA said.
“Examples of gender-based violence and human trafficking have already been observed in Vietnam and point to some of the risks faced by vulnerable girls and women.”
A key factor behind the rise in the number of male births to female births is increasing access to sex-determination and sex-selection technology, “which has allowed couples to pursue their desire for one or more sons”, the UNFPA said.
Vietnam, which has had an agriculture-based economy for centuries, has a population of nearly 86 million with a strong preference for sons.
Amelia Gentleman, The Guardian, Friday 10 July 2009
Mothers earn around 22% less than their male colleagues. Photograph: Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Corbis
Women with children earn about 22% less than their male colleagues, according to a new report that explores the “devastating” impact of motherhood on earnings.
“Before becoming parents, men and women are equally likely to be employed, but childbirth marks the start of a great divide, which continues even after children have left home and does lasting damage to women’s careers,” the report finds.
Around 57% of mothers with children under five are in paid work, compared with 90% of men, according to the research published by the Fawcett Society. Partnered women without dependent children earn 9% less than men on average, but for mothers working full-time who have two children, the pay gap with men in the same situation is 21.6%.
“For each year she is absent from the workplace, a mother’s future wages will reduce by 5%,” says the study, entitled Not Having it All: How Motherhood Reduces Women’s Pay and Employment Prospects. Mothers are also much more likely than fathers to adjust their work to fit in with their children’s schedules. Continue reading