The significant progress made by the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) can not be ignored or denied . It is a known fact that the Faith-based organizations have played an important role in the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals, including food and hunger programs, education, healthcare, housing, water and sanitation, and much more. We continue to do so particularly in areas where Government services are unavailable. Our collective experience urges that the globally agreed goals to fight poverty should continue beyond 2015 since 870 million people still grapple with the reality of hunger and poverty every day.
Large-scale social and economic transformation, partnerships and political will is required if we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. We recognize the significant progress made. However, existing commitments remain far from realized. We affirm that the promotion of gender equality from a human rights perspective and the contributions and empowerment of women and girls are fundamental, as enshrined in the Beijing Platform and international laws are necessary to meet the MDGs but also contribute and strengthen the post-2015 development agenda.
Women and poverty
It is increasingly recognized that poverty is still heavily concentrated in rural areas (75% of the world’s working poor live in rural areas) and that substantial progress towards achieving the Millennium Development goals as well as other international development goals depends heavily on improving agricultural and rural development. According to the International Labor Organization 60 % of the working poor are women. Working poverty shares many of the characteristics of extreme poverty.
The rural poor are predominantly smallholder farmers (particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa) or agricultural wage laborers (particularly in South Asia) .Rural women are the backbone of agriculture throughout much of the developing world. They produce half of the world’s food; in some developing countries women produce as much as 80 percent of the food but often do not get enough to eat! In this context the food security bill of India is commendable and to be replicated in countries facing similar situations.
Poverty and social evils
According to the World Bank, Millennium Development Goal one, of halving those in extreme poverty is achieved by 2010. But what they have not realized is that poverty is taking new shape like Human Trafficking and is at an increase. Studies shows that those who fall prey to Human Traffickers are those in extreme poverty, climate refugees and those leaving the country after conflict .Most of that include women and girls. Without addressing the root cause of poverty, its consequences like Human Trafficking, child marriage, prostitution and other social evils can not be prevented.
There is no check on the multinational companies especially the extractive industries who not only exploit the natural resources particularly in the global south beyond the planetary boundaries but also destroy the land and livelihood of indigenous communities pushing them in to extreme poverty.
Great advancements have been seen in the Millennium Development Goals on health issues, as health is related to more than five out of the eight Goals. Access to health services for women and girls’ remains vitally important. The faith community has provided a broad spectrum of health services including maternal and child health services which have contributed to the achievements in their respective Millennium Development Goals.
Lack of basic medical care and nutritional supplements, high rates of maternal and infant mortality, and the continued spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases mean that many women and girls serve as caregivers for their families and other members of the community without proper protection (especially with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other contagious diseases).
Women’s care giving work is not valued or paid. Increasing access to trained medical care would provide women caregivers the opportunity to contribute other skills to their communities or to be paid adequately for the skills they provide
According to the Education for All Monitoring Global Report, the financial crisis is driving millions into extreme poverty. “It could force governments to cut their spending on education and parents to pull their children out of school or simply not to send them. The report also finds that low-income countries provide poor quality education and caste system obstructs education in South Asia. The study also points out at India as an example of how caste systems obstruct education in South Asia.
“With the world’s largest illiterate population, India has been making progress,” the report said. Literacy rate in India in 2011 has increased by 8 per cent to 73 per cent in comparison to 64.8 per cent in 2001.
Gender disparities remain deeply engrained, with 28 nations across the developing world having nine or fewer girls in school for every 10 boys. On current trends, 56 million primary school age children will still be out of school in 2015.
Girls’ education is critically linked to self-determination, improved health, social and economic status as well as positive health outcomes for the mother and the child. Yet, girls still account for 55% of the out-of-school population. Education indeed is important for women’s empowerment.
Violence against Women and Girls
Up to one in three women worldwide will experience violence at some point in her life, which can lead to unwanted pregnancy and abortion, among other things. This is a challenge in the 21st centaury!
Maternal deaths and pregnancy-related conditions cannot be eliminated without the empowerment of women. Maternal mortality is the number one cause of death for adolescents 15–19 years old and in many countries, sexual and reproductive health services tend to focus exclusively on married women and ignore the needs of adolescents and unmarried women.
Empowerment of women, including ensuring access to health information and control of resources such as money, is important for achieving gender equality and health equity. However, the ratio of female-to-male earned income is well below parity in all countries for which data are available.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, noted that, it is still largely “cost-free” to rape a woman, child or man in conflict. “For the first time in history, we can reverse this reality. It will require leadership, political courage and a relentless determination to match the cold, calculating brutality of those who rape the innocent for military or political gain”.
In June 2013 the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2106 emphasizing a more consistent, rigorous investigation and prosecution of sexual violence crimes committed against women, particularly in war. The message was that rape and other forms of sexual violence in conflict will not be tolerated and impunity ended.
All governments should uphold what the UN Secretary -General said “There is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable. “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon .
Medical Mission Sisters Recommendations to the United Nations and Member States:
Implement Security Council resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, and 2106 preventing all forms of violence against Girls and women.
Eradicate the root causes of poverty to stop human trafficking, child marriage and other social evils
- Promote women’s empowerment through access to education and economic development.
- Promote women’s leadership including participation in all decision making bodies.
- Promote ways in which men can be engaged to promote gender equality and to contribute more to their own health and that of their families and communities;
- Provide gender-responsive policies and programmes
The progress of a country depends not only on Gross Domestic Products (GDP) but as Mahatma Gandhi said “You can judge a society by how they treat their women”. Participation and utilization of the full potential of women are essential not only for the achievements of Millennium Development Goals but also for the realization of Sustainable Development. A paradigm shift in culture and attitude is imperative which represents the world view founded in patriarchy, the main cause for violence against women. We need to work together to rebalance power relations for justice and human rights by a joined effort by the, government, civil society as well as religious groups.
Endorsing Organizations with Special ECOSOC status are the following:
- Congregation of our Lady of Mount Carmel
- Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
- Company of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul
- Dominican Leadership Conference
- Edmund Rice International
- Loretto Community (Rooster)
- Mary knoll Sisters of St.Dominic
- Partnership for Global Justice
- Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary
- Salesian Missions
- The Grail
- Temple of Understanding
- VIVAT International