To the tune of a missing $43 million for each of his seven years in office, President Bush has denied funding to UNFPA, the UN agency responsible for global family planning programs. At the launch of UNFPA’s annual State of the World report, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, a longtime advocate of international women’s health, told reporters that President-Elect Obama will restore UNFPA funding. "We are about to see major cultural change in Washington," Maloney said, "One big change is that UNFPA will be funded."
The Bush administration has insisted that the US cannot fund UNFPA because the agency supports coercive family planning practices in China. Multiple investigations have found no connection.
Add this to a repeal of the global gag rule to a list of actions Obama could take early in his administration that would will change the lives of women around the world.
to the advocacy group Americans for UNFPA, had the U.S. honored
its obligations to UNFPA, its contributions could have prevented 294,000
maternal deaths and would have allowed 82 million women to delay pregnancy.
UNFPA’s State of the World report focuses closely on the way in which inequalities between women and men worldwide impinge social and economic development. The report reminds us that women are particularly marginalized by drastic worldwide economic disparities:
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- Of the world’s one billion poorest people, three fifths are women and girls.
- Of the 960 million adults in the world who cannot read, two thirds are women.
- Seventy per cent of the 130 million children who are out of school are girls.
- Up to half of all adult women have experienced violence at the hands of their intimate partners.
Maloney pointed that Congress has signaled its support for UNFPA more than once. "Six times under Bush, the House of Representatives and the Senate
passed funding to continue the critical work of the UNFPA," Maloney said. "President Obama will have to do nothing but let the will of Congress go through." Indeed, in July, I reported that Congress allocated record funding levels to international family planning programs and to UNFPA in particular, with the House bill including a provision that would prevent future presidential administrations from blocking funds to UNFPA. Bush vetoed the bill.
The UNFPA report includes a series of excellent videos on women’s health and rights worldwide. Check out this introductory video: