One thing I found a bit odd about this whole MDG business is the constant linking between women as mothers and children. People keep bringing up the need to implement the MDGs “for the children”. Women are said to have power “because they take care of the children” (Charles Fisher’s words). Maternal health gets its own point in the MDGs. Now sure, there is quite a disproportionately high rate of women in distress from childbirth-related issues, but I’m also concerned that women are only being granted equality (another MDG) due to their ability to create life. What about child-free women? About women who can’t reproduce? About men who are the lead homemakers? Aren’t they to be considered too?
While we consider that question, the first person to speak is Jim Luce, President and Founder of…somewhere, the program didn’t actually say. He talks about how his mother inspired him to do animal rescue and help people. He went to an orphanage in Sulawesi and found the conditions absolutely appalling. (ah, I’ve worked out his organization. Orphans International! Fitting.) His speech is more about Orphans International than anything else, and I got a bit distracted so I didn’t pay much attention, ooops. He then passes it on to John Lee, the manager of their Sri Lanka project. The orphans aren’t treated very well; indeed, girls who reach the age of 16 and have not found a husband are kicked out onto the streets. Their orphanage is better maintained – it’s environmentally friendly, they’re taught tolerance (there’s a war happening), and everyone is shown patience and goodwill.
Next up is Donna Barry of Partners in Health, with an interestingly-titled presentation: “Simplicity: Not Always The Key To Saving Mothers & Their Children”. She shows us a whole set of statistics about neonatal and maternal health. There’s a major disparity between women in rural and urban areas – indeed, in America, there is a huge disparity between Caucasian and non-Caucasian women. The problem is that people have tried to make it simple – yet you can’t predict obsteric complications. What really helps? Socioeconomic development and access to highly qualified medical and surgical care. So that’s what Partners in Health does – set up clinics in developing countries to help with maternal health issues.
Now we have Robin, filling in for UNICEF’s Senior Adviser for Child Survivors. 42 countries (oddly enough all quite near the equator) have massive amounts of child death. A large chunk of that is neo-natal – death at birth. There has been considerable progress, though -with new technology, interventions, and successful implementation, success has been slow but steady. Some effective strategies have been clean water, cheap vaccines, and other interventions that are cheap and simple – however, the main issue has been to implement them WIDELY in places that need them more. It’s interesting that UNICEF is honest about not being able to have done their best work. They acknowledge that they can’t do it themselves, and that they need to set up partnerships to continue what they do.
Elaine points out that we hardly ever flinch when we hear that 9000+ children die every day…perhaps we need to think and act more deeply. Scott Sullivan, of The Corps of Communication, stands right up and tells us that we are full of greatness – but we have to act and inspire people NOW. Always stand up for what you believe in (maybe literally like he did). And that was it really – he kept it super brief! But it was effective and to the point, instead of rambly like many others were.
Culture Night tonight – I’m in my salwhar khameez, ready to rock out. See you tomorrow.
Filed under: UN Youth Assembly