Inequality Of Women Threatens Peace

By Jimmey C. Fahngon

“Unless inequality is urgently tackled and the poorest women empowered to make their own decisions about their lives, countries could face unrest and threats to peace and to their development goals,” the State of World Population 2017, published by the United Nations Population Fund has said.

The report which was released Tuesday said the costs of inequalities, including in sexual and reproductive health and rights, could extend to the entire global community’s goals.

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The report further indicated that failure to provide reproductive health services, including family planning, to the poorest women can weaken economies and sabotage progress towards the number one sustainable development goal, to eliminate poverty.

“Economic inequality reinforces and is reinforced by other inequalities, including those in women’s health, where only a privileged few are able to control their fertility, and, as a result, can develop skills, enter the paid labor force and gain economic power,” the report said.

The report quotes UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem as saying that “Inequality in countries today is not only about the haves and have nots; inequality is increasingly about the cans and cannots. Poor women who lack the means to make their own decisions about family size or who are in poor health because of inadequate reproductive health care dominate the ranks of the cannots.”

 The report pointed out that in most developing countries, the poorest women have the fewest options for family planning, the least access to antenatal care and are most likely to give birth without the assistance of a doctor or midwife.

It also said limited access to family planning translates into 89 million unintended pregnancies and 48 million abortions in developing countries annually, noting “this does not only harm women’s health, but also restricts their ability to join or stay in the paid labor force and move towards financial independence.”

 Continuing, the report said lack of access to related services, such as affordable child care, also stops women from seeking jobs outside the home.

“For women who are in the labor force, the absence of paid maternity leave and employers’ discrimination against those who become pregnant amount to a motherhood penalty, forcing many women to choose between a career and parenthood.

Countries that want to tackle economic inequality can start by tackling other inequalities, such as in reproductive health and rights, and tearing down social, institutional and other obstacles that prevent women from realizing their full potential,” Dr. Kanem is quoted in the report as saying.

The report recommends focusing on the furthest behind first, in line with the United Nations blueprint for achieving sustainable development and inclusive societies by 2030.

“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has envisaged a better future, one where we collectively tear down the barriers and correct disparities,” the report states, stressing, “reducing all inequalities needs to be the aim. Some of the most powerful contributions can come from realizing… women’s reproductive rights.”

In remarks, UNFPA-Liberia Representative Dr. Oluremi Sogunro said “our world is increasingly unequal. But this inequality is not only about money. It’s also about power, rights and opportunities. And it has many dimensions that feed on each other.”

He pointed out that one dimension of inequality that has received too little attention is in the enjoyment or denial of reproductive rights and the effects of that on humanity.


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