OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA-Women and Development: 70% of the poor worldwide are women

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Sydney (Agenzia Fides) - According to recent statistics, women account for 70% of the poor around the world. They are disadvantaged in many aspects and are subjected to the risk of poverty and hunger because of the systematic discrimination they suffer in almost all sectors: education, work, health care, monitoring of activities, participation in society. The state of poverty often subjects them to serious risk of violence, particularly in conflicts where very often they are the main victims. Caritas Australia has stressed the urgent need for change to protect this category, supporting the Millennium Development Goal 3, which recognizes that sustainable growth and development can be realized only when all the men, women, girls and boys, have full involvement in issues that affect their lives.
When women have the economic power, the entire community benefits. Studies show that women commit their money for household expenses that relate to health and well-being of all household members, for food, medicines and education. In addition, when the level of female education is higher, there is improved and better quality in terms of maternal and child health and also a higher infant survival rate. In some areas of the world women provide over 70% of agricultural work and produce more than 90% of the food. The World Bank has estimated that just in sub-Saharan Africa, food production could increase 20% simply by improving women's access to agricultural equipment, fertilizers and seed varieties.
Caritas Australia promotes the health and welfare of women, men, boys and girls through integrated programs in all the regions in which it is engaged. The organization works with both men and women to improve economic and social participation of women and girls in their communities. It is also committed to eradicating some of the deeper causes that generate poverty, such as violence and human rights abuses that marginalize women and girls and prevent their full participation in community life. In Laos, for example, where the female literacy rate is very low compared to men, as well as employment opportunities, families in which there is a female figure are considered particularly vulnerable to poverty and violence. Caritas Australia intervenes in the country by supporting the local partner and promoting employment opportunities for marginalized women, offering them the opportunity to send their children to school. Thanks to this program the vulnerability to violence and exploitation of many young people is greatly reduced.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where, unfortunately, violence against women is widespread, Caritas Australia works in partnership with the local Caritas, Caritas Goma, to provide health care and counseling to victims of rapes. In Samoa, through the project Women's Empowerment and Rehabilitation Caritas Goma supports women through training in local committees for the practice of sewing, handicrafts and other activities that allow them to earn an income. In this way, women enhance the health, nutrition and education of their family. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 09/06/2011)