UN report advocates closing gender gap, boosting reproductive health rights

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The UN said on Tuesday that vast inequalities was threatening economies, communities and nations, trapping people in a cycle of poverty and marginalisation.

The State of World Population 2017, noted that these inequalities were not simply a matter of wealth, but social, racial and political, and are all mutually reinforcing.

The new flagship report of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), outlined 10 actions countries could take on the path towards equality and boosting reproductive health.

The report said that around the world, gender amplifies these inequalities adding that too many women and girls do not have access to sexual and reproductive health care.

This means they are unable to receive family planning services or antenatal care, and may be forced to give birth in unsafe conditions, the report noted.

Pressed into motherhood early, or repeatedly, the report said girls and women are more prone to maternal injuries, disabilities or even death.

They are less able to finish their educations or enter the paid workforce, leaving their families poorer and their children with bleaker futures, it added.

The report also warned that these inequalities could undermine the global goals on ending poverty, eliminating preventable deaths and achieving sustainability.

The report outlines 10 actions that countries can take to create a more equal world, including meeting all commitments and obligations to human rights agreed in international treaties and conventions.

They are “tear down barriers that prevent young women from accessing sexual and reproductive health information and services and reach the poorest women with essential, life-saving antenatal and maternal health care”.

Others are; meeting “all unmet need for family planning, prioritising women in the poorest 40 per cent of households; and providing a universal social protection floor, offering basic income security and covering essential services, including maternity-related benefits and support”.

“Bolster services, such as childcare, to enable women to enter or remain in the paid labour force and adopt progressive policies aimed at accelerated income growth among the poorest 40 per cent, including through stepped-up human capital investments in girls and women”, are other actions.

The actions call for eliminating “obstacles to girls’ access to secondary and higher education, and to their enrolment in courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and accelerate the transition from informal jobs to formal, decent work – focusing first on sectors with large concentrations of poor, female workers – and unblock women’s access to credit and property ownership”.

“Working towards measuring all dimensions of inequality and how they influence each other, and strengthen links between data and public policy” are also outlined among actions countries could take on the path towards equality. (NAN)

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