In the Guardian last week, Sheila Rowbotham published an article entitled “Feminists fighting to change the world“. In it, she looks back at feminists from the late 19th Century until now, and talks about the challenges we still need to overcome in order to provide a fair world for all women.
This is important and relevant to RESULTS in a few different ways. First, the advances made by women over the years, in pushing for social change, are enormous. In addition to securing basic rights such as suffrage:
It is thanks to their efforts that we have birth control, abortion, centres for mothers and babies, health visitors, child benefit and the minimum wage. No small achievement.
RESULTS vision is a world free of poverty – a perhaps ridiculously ambitious goal given the scale of the problem. Yet the example set by these women is tremendous and shows us that we must persevere.
Second, this matters for RESULTS because poverty is female. The statistics are bought out year after year, and while they are slowly getting better there is no single “magic bullet” visible in the near future even though we do know some of what works. When the word “only” can be used when describing how maternal mortality has dropped from 500,000 women dying every year in childbirth to “only” 340,000 a year, we know something is very, very wrong.
2010 will be a landmark year for women and development with a special focus on maternal mortality looking likely to be on the agenda at the G8 in Canada in July, mainly because Millennium Development Goals 4 (Reduce Child Death Rates) and 5 (Improve the Health of Mothers) are both woefully off track. Also this year we have the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria – that is already doing such good work in helping women – asking for substantial replenishment funds in October.
RESULTS is keen to be able to contribute to this conversation, mobilise people to speak out with us, and help build the political will necessary to get the best outcomes possible for women.