Future of Poverty
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently released its annual Goalkeepers Report aimed at analyzing data relating to the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and insights on the future of poverty. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a nonprofit with the goals of fighting poverty, disease and inequalities around the world. Bill and Melinda Gates formed it in 1994. As philanthropists, they made it their Foundation’s mission to use their resources to fulfill the U.N.’s SDGs which also aligns with the work of their Foundation.

The SDGs

 The SDGs are 17 economic, social or environmental goals that the U.N. implemented to protect the planet, achieve prosperity and end poverty. The 2022 Goalkeepers Report is ambitious and complex, in that the expectations of enduring a pandemic and multiple wars were non-existent while setting the SDGs. However, the report stated that the magnitude of these events may have had ill effects on the data but a positive one on the actual reality of working towards those goals. The report also stated that there are two things no data point can prove: crisis and innovation.

Major Takeaways and Analyses from the 2022 Goalkeepers Report

Going back to the effects of the pandemic and conflicts such as the Ukraine-Russia war, it is not unusual for these events to negatively affect the data. The pandemic left 114 million people unemployed in 2020, meaning 114 million people lost stable livelihoods. Not only the pandemic left people without jobs, but it also caused severe disruptions in the supply chain due to border closures, a lack of workforce and financial instability. Panic buying and deficiency in stocks were major consequences of the inadequate supply chain, making goods less and less accessible.

Another disruption that hit the supply chain was the Russia-Ukraine War. Many African nations heavily depended on wheat imports from Ukraine. With the emergence of war stopping the shipments, the price of wheat-based products surged to the highest level its been in 40 years. Even though prices have relatively stabilized, the small shock showed how modern famine could present itself and how little the world is prepared for it.

After turbulent times for the world economy, Goalkeepers Report data shows promise not necessarily in the numbers themselves, but in the intangible potential for human ingenuity. Gates commented in the report that “No projection can ever account for the possibility of game-changing innovation” on the data projections on the SDGs for the next 10 years.

Financial Autonomy for Women

A significant step in reducing poverty is firstly making sure all people have access to money. Gender equality is essential in making sure both men and women have the same opportunities and means of accessing their money. Making financial platforms available and secure for women, especially in low-income countries, is necessary for achieving financial autonomy for both genders.

Data shows there has been an upwards trend in the last 5 years in the number of women owning a financial account and mobile money account. Mobile money account ownership of women in low-income countries increase from approximately 12% in 2017 to 24% in 2021. What this dataset indicates is more than the concrete number of women owning bank accounts, but the subject of women taking ownership of their livelihoods.

Tieing this to the initial message of the report, even though data is just data, the human aspect behind it is what makes the future more hopeful and brighter. Another take on the future of poverty from the report is the need for a replanning of the strategy behind food and humanitarian aid.

Strategy for Humanitarian Aid

Gates highlights that “The goal should not simply be giving more food aid. It should be to ensure no aid is needed in the first place.” Numbers on the report show the money spent on food aid keeps getting more and more every year, hitting a high of $57 billion in 2020. Whereas funding for agricultural research which will help developing countries create food security in the long run barely increase in the last 10 years, with only $9 billion in 2020. Comparing the money spent on a temporary solution such as food aid to agricultural research, numbers seem promising yet the truth behind it is that our strategy needs improving.

Taking into account the severe climate stress the agriculture industry will endure in Sub-Saharan Africa, “32 million more people in Africa are projected to be hungry in 2030” the report states. Solving world hunger is key to reducing poverty in the future, as more food on the market means cheaper and more accessible it is for the more disadvantaged. It is a very achievable challenge, as long as people change the strategy in their approach to food crises and look beyond the data.

As Gates states, “That challenge (solving food hunger) can’t be solved with donations. It requires innovation.” This is exactly what the Gatekeepers 2022 report suggests and promotes. A look beyond data and a vision larger than just numbers are what will define the future of poverty.

– Selin Oztuncman
Photo: Flickr

Health Care Poverty
Living in poverty is one of the primary obstacles to accessing health care. The financial relationship between income and proper health care is often linear: the more money an individual has, the better care they will receive. Poor health, however, is also a major cause of poverty. This is partly due to the costs of receiving care but also other costs such as transport, informal payments to providers and loss of income. Here are three books to read to learn more about the relationship between poverty and health care inequalities.

3 Books Explaining the Relationship Between Health Care and Poverty

  1. “The Moment of Lift” by Melinda Gates: In Melinda Gates’ book, “The Moment of Lift,” she emphasizes the key point that lifting a society is contingent on investing in women. Gates explores an array of topics from health care poverty to unpaid work and concludes that for a society to grow and flourish, women must also be empowered. From her experience abroad documenting and comparing the lives of women around the globe to her own experiences as a mother, Gates tackles heavy topics such as sexism, domestic violence and sexual assault. Gates writes, “It’s especially galling that some of the people who want to cut funding for contraception cite morality. In my view, there is no morality without empathy, and there is certainly no empathy in this policy. Morality is loving your neighbor as yourself, which comes from seeing your neighbor as yourself, which means trying to ease your neighbors’ burdens — not add to them.”
  2. “Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World” by Tracy Kidder: “Mountains Beyond Mountains” is a beautifully written biography about Dr. Paul Edward Farmer, a man set on dedicating his life to treating the world’s poorest people. Dr. Farmer, an empathetic, self-assured and brilliant doctor opens Kidder’s eyes to the world of health care poverty. The book tells tales of both immense triumphs, but also incredible losses. In exploring the effects of health care stigma, manipulation and inequality around the world Kidder exposes the harsh realities of the world. Dr. Farmer stresses the importance of doing everything possible for every patient, noting that the way some deem certain groups expendable is the source of many of the world’s problems. Kidder writes, “Some people said that medicine addresses only the symptoms of poverty.”
  3. “An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action for the Twenty-First Century” by James Orbinski: Written by the former president of Medicins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors without Borders, Dr. James Orbinski expands on the humanitarian efforts made in order to improve global health. The story follows Dr. Orbinski as he works in various disease outbreaks, conflict zones and extreme poverty to fight for universal health care. He travels to Afghanistan, Chechnya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Peru, Kosovo, Somalia, Sudan and Zaire, with the goal of impacting as many lives as possible. The book exposes the harsh realities of the developing world and is not for the light-hearted. Writing about his time in Somalia, Dr. Orbinski revealed the brutal nature of his travels by stating, “I couldn’t sleep that night. There were three doctors in the entire Baidoa region, and thousands of people still dying.”

These three books clearly indicate the correlation between poverty and limited access to health care. These books help highlight potential solutions for those living in poverty who need to access quality health care.

– Opal Vitharana
Photo: Flickr

Unbanked Population
In 2017, the World Bank  reported 1.7 billion “unbanked” adults, meaning these individuals did not have “an account at a financial institution or through a mobile money provider.” Although there remain unbanked individuals in developed countries, most of the unbanked population lives in developing countries. Furthermore, there is a strong link between lacking financial inclusion and living in poverty.

In 2020, the Inclusion Foundation discovered that in the United Kingdom, being unbanked leads to costs of up to £500 annually as these individuals “miss out on discounts reserved for those who pay bills by direct debit.” Additionally, the financial services that institutions offer, such as tools for saving, insurance and credit, are important instruments that help people rise out of poverty and advance financially.

5 Facts About the World’s Unbanked Population

  1. Women account for most of the unbanked. In 2017, about 980 million women did not have a bank account, making up “56% of all unbanked adults globally.” Even in countries with a small percentage of unbanked individuals, women account for most of the unbanked. For example, in Kenya, “where only about a fifth of adults are unbanked, about two-thirds of them are women.” In both India and China, females account for close to 60% of unbanked adults. According to a 2012 World Bank article, the gap grows larger among those in poverty, where women who make less than $2 a day are 28% less likely than men to have an account. Melinda Gates, the co-chair of the Gates Foundation, said that “Financial tools for savings, insurance, payments, and credit are a vital need for poor people, especially women, and can help families and whole communities lift themselves out of poverty.”
  2. China and India have the largest unbanked populations. About 225 million adults in China did not have a bank account in 2017 — the largest unbanked population in a single country. India came in second with 190 million, followed by Pakistan with 100 million and Indonesia with 95 million unbanked people. These four countries, along with Nigeria, Bangladesh and Mexico, accounted for close to 50% of the globe’s unbanked population in 2017.
  3. People remain unbanked for specific reasons. The 2017 Global Findex survey asked those without bank accounts why they choose not to open one. The most common reason provided, with about two-thirds of respondents citing this reason, was simply lack of money. Coming in second, 30% of unbanked adults said they did not need an account. About 26% stated that accounts are too expensive and 26% also stated an account is not necessary because a family member already has an account. Other reasons include distance, documentation requirements, distrust in the financial system and religious concerns.
  4. Providing banking services could lift people out of poverty. World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick said that “Providing financial services to the 2.5 billion people who are ‘unbanked’ could boost economic growth and opportunity for the world’s [impoverished].” He stated further that “harnessing the power of financial services can really help people to pay for schooling, save for a home or start a small business that can provide jobs for others.” In fact, research shows that “the more [impoverished] people are banking today, the more they are banking on their future[s].”
  5. Technology as a potential solution. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a nonprofit organization that fights poverty, disease and inequality around the world. One of the focuses of the Foundation is to reach unbanked populations with solutions to improve financial inclusion so that “people around the globe can build security and prosperity for themselves.” Its strategy is to promote the development of digital payment systems, which can allow for digital or mobile access to financial services without a bank account. This will also allow more women access to financial services, advancing gender equality. The Gates Foundation is currently supporting mobile money platforms in developing countries to increase financial inclusion for the unbanked. For example, in 2010, the Foundation granted $10 million to ShoreBank International to build a highly scalable electronic banking platform in Bangladesh to promote the financial inclusion of low-income people. In 2018, the Gates Foundation invested $3 million in Jordan’s Mobile Money for Resilience platform, which will economically empower refugees and impoverished people in the nation.

Looking Ahead

While for many, banking services seem readily accessible and almost a fact of life, for others, the inability to access such services stunts their growth opportunities. By increasing financial inclusion, institutions can help people help themselves.

– Rachael So
Photo: Unsplash

Financial inclusion can fight povertyRoughly 1.7 billion adults around the world are unbanked and most unbanked adults live in developing countries. Unbanked people have limited political, economic and social power and influence. For roughly half of the world’s unbanked who come from the most impoverished 40% of households in their economies, inaccessible financial services compound problems of poverty. Financial inclusion can fight poverty as it opens doors for people to improve their lives. The pace of technological advancement around the world is bringing universal access to financial services closer to fruition.

The Global Unbanked

Unbanked people are not connected to any type of financial institution. The most commonly cited reasons for being unbanked are not having enough money, account expenses, the distance of financial services and insufficient documentation. Nearly half of the unbanked population falls into just seven economies. The highest numbers of unbanked people are in China and India. It can be clearly noted that banking and poverty are closely related.

“Financial tools for savings, insurance, payments and credit are a vital need for poor people, especially women, and can help families and whole communities lift themselves out of poverty,” says Melinda Gates. Without a bank account, people cannot sufficiently save and the cash is not well protected. The digital economy also has the benefit of keeping a clear record of financial activities, which banks can use when underwriting loans. Loans are among the financial tools that are essential to financial growth and stability.

The Gender Gap

Women make up the majority of the unbanked population in most developing countries. Women may face deepened or additional gender-based barriers to account ownership, rooted in financial institutions, governments or society.

Financial institutions often lack products and policies that are gender-inclusive. For instance, women may find it difficult to obtain the identification or the assets needed to open and maintain an account, sometimes due to government-enforced barriers. Additionally, banking-related expenses are also a burden for women looking to enter the formal economy. Finally, the responsibility of unpaid household labor, along with barriers to education, keep many women from earning enough money to access financial services.

The Societal Roles of Women

Women may earn sufficient money but could be part of society that does not allow for them to connect to a financial institution.

For instance, the tradition of men being the head of household and in control of the finances leaves some women with little to no influence in matters of money. Approximately one in 10 women in developing countries are not involved in spending decisions involving their own earnings.

Women’s Empowerment for Poverty Reduction

Women must be part of financial inclusion efforts as they are integral to fighting poverty. Bill Gates explains that women are most likely to be behind the decisions that benefit the family. More women-led businesses and reduced inequalities are ways that an emphasis on financial inclusion for women can further a nation’s development.

Financial Inclusion Using Fintech

An emerging industry is making strides in financial inclusion. Financial technology (fintech) can be described as technological innovations in the processes and products of financial services. Fintech offers solutions to many of the problems at the root of financial exclusion. A fundamental problem is the lack of time or money to travel to distant financial institutions. Fintech has given users the convenience of accessing their accounts and financial services on a mobile device.

Fintech development has been gaining momentum since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Touchless transactions and banking reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 and have led many to embrace digital payment, in business and in personal practice. Fintech leaders are proving that underserved communities can be reached through financial technologies. Significantly, this helps foster financial stability for the formerly excluded.

Female-led fintech, Oraan, is working toward financial equality in Pakistan because women make up 48% of the population but only 6.3% of the formal economy. Oraan developed a platform that allows for digital savings groups. Savings groups can help empower women and ensure financial equity as they are well-established financial tools.

The Road to Universal Access

Because financial inclusion can fight poverty, digitized financial services are an effective way to improve access and inclusion. Online banking communities are empowering individuals and opening up opportunities for economic growth. By facilitating conversations about finances, informing underserved groups on the best financial practices and ensuring digital finance infrastructure is accessible, the world can make greater strides toward financial inclusion.

Payton Unger
Photo: Flickr

Activists Fighting World Poverty
Hunger is a prevalent issue that impacts children, families and individuals in countries across the globe. Despite the major scale of this issue, determined individuals can play major roles in providing food security to thousands. Sharing their ideas and resources on how to reduce hunger around the world, here are four activists fighting global poverty.

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani education activist. The Taliban shot her in the head in 2012 for publicly advocating an end to gender discrimination in education. Since then, she has become a U.N. Messenger of Peace, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and the co-founder of the Malala Fund. Oftentimes, those in poverty cannot receive quality education which also limits social mobility. The Malala Fund is addressing world poverty by providing education to millions of girls. This organization created the Education Champion Network, which helps provide education to girls in Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. The Malala Fund has partnered with Apple Inc. and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as individuals such as Angelina Jolie, to help support the 130 million girls being denied an education around the world.

Ernesto Sirolli

Ernesto Sirolli is a leading activist on economic development for those in poverty. Born in Italy, Sirolli worked for an Italian NGO in Zambia. This NGO taught Zambian communities how to grow Italian vegetables. There was resistance to the NGO’s efforts and, as a result, the organization paid wages to the Zambian communities working with them. Before the communities could harvest the vegetables, Sirolli witnessed a group of hippos rise out of the river and devour their new agriculture. Only then did he understand the true threat of local resistance.

From this experience, Sirolli discovered the issues that arise from what he calls “dead aid” from many Western countries. He questioned whether the more than $2 trillion from Western countries dedicated to developing communities was being used in a non-patronizing way. He noticed that NGOs rarely worked with local entrepreneurs on an individual level.

Sirolli developed a philosophy of economic aid for those in poverty in which the primary principle is respect. He created the Sirolli Institute International Enterprise Facilitation Inc., a network that gives local entrepreneurs an opportunity to develop their own ideas and benefit their own communities. Sirolli offers local people privacy, confidentiality, dedicated service and other essential components of entrepreneurship.

Louise Fresco

Louise Fresco is a Dutch researcher and activist who advocates for smart agriculture as the key to fighting world hunger. In 2000, she became the assistant-director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome and brought her ideas to an international scale. Fresco uses the evolution of bread as a metaphor to explain food’s role in the development of modern society.

Over time, bread has evolved from a staple to a cheap contributor to obesity. Additionally, Fresco discusses the large-scale production that has resulted in the mass destruction of landscapes. This negative association, combined with the negative environmental impacts of mass production, has created a counter-culture where people prefer to buy bread made from small-scale sellers. However, Fresco argues, buying from small-scale producers is a luxury solution for those who can afford it. People in poverty simply benefit from diverse, low-cost and safe bread.

Cheap bread symbolizes that food has become increasingly affordable. The human race currently has more available food than ever before, which allows people to focus on other activities. Humans have not had the luxury of ample food production until now when it has become so cheap compared to previous years. Fresco believes that to solve world hunger, countries must increase food production with subtle mechanization to avoid large-scale environmental destruction.

Melinda Gates

Along with her husband Bill, Melinda Gates is the co-founder of the world’s largest private charitable organization. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a $40 billion trust endowment that helps solve issues including global health, global development, global policy and global growth or opportunity.

Melinda Gates has used her position to focus on empowering women around the world. Specifically, Gates concentrates on family planning, maternal well-being and child health. She has spread awareness about “time poverty,” which is the idea that many women perform hours of unpaid work that can deprive them of their potential.

The Gates Foundation has donated to Mama Cash and Prospera, two prominent international women’s funds. Since 2012, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has put upwards of $560 million toward women’s health.

Each of these activists fighting world poverty is taking a different approach to eradicating global hunger. However, the culmination of these efforts is making a major impact around the world, one person at a time.

– Camryn Anthony
Photo: Pixabay

Inspirational Books with Advocate Authors
Book lovers or activists on the search for an inspirational read should find interest in this book list. From stories of equal access to education to serving the world’s poor, here is a list of five inspirational books with advocate authors.

5 Inspirational Books with Advocate Authors

  1. “I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban” by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb: Growing up in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai faced barriers as a woman. Malala loved school, but her life changed when the Taliban took over her town. It banned girls from attending school when she was 11 years old. After speaking out on behalf of girls’ right to an education, a masked gunman shot Malala while on her bus ride home from school. Miraculously, she survived and became an advocate for girls everywhere, sharing her story in her book “I am Malala.” She once said, “I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is the story of many girls.”
  2. “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela: Regarded as an international hero for his fight against racial oppression in South Africa, Mandela went on to tell his story in this inspirational autobiography. Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist and was also the leader of the African National Congress’ armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, before his presidency in South Africa from 1994-1999. Mandela received a conviction on charges of sabotage and other crimes as he led a movement against apartheid, serving 27 years in prison. Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his groundbreaking work that led to the beginning of the end to apartheid.
  3. “The Moment of Lift” by Melinda Gates: A New York Times instant best-seller, Melinda Gates’ “The Moment of Lift” tells the stories of the women she met during her years of humanitarian work and research around the world. Simultaneously, she also tells the story of her personal journey to achieving equality in her marriage to Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Gates makes this foundational claim in her evocative book: “When we lift up women, we lift up humanity.” President Barack Obama praised Gates’ first book for its power and importance: “In her book, Melinda tells the stories of the inspiring people she’s met through her work all over the world, digs into the data and powerfully illustrates issues that need our attention—from child marriage to gender inequity in the workplace.”
  4. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama: Michelle Obama, the first African American First Lady of the United States of America, tells her impressive story in this thought-provoking novel. From growing up on the south side of Chicago, balancing an executive position, motherhood and her time as First Lady, Obama demonstrates her dedication as an advocate for women and girls everywhere. In this number one U.S. bestselling memoir, Obama promotes inclusivity and displays important advancements toward healthy living for families everywhere, cementing her place in this list of inspirational books with advocate authors.
  5. “Mother Theresa: In My Own Words” by Mother Teresa: Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic nun who worked for over 40 years in India. She ministered for the sick and poor as she founded and expanded the Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa became a famed humanitarian and advocate for the poor by 1970. She received the Nobel Peace Prize for her inspirational and selfless work in Calcutta, India. A collection of quotes, stories and prayers, “Mother Teresa: In My Own Words” is a testament to the power of her words, not only for the poor but for everyone around the globe.
Poverty links inextricably to so many other issues that are plaguing the world today. Between equal access to education, food security and racial segregation, it is impossible to ignore the connection between all of these issues. These inspirational books with advocate authors serve as informative and motivational pieces of writing that remind everyone to be global citizens and actively fight for one another.

– Hannah White
Photo: Flickr

On February 13, Hillary Clinton, joined by Melinda Gates, spoke at New York University in a conversation called “Women and Girls Count.” The largely female audience received a special message from Clinton: “Develop skin as tough as rhinoceros hide.”

Clinton’s speech at NYU, moderated by her daughter Chelsea, was part of the joint venture of both the Clinton and the Gates Foundation called, “No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project.” The initiative’s goal is to both evaluate and spread awareness of the progress made by women and girls since the United Nations Fourth World Conference of Women that took place in Beijing.

The foundations have teamed up with technological leaders to gather data about the participation of women and girls worldwide. In a recent press release by the Clinton Foundation, the data will be released in a report in 2015.

In regard to the importance of having data, Clinton said, “If we don’t have data, we can’t tell you or ourselves what has been accomplished and what is left to do.” She went on to say, “We have to be able to prove the naysayers wrong.”

Both Clinton women and Gates took a number of questions on different topics. The topics included the recent decrease in women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), questions on women being in leadership positions, as well as the role that men can play in empowering women in the workplace.

Clinton and Gates strongly addressed how men can support women and how they can encourage younger women to become leaders. Clinton said, “I think the last three presidents have modeled with their daughters how male leaders can invest in their daughters, but I would like to see more leaders in countries where women are second class citizens or below to set a standard as well.”

Clinton made an interesting point in noting that she believes women and girls need to receive more encouragement than males of the same age. She offered her own insight in saying, “I have employed by this time a lot of very talented young men and young women and offering a promotion or expanded responsibilities almost always provokes a response something like, ‘I don’t know if I could do that’ or ‘Are you sure I could do that?’” Clinton went on to make a larger point in that young men very rarely make the same comments.

Gates named Warren Buffet, one of the Gates Foundation’s partners, as an example of a male leader who has been of great help to many women in developing their careers. Gates believes that it is important for more men to do the same.

Furthermore, Gates said in reference to the world’s future female leaders, “Be yourself. Don’t use the few stereotypes of ‘female leadership.’ Be yourself when you lead and have a base of support that will always support you.”

Clinton and Gates had a profound impact on the audience, who gave the women a standing ovation upon both their entry and exit. After the talk, #NoCeilings was trending on Twitter.

It will be interesting to see what impact the report will have when it is released in 2015 and if it will help to create a group of new female leaders.

– Julie Guacci

Sources: NYU Local, ABC News
Photo: Clinton Foundation

Twitter often has a reputation as being a stream of inconsequential fluff, with trending topics focusing on celebrity gossip or personal confessions. Yet, twitter can offer a continuous stream of valuable information on international affairs and development from the best in the world, summarized in less than 140 characters. The following are good sources for learning about the latest in international development issues.

Melinda Gates – @melindagates: Almost as famous as her husband, Melinda Gates acts as co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Her twitter account covers a range of issues, from tweeting live updates from her travels to posting bulletins about global health, to women’s rights and development news.

Nicholas Kristof – @NickKristof: A Pulitzer prize winning writer for the New York Times, Kristof is one of the most influential voices in international development. Known for his conscience and his tireless, hard-hitting journalism, Kristof’s tweets are a mix of links to his work, opportunities for getting involved, and opinions on current events.

Anne-Marie Slaughter – @SlaughterAm: Princeton Professor, director of Policy Planning, and formerly employed by the U.S. State Department, Anne-Marie Slaughter has impressive credentials. Her twitter feed is a slew of information on occurrences around the world, and not only the ones found in the headlines.

Susan Rice – @AmbassadorRice: U.S. Representative at the U.N. (though she finishes her post on Sunday June 30), Ambassador Rice’s twitter feed is a heartening look into all the work the U.S. does on behalf of oppressed groups around the world, and a reminder of all that is left to do.

Michael Clemens – @m_clem: One of the intellectual users of twitter, Clemens is a Harvard educated senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. He tweets links to in-depth discussions on development and economics.

Tom Murphy – @aviewfromthecave: A Boston based journalist and blogger, Tom Murphy was named one of Foreign Policy’s twitter accounts to follow, with good reason. Murphy has an amiable tone and feels like a friend referring you to worthwhile reading, if the reading is some of the industry’s best articles on aid and development (with the occasional mention of less heavy subjects, like Angry Birds).

– Farahnaz Mohammed

Source: Twitter, Foreign Policy
Photo: GOOD

Expanding Contraceptive Accessibility
Women Deliver, a global advocacy organization that speaks for improved health and wellbeing for girls and women around the world, held a conference in Malaysia earlier this month called “Women Deliver 2013″. One of the most exciting strategies discussed at the conference involved contraceptive accessibility for women in developing countries. In 2012, global leaders pledged more than $2.6 billion to provide women and girls in developing countries with “voluntary access to contraceptive services, information, and supplies by 2020.”

Speakers at Women Deliver 2013 noted the importance of providing this kind of healthcare for women that have no access to it. Melinda Gates stated, “Putting women at the center of development and delivering solutions that meet their needs will result in huge improvements in health, prosperity, and quality of life.” She added, “When women have access to contraceptives they’re healthier, their children are healthier, and their families thrive.”

Many people do not recognize the significance of this issue, yet an estimated 150 million women worldwide do not have contraceptive accessibility they desire. In developing countries, pregnancy can be very dangerous for women and lead to greater risks of death or injury of both the mother and her children in childbirth. In addition, women in developing countries face a greater risk of death after bearing too many children and often are not allowed the necessary time for healing in between pregnancies. By providing contraception to delay or prevent pregnancies, young women in developing countries can minimize the risks associated with childbirth, care for the other children they have, and even have new opportunities for education or supporting themselves through work.

Leaders from Senegal, Indonesia, and the Philippines, among others, have pledged to expand family planning programs and access. According to UNFPA (the United Nations Population Fund) Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, “These countries show that we can make an impact on women’s access to reproductive health if we rally the necessary political will and financial commitments.” He continues, “Expanding access to contraceptives is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to save lives and ensure the health and wellbeing of future generations.”

These strategies and investments could help to foster healthy populations, as well as allow women and girls to spend more time learning and becoming independent, instead of spending years of their lives raising and caring for their children.

– Sarah Rybak

Source: Ghana Business News
Photo: Facebook