- Isabella Lenarduzzi

No aid effectiveness without focusing first on gender equality

Firstly, I am delighted to announce that we had a great turn out for the debate that we organised together with AtSeven to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day – over 250 people attended with many more joining us to dance the night away.

Following on from Women’s Day… I have decided to dedicate this week’s newsletter to women everywhere… and what better way to do it than with a special focus on the impact of Women in development.

According to UNIFEM Executive Director Inés Alberdi back in 2008, over a billion women worldwide were trapped in poverty. She added that: “Where women can’t thrive, national development strategies and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals are in jeopardy. There can be no aid effectiveness without a focus on gender equality.”

Two years on and according to a recent report by the European Commission the sexual and reproductive health and rights are still neglected or denied in many countries and over 585,000 women die each year from causes related to pregnancy or child-birth; with over 90% of maternal deaths occurring in developing countries. Gender inequality and gender-based violence have been fuelling the epidemics of HIV/AIDS, which globally has become the leading cause of disease and death among women of reproductive age.

Gender equality and employment of Women in developing countries or those in crisis – man-made or natural – is not only fundamental for achieving overall economic growth and reducing poverty, it is a matter of basic survival…

How fitting that on the 8th March, International Women’s Day and the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration, the EU launched its EU Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development 2010-2015 thus further placing gender equality high on the political agenda.

We are privileged to be able to include two articles especially written for JUMP on this theme. DeMorgen Journalist Maarten Rabaey writes a first hand account of the courage of Haitian Women who were, and still are, working to rebuild their country in the aftermath of the one of the world’s worst earthquakes on record. Freelance journalist Okechukwu Romano Umelo looks at the huge contributions that African Women in Diaspora are making to help rebuild a continent in his article.

We’d be interested in hearing your thoughts, reflections or stories on this theme.