One World Action: More Women More Power

by Marie Birchall, One World Action

Did you know that 70 per cent of the world’s poorest people are women? And that despite doing more than two thirds of the world’s work, women only receive ten per cent of the world’s income and own less than one per cent of the world’s property? Here at One World Action, we believe that the majority of women lack one of the most important tools in transforming their own lives for the better– power.

The More Women More Power campaign has therefore been calling UK citizens to action. Like-minded individuals have been coming together to join our network of Women’s Rights Champions – headed by our President Glenys Kinnock – using their voices here to amplify the voices of the women around the world who are fighting to be heard.

Now, we are inviting one of these lucky campaigners to become the ultimate Women’s Rights Champion, joining us on a visit to Bangladesh to see this work on a fully funded trip at the end of the year.

We are looking to give one ordinary supporter the opportunity to visit some of the organisations we support in the city of Dhaka, to see first hand the work being done to secure women’s rights and to meet some of the inspirational women we work with. In return, we’ll be asking you to share your experiences with fellow campaigners back here in the UK.

Given the commitment of LCID members to justice and women’s rights, we’d welcome your involvement in our campaign and nominations to join us on our overseas visit in December.

Sign up today and nominate yourself to see women’s rights in action this December. Nominations close next Wednesday 29th September 

We’ll be voting for the Labour Party tomorrow and this is why

The 2010 election has been memorable for many reasons. Not least for the first leader debates and frantic campaigning in the most wide open election for years; but also for the criticisms that the policies of the three main parties are all too similar and that votes won’t result in change.

We at LCID disagree. There are vital differences between the party’s policies on international development, and they can mean real and lasting, and in some cases very damaging, change for the world’s poorest.

It’s our responsibility to share with you why we feel the Labour Party is best placed to lead the fight against global poverty as it has done over the last 13 years, and the threat we fear from a new government who will not champion the voices of those who need us most.

  1. Labour trebled development aid, and will increase it to 0.7% of GNI by 2013 – in line with the commitments made by all G8 countries in Gleneagles following the Make Poverty History campaign.
  2. Labour has shown the UK to be champion against poverty by creating the highly respected Department for International Development – widely seen in development circles as a world leader.
  3. We’ve shown international leadership in forging a commitment from G8 countries to increase aid by $50bn per year, and the cancelling of the debts of the world’s poorest countries.
  4. The Tories cut international aid in half last time they were in power, and attitudes have not changed: 96% of Conservative candidates seeking to become MPs at the next election want to see aid cut.
  5. The Labour government launched a Governance and Transparency Fund which provides resources to local civil society groups to improve governance and increase accountability in poor countries – for example, by helping citizens, media and parliaments hold governments to account – which results in sustainable change for communities and less reliance on aid.
  6. The UK increased expenditure on maternal health globally three-fold from £16.2 million in 2004-5 to £54 million in 2008-9 – making lasting change for women and their communities globally.
  7. Labour ensured the UK became the first country to ban ‘Third World Debt’ profiteering with the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) or Vultures Bill – legislation praised universally, and notably by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana.
  8. Labour has taken strategic approaches to development. For example, by being the first champion of the Sanitation and Water For All initiative – which will work to stop 4,000 children under the age of five dying every day from preventable water-borne diseases.
  9. LCID is highly concerned with the Conservative plan to introduce My Aid – an X Factor style competition where website visitors pick aid projects for DFID to fund. The shadow Secretary of State for Development Andrew Mitchell attempted to defend ‘My Aid’ by claiming it was “a tiny amount of the budget”. In fact, his green paper specifies that this fund would be £40m, almost as much as our entire annual aid to Zambia.
  10. These policies and efforts have seen direct results for the world’s poorest. They have
  • helped lift 3 million people out of poverty each year.
  • helped to get some 40 million more children into school.
  • ensured polio is on the verge of being eradicated and 3 million people are now able to access life-preserving drugs for HIV and AIDS.
  • improved water or sanitation services for over 1.5 million people.

We cannot jeopardise the sterling progress made on development over the last 13 years. And we will use our votes tomorrow, and ask you to think about doing the same, to support a government which has undertaken groundbreaking and heroic work to ensure a fairer global society for all.

Labour’s Manifesto on International Development

Extract from Labour’s manifesto

The global poverty emergency: our moral duty, our common interest

Labour’s international leadership on development has helped transform the lives of millions across the world. Yet too many people still live in extreme poverty, die from treatable diseases, or are denied the chance to go to school.

We will lead an international campaign to get the Millennium Development Goals back on track. We remain committed to spending 0.7 per cent of national income on aid from 2013, and we will enshrine this commitment in law early in the next Parliament. Our aid will target the poorest and most excluded – spent transparently and evaluated independently. We will fight corruption, investing more to track, freeze, and recover assets stolen from developing countries. Further action will be taken to strengthen developing countries’ tax systems, reduce tax evasion, improve reporting, and crack down on tax havens. To increase accountability, we will allocate at least five per cent of all funding developing country budgets for the purpose of strengthening the role of Parliaments and civil society.

Our leadership on debt cancellation has freed 28 countries from the shackles of debt. We will continue to drive this agenda, building on legislation to clampdown on vulture funds.

Access to health, education, food, water and sanitation are basic human rights. We will spend £8.5 billion over eight years to help more children go to school; maintain our pledge to spend £6 billion on health between 2008 and 2015 and £1 billion through the Global Fund to support the fight against HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria; fight for universal access to prevention, treatment and care for HIV/AIDS by 2010; and deliver at least 30 million additional anti-malarial bed-nets over the next three years.

We will provide £1 billion for water and sanitation by 2013, driving this issue up the international agenda, and over £1 billion on food security and agriculture. We will push for the establishment of a Global Council on Child Hunger. We will help save the lives of six million mothers and babies by 2015 and, because international focus on the needs of women and girls is vital, we will double core funding to the new UN Women’s agency. While the Tories would favour private schemes, we will work closely with NGOs and developing countries to eliminate user fees and promote healthcare and education free at the point of access. We will encourage other countries to ratify the ILO conventions on labour standards, as we have done.

Trade can lift millions out of poverty. We will work with the private sector, trade unions and co-operatives to promote sustainable development, quadruple our funding for fair and ethical trade, and press for a fair World Trade Organisation deal, with no enforced liberalisation for poor countries, and increased duty-free and quota-free access.

TUC marks International Women’s Day with celebratory dinner

The Trade Union Congress marked the 100th International Women’s Day with a celebration of women through music, poetry, comedy and speech.

Speakers included Frances O’Grady, Maria Eagle, Bonnie Greer and Hariyatu Bangura, an inspirational women’s leader for the Western Region of Sierra Leone Teacher’s Union.

The evening jumped between hip hop, soul, poetry, an ironing board keyboard and the charming comedy of Josie Long in a surprisingly fluid manner. Despite being a celebration it was clear the day was not simply about celebrating women’s progress but also a day to look at what still needs to be achieved in both the developed and developing world.

There seems to be a general consensus in the media and popular opinion that equality now exists and that the women’s movement is a thing of the past. Events like International Women’s Day draw attention to the fact that not only do women still have far to go but that even these basic rights many women take for granted do not extend to many parts of the world.

It is not a coincidence that one in three women across the world will be raped, sexually abused or suffer domestic violence in their lifetime nor is it a coincidence that there is still a 16% gender pay gap. Gender equality leaves much to be desired and whilst I was personally inspired and encouraged by the event at the TUC I was glad there was a serious tone to the evening and a sense that this was a movement that was only just getting going.

by Lucy Inmonger, LCID

The effect of HIV/AIDS on women in the developing world

Huge advancements have been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS since the 80s, but the fight is getting harder and numbers of people contracting HIV are growing. This International Women’s Day, it is worth pausing to contemplate the disproportionately devastating toll that this infection takes on women in the developing world.

We have all heard harrowing tales of infection being passed through rape in armed conflict, or from promiscuous partners in relationships that still value wives as personal chattels. These stories effect us deeply, but the effects on women in the developing world are often beyond our comprehension. HIV/AIDS does not just affect the person it infects: it cuts down people in their prime, it kills breadwinners and it makes full-time carers out of those who could otherwise work to earn money for food, clothing and schooling. In many cases, it can be a death sentence for a whole family. Children are orphaned and developing countries stagnate whilst their workforce dies.

Speaking for the Chief Executive of the National AIDS Trust, Deborah Jack said:

“Women are disproportionately affected by HIV globally, yet they still do not have a widely accepted prevention method they can initiate and control.  Whilst existing prevention strategies are essential, new tools such as microbicides or a vaccine, could offer women a powerful new way to protect themselves against HIV.”

That is why this Government, through DfID has committed itself to fighting the tide of HIV/AIDS. As one of the first Governments to fund research into microbicides and antiretroviral therapies, the UK’s track record is strong. Going forward, the Global AIDS Strategy commits the Government to a 50% increase in funding of vaccines and microbicides during the 2008-2013 period.

There is no question about continued support for the fight against HIV/AIDS by a Labour Government. More funding for prevention, more funding for microbicides and vaccines, ensuring treatment: these commitments are solid.

It is all too easy to focus on the medical effects of HIV/AIDS. Although these are devastating to individuals, the social effects on families, communities, even whole nations are greater still and especially hard on women.

By Tim Nicholls

Global Dinner Party for International Womens Day

Monday sees the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

To celebrate this, Sarah Brown’s White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood are encouraging people around the world to wear white and hold a dinner party in March for the 100th year of International Women’s Day on the 8th. Please get together with your friends, have some fun and join this global celebration of women and newborns saved and also to remember those lost.

“Together women around the world can really show governments and national leaders that we won’t be ignored and that all women in every country deserve access to basic healthcare. We can save so many lives by refusing to be ignored. Please Play Your Part to prevent the needless deaths of women and newborns in childbirth.”

– Naomi Campbell, White Ribbon Alliance Global Ambassador

WRA Members in over 140 countries will be holding marches, dinners and events in celebration of International Woman’s Day.

To find out more information and put on a dinner party yourself, please go to whiteribbonalliance.org