Ignoring womens poverty imperils nations World Bank official tells UN meeting

Failure to pay attention to poverty among women carries a serious economic risk to society at large, an official from the World Bank told a key United Nations women’s rights committee today.Ignoring gender disparities came at a great cost to people’s well-being, to a country’s ability to grow and govern, to the effectiveness of development assistance and, ultimately, to poverty reduction, Cecilia Valdivieso, Sector Manager for Gender and Development, World Bank, told the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which began its annual session in New York on Monday.Offering a specific example, Ms. Valdivieso pointed out that women’s access to agricultural resources could increase productivity in sub-Saharan Africa by 20 per cent, while ensuring equal schooling for the region’s boys and girls could lower child mortality by 25 per cent. Also addressing the session today, Wariara Mbugua, Chief of the Gender Issues Branch of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), spoke out against a passive approach to economic growth, calling instead for special measures to help promote the advancement of women, such as providing them with access to credit and technology. She also stressed that efforts to eradicate poverty among women must be linked to their ability to access reproductive health services.For her part, Ndioro Ndiaye, Deputy Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), called attention to the plight of women in Afghanistan, where following more than two decades of conflict, a glimmer of hope had, at last, appeared. At the same time, she cautioned that in order to participate fully in the reconstruction of their country, Afghan women must first overcome the “numbness” of isolation and years of oppression.

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