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Statement on the Occasion of International Women's Day

Message of Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director, UNFPA

08 March 2008 - It is good to invest in women and girls, and it pays to do so. This year, on International Women’s Day, UNFPA reaffirms that investing in women and girls is one of the best investments governments can make.

Investing in women means investing in families, communities, and nations. When women have resources, they tend to spend them on education and health for their children, who then face better employment and life prospects. In every region, increased women’s participation and earnings result in reduced poverty and faster economic growth.

If we want to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, we need more investments in women and girls. Whether we are looking at it from a human rights, political or economic point of view, the conclusion is the same: It makes sense to invest in women. The returns are high for women themselves and for the world at large.

Many countries and communities are already taking the necessary steps. Political commitments have been taken to institute policies and allocate the necessary resources to achieve a world where women are healthy, safe and in control of their own lives.

But investments are still not being made to the extent they should be. In some areas, funds are declining despite rising needs. This is the case for maternal health and family planning. Improving women’s well-being cannot be accomplished without improving their health, particularly their reproductive health.

Today one woman dies every minute from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. More than 200 million women have an unmet need for family planning. More than 2 million people die of AIDS every year, and HIV continues to spread, threatening people’s lives and the development and stability of entire nations.

By guaranteeing universal access to reproductive health, we can reduce poverty, reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, and meet the need for family planning. And we can also reduce maternal, newborn and child deaths.

Today, we call on governments to increase investments in women and girls. We urge all partners to invest in national health systems, training for birth attendants and family planning.

We must remember that health is wealth. By investing in women’s reproductive health and well-being, we will stand a better chance of achieving the MDGs and making gender equality a reality.


 

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