Millennium Development Goals and Women's Health
This note has been drawn from a conference on Women's Health and the Objectives of Millenium, done at Sciences Po Paris (FRANCE), by MM. Serge RABIER and Robert TOUBON from the Association "Equilibres et Populations".
On the eight Millennium Development Goals established by 179 States after the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994, four are directly meant to impact women.
- Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
- Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
- Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
- Goal 5: Improve maternal health
- Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
- Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
Women's Rights and Women's Health: "An ambitious but ambiguous agenda" (Serge RABIER)
Among the MDGs in the Convention ratified by around 180 States, four aimed to improve women's condition.
- Firstly, it shall be done by increasing girls' access to education and sexual education, which would lead to reduce hazardous sexual intercourses and improving girl's and women's control on their sexuality and maternity. (Goal 2)
- Then, by improving women's health, empowerment is possible in the public and private areas. (Goal 3)
- Then, family planning can reduce infantile mortality, mainly caused by mother's death. (Goal 4)
- Finally, it is asolutely needed to give women better access to health care, aiming to reduce women's and maternal mortality. (Goal 5)
During the Cairo Conference (1994), both visions of malthusianist demographics and women's rights movements converged (Serge Rabier). At the Fourth World Forum on Women in Beijing by 1995, a plan of action has been implemented by creating a new UN agency.
Three ambiguous remarks have to be made (Serge Rabier):
- Models for cooperation are criticized
The Western model of developmental aid has been criticized because it reinforced political elites in their rents. The Chinese model offers aid without political conditions but there is also a massive Chinese immigration and investments are concentrated on a few closed sectors. Furthermore trade remains inequal as it is in the Western model.
- New actors emerged, providing a new ranking
Emerging countries are now really diverse, from members of the G20 to the LDCs. Emerging countries developed a "pro-poors' growth", intending to reap the benefits from sectors with unqualified labour and offering a mass labour force. But investing in health care and education are now considered potential growth incentives and not only results of external economic growth.
- Need for a rethinking of developmental aid
Since developmental aid has always been linked with geopolitic issues during the Cold War, it seems that donators try now to tackle development issues.
Is women's health issue able to make a difference in this agenda ?
Women's healthcare will be one of the most important issues, since the fifth goal on maternal health is the least advanced, partly because developing countries did not increase their budgets for the Health Departments enough to comply with their own engagement in the African Union.
HIV is now infecting far more women than men.
A gender approach, as a "next step after feminism" (Robert Toubon), is needed to rethink developmental aid. Gender can become a new criteria.
Three new actors are emerging:
- Big charity foundations
Since States as France are providing financial aid bigger than the WHO, there is now big foundations as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with a budget far more important than what States give.
- World Funds
Through multilateralism, developmental aids from States are gathered.
- New financial mechanisms (UNITED)
Through taxes or private donations, it gives people more power against medicine producers' lobbies and help countries to purchase medicine.
" Don't you think companies can be involved in women's health at work, as it has been already developed ?" (see Peder Michael Pruzan-Jorgensen's intervention in Notes for session 4)