Next week kicks off the annual UN General Assembly in New York, where they check in on their progress towards a 2030 agenda to promote peace and prosperity. For women’s rights observers, it’s worth a check-in: How are women doing worldwide?
A recent Guardian article reviews the achievements made in the last two decades: more girls in school, fewer women dying in childbirth and millions fewer childhood deaths, especially in Africa. More women are now involved in politics. Individual advancements for women are spotted across the globe.
Still, on most issues, change is stubborn—and next week’s UN Women agenda includes ending epidemic violence against women, women’s economic empowerment, equal pay and sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The UN has done a lot to integrate women’s empowerment into its many goals for poverty reduction, climate change, ending conflict and reducing inequality. Its a big player on the global stage, with between $6 to $10 billion spent annually trying to achieve its massive goals. But a fifth of UN funding comes from the U.S.—and the Trump administration says it intends to slash much of that, along with development aid at the State Department.
On Thursday, the medical journal LANCET was the latest voice predicting calamity if developmental aid is cut, including a sharp increase in HIV. These issues specifically impact women. We know more each year about how they will be impacted: Organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research have dedicated large amounts of funding towards gathering data on women’s progress, so we know where we are and where we’re lagging. They and others have helped us understand, for example, the vast issue of maternal mortality, and what approaches successfully reduce it. Most recently, the Gates Foundation collected data on contraception usage in Africa to figure out how to increase access to contraception to women who want to be able to control and space their pregnancies.
Keeping tabs on how women’s lives are changing is critical, and so is providing funding to address those lives. We’ll keep an eye on the UN General Assembly so we know what’s happening.
This Week in Women is part of a series produced in partnership between the Ms. Blog, the Fuller Project for International Reporting and PRI’s Across Women’s Lives. This column is also part of a newsletter by Across Women’s Lives at PRI’s The World. Sign up and receive it regularly here.