Photo courtesy of the United Nations.
This blog was first published in The Huffington Post.
Th[e] empirical connection between social standing, economic status and health among women is arguably the most important yet elusive hurdle in the push to end poverty and disease. And like many development experts immersed in the reality of these issues, President Banda maintains that overcoming this challenge requires a trident, not a sword — a multi-pronged effort versus a unilateral solution. In her words, “We must take a holistic approach to improving women’s lives, one that accounts for all the social factors affecting women.'”
Evidence from a fellow East African country corroborates Malawi’s former leader’s counsel. Rwanda, one of the MDGs’ biggest success stories following its horrific genocide, has demonstrated the far-reaching impact of this holistic approach toward women’s health and rights. Since the declaration of the MDGs, it has implemented policies and programs that have grown its female representation in parliament to a world-leading 64 percent ; propelled it to #7 in the world in gender equality (trailing only the Nordic countries and Nicaragua); and achieved equal attendance among girls and boys in primary and secondary school. It’s no wonder that its maternal mortality ratio has plummeted by more than three-quarters since 1990, one of the most impressive advancements in the world.
Read the rest here.