What We're Reading: International Women's Day Celebrated Worldwide
March 11, 2011
A mother in Rwanda (Photo: EGPAF/Bill McCarthy)
Tuesday marked the historic 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day – and an important opportunity to highlight stories of women and children and the fight against HIV and AIDS.
While women have seen incredible gains in the past century – in science, business, government, and other fields – many challenges remain, and access to health care is one of the largest.
Far too many women around the world still don’t receive basic health services, including those for maternal and child health services, family planning, and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs.
To commemorate this important day, Ambassador Eric Goosby, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, posted a blog on AIDS.gov
to highlight one of our successes: programs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT).
Goosby outlined the milestones made in 2010 to reach HIV-positive pregnant women and their infants with lifesaving medical care and treatment, and to prevent the spread of the virus to a new generation.
A mother with her newborn in Malawi
(Photo: EGPAF/James Pursey)
According to Goosby, more than 8.4 million women were tested for HIV in 2010, and 114,000 children were born free of the virus, thanks to medicines that prevent transmission from mother to baby. That means giving 114,000 children a fresh start at life, without the preventable burden of living with HIV.
Former U.K. First Lady Sarah Brown, a global patron of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, wrote an article for Reuters
, calling on national governments to reduce maternal and child mortality, and highlighting the importance of training healthcare workers to deliver maternal and child health services.
Similarly, in The Guardian
, Brigid McConville, director of the White Ribbon Alliance
in the UK, outlined astonishing shortages of health care workers in Malawi
– especially among nurses and midwives providing medical care to pregnant women.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also published an op-ed in Bloomberg Business Week
, highlighting health and other issues affecting women in our global economy.
As Michelle Bachelet, head of the newly created agency UN Women, the first UN body dedicated solely to women’s issues, said recently in an interview with Foreign Policy
“I can imagine a world where women and girls have the same opportunities to develop their capacities, their talents, their merits, and their dreams…where women don't die when they give birth, where children don't die when they are born.”
The bottom line: We need to do better to reduce mortality and improve the health of women, girls, and children around the world.
The work of the Foundation to eliminate pediatric AIDS and protect mothers and babies from HIV is a vital step in making that happen.
Jen Pollakusky is a Senior Public Policy and Advocacy Officer for Africa, based in Washington, D.C.