Seed System is a collaboration among diverse national and international organizations aiming to improve seed security in high stress and vulnerable areas across the world. Their new website seedsystem.org provides practical (‘how- to”) guidance and strategic thinking to help professionals design seed-related assistance. pro provides practical (‘how-to’) guidance and strategic thinking to help professionals design seed-related assistance.
Seed system website is dedicated to strengthening smallholder farmers’ seed systems. Seedsystem.org is for practitioners, researchers, managers, policy-makers and donors working in humanitarian relief and agricultural development. Seed system highlights the aim of the program is to foster productive, resilient, and market-oriented seed systems, even in times of emergency and chronic stress.
The site shares resources (tried-and-tested technical guidance!) and has three main aims:
to improve intervention practice;
to improve assessment;
to improve strategic thinking around seed system response and seed system development.
The assessment tools provide the basic tools and practical planning aids needed to assess seed security— that is, to conduct a Seed System Security Assessment (SSSA). The website allows practitioners and managers in the field to plan and implement an SSSA.
Seed system has resources downloadable resources available online in French and Portuguese.
The following are lists of areas and recommendations by UNCoLSC:(Adopted from Early Woman Every Child website)
Area 1. Improved markets:
Shaping global markets: By 2013, effective global mechanisms such as pooled procurement and aggregated demand are in place to increase the availability of quality, life-saving commodities at an optimal price and volume.
Shaping local delivery markets: By 2014, local health providers and private sector actors in all Every Woman Every Child countries are incentivized to increase production, distribution and appropriate promotion of the 13 commodities.
Innovative financing: By the end of 2013, innovative, results-based financing is in place to rapidly increase access to the 13 commodities by those most in need and foster innovations.
Quality strengthening: By 2015, at least three manufacturers per commodity are manufacturing and marketing quality-certified and affordable products.
Regulatory efficiency: By 2015, all Every Woman Every Child countries have standardized and streamlined their registration requirements and assessment processes for the 13 live-saving commodities with support from stringent regulatory authorities, the World Health Organization and regional collaboration.
Area 2. Improved national delivery:
Supply and awareness: By 2015, all Every Woman Every Child countries have improved the supply of life-saving commodities and build on information and communication technology (ICT) best practices for making these improvements.
Demand and utilization: By 2014, all Every Woman Every Child countries in conjunction with the private sector and civil society have developed plans to implement at scale appropriate interventions to increase demand for and utilization of health services and products, particularly among under-served populations.
Reaching women and children: By 2014, all Every Woman Every Child countries are addressing financial barriers to ensure the poorest members of society have access to the life-saving commodities.
Performance and accountability: By the end of 2013, all Every Woman Every Child countries have proven mechanisms such as checklists in place to ensure that health-care providers are knowledgeable about the latest national guidelines.
Area 3. Improved integration of private sector and consumer needs.
Product innovation: By 2014, research and development for improved life-saving commodities has been prioritized, funded and commenced.
Partnership for Maternal Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) Policy Brief
The Partnership for Maternal Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH), which The Hunger Project (THP) is part of, disclosed a policy brief on “Placing Healthy Women and Children at the Heart of the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Framework” on 31 March 2014. PMNCH through its Post 2015 Working Group is advocating for a Post 2015 framework that addresses women’s and children’s health issues and is rights-based, people-centered, equity focused, gender sensitive, participatory and adopts a cross-sectoral approach to health.
Specifically PMNCH calls for the Post 2015 Framework to:
Include a stand-alone health goal that maximizes health and well-being, specifying an end to preventable mortality and morbidity and fulfillment of sexual and reproductive health and rights; achieving this through universal health coverage, with targets that guide countries to leave no one behind
Focus on the most critical population groups for maximizing progress towards improving health and development outcomes, particularly newborns and adolescents
Integrate health-related targets into all relevant sectors such as nutrition, education, gender, and infrastructure such as water, sanitation and energy to address the underlying determinants of health
Include differentiated targets for countries based on their levels of development.
(Adopted from PMNCH)
For a related blog on Post 2015 agendas, search Post-2015 on our advocacy page.
About Partnership for Maternal Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH).
PMNCH joins the reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) communities into an alliance of more than 500 members, across seven constituencies: academic, research and teaching institutions; donors and foundations; health-care professionals; multilateral agencies; non-governmental organizations; partner countries; and the private sector (PMNCH, 2014).
World Health Day 2014: Combating vector-borne diseases
World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of World Heath Organization (WHO) in 1948. Each year a theme is selected that highlights a priority area of public health. The Day provides an opportunity for individuals in every community to get involved in activities that can lead to better health (WHO, 2014).
The theme/topic for 2014 anniversary is vector-borne diseases.
More than half of the world’s population is at risk of these diseases. Increased travel, trade and migration make even more people vulnerable.
Goal: better protection from vector-borne diseases
The campaign aims to raise awareness about the threat posed by vectors and vector-borne diseases and to stimulate families and communities to take action to protect themselves. A core element of the campaign will be to provide communities with information. As vector-borne diseases begin to spread beyond their traditional boundaries, action needs to be expanded beyond the countries where these diseases currently thrive.
More broadly, through the campaign, WHO member states are aiming for the following:
families living in areas where diseases are transmitted by vectors know how to protect themselves;
travelers know how to protect themselves from vectors and vector-borne diseases when travelling to countries where these pose a health threat;
in countries where vector-borne diseases are a public health problem, ministries of health put in place measures to improve the protection of their populations; and
in countries where vector-borne diseases are an emerging threat, health authorities work with environmental and relevant authorities locally and in neighboring countries to improve integrated surveillance of vectors and to take measures to prevent their proliferation.
CDC, 2014. Retrieved on 1 April 2014 from http://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/about.html.
Climate change threatens to put back the fight to eradicate hunger by decades (OXFAM)
The 38th Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) opened yesterday in Yokohama Japan. According to the IPCC news briefing, governments meet in Japan from 25 March 2014 until 30 March 2014 to discuss a major scientific report by IPCC. The Working Group II (WGII) contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability will be considered. The summary for policy makers released by IPCC outlines the scale of the threat climate change poses to people worldwide and suggests ways to help people cope. On 31 March 2014 IPCC will publish its Fifth Assessment Report (final) on Climate Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation.
To download and read IPCC’s Climate Change 2013 Report, click here.
A related analytic publication by Oxfam titled ‘Hot and hungry:how to stop climate change derailing the fight against hunger’ warns that climate change threatens to put back the fight to eradicate hunger by decades – and our global food system is woefully unprepared to cope with the challenge (Oxfam, 2014). The publication analyzes how well the world’s food system is prepared for the impacts of climate change and assess ten key factors/areas that influence a country’s ability to feed its people in a warming world.
The following are excerpts from ten key policy and practice areas – or gaps assessed by Oxfam to demonstrate the size of the global adaptation gap. To find out about the scoring process and detailed illustrations of the ten areas, click here.
1. Adaptation Finance
At the Copenhagen summit in 2009, world leaders promised to provide $100 bn per year by 2020 to help poor countries adapt to a changing climate and reduce their emissions (mitigation). They also committed to providing $30 bn of ‘Fast Start between 2010 and 2012, balanced between adaptation and mitigation. Fast Start Finance has not been balanced – adaptation initiatives have received no more than 20 percent of fund sat best. But even 50% would have been far too low to meet estimated needs calculated to be at least $100 bn per year for adaptation alone (Oxfam, 2014).
2. Social protection
While most industrialized countries ensure that the majority of their population is covered by some form of social protection, globally just 20 % of people have adequate social protection. In many poor countries,such as Zambia, Mali and Laos, coverage is less than 5 %. However, coverage is notably higher in poor countries that are bucking the trend of food insecurity and climate risk, for example in Malawi, Ghana and Vietnam, where coverage reaches 21%, 28% and 29% respectively (Oxfam, 2014).
3. Food Crisis aid
On average, over the past decade, 66% of the funds requested have been provided. However the cost of humanitarian aid is sharply increasing and the gap between the funds requested and those committed is steadily widening – the annual humanitarian funding shortfall has approximately trebled since 2001 (Oxfam, 2014).
4. Food stocks
The ratio of food stocks to food consumption has fallen to levels which are very low by historic standards – each year in the past decade the stock-to-use ratio has fallen below the long-term 25-year average, with lowest ratios coinciding with significant world food price spikes, as in 2007 – 8 (Oxfam, 2014).
Women make up 43% of the agricultural workforce in developing countries and play a vital role in food production and preparation around the globe. As a result, the impact of climate change on food is felt particularly sharply by women. Despite their immense contribution, women in developing countries are still deprived of land ownership and are shut out from receiving vital weather information that will impact their crops, livestock and their lives (Oxfam, 2014).
6. Public agricultural investment
Official Development Assistance to agriculture has been slashed during the last 30 years, falling from around 43 % in the late 1980s to around seven today. In 2003, African leaders committed to increase their spending on agriculture to 10% of their national budgets. A decade later, just four out of 20 countries included in this study are meeting that target (Oxfam, 2014).
7. Agricultural research gap
Global seed diversity has declined by 75 % in the last 100 years, depriving communities of native varieties that may be better suited to changing local weather patterns. The development of new and rediscovery of old seed varieties adapted to changing weather and growing conditions is therefore crucial.Yet public investment in agricultural R&D lags behind in the countries that need it most. For every $100 of agricultural output, developed countries spend $ 3.07 on public agricultural R&D, whereas developing countries spend just $0.55 on average. Countries that are bucking the food and climate trend, such as Malawi and Ghana, are investing more in agricultural research (Oxfam, 2014).
8. Crop irrigation gap
Over 80 percent of worldwide agriculture and 95 per cent of African agriculture is rain – fed, and at the mercy of changing rainfall patterns and intensity. In a warming world, where seasons are less predictable, access to responsible, sustainable irrigation is critical, especially in hot and dry regions. In many developing
countries, the irrigation that does exist is dedicated to big industrial farms at the expense of community water and small – scale irrigation. Women in sub-Saharan Africa collectively spend 40 billion hours every year collecting water (Oxfam, 2014).
9. Crop insurance gap
While 91% of farmers in the US have crop insurance, this compares with 50% in Australia, 15% in India, 10% in China and just 1% or less in Malawi and most low- income countries (Oxfam, 2014).
10. Weather Monitoring
Providing good weather data is an important way of helping farmers to cope with a changing climate. Yet the concentration of weather stations varies hugely around the world. Ironically, countries which are most vulnerable to climate change impacts on food, have the lowest concentration of weather stations( Oxfam, 2014).
Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
Olivier De Schutter, a United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, has recently presented a report to the UN Human Rights Council. The Rapporteur called for the world’s food system to be radically and democratically redesigned. (SRFOOD.ORG, 2014). In the final report, Olivier De Schutter presents his main conclusions and a summary of recommendations issued over the course of his mandate as Special Rapporteur (2008-2014).
According to the Special Rapporteur, “the right to food is the right of every individual, alone or in community with others, to have physical and economic access at all times to sufficient, adequate and culturally acceptable food that is produced and consumed sustainably, preserving access to food for future generations.1 Individuals can secure access to food (a) by earning incomes from employment or self-employment; (b) through social transfers; or (c) by producing their own food, for those who have access to land and other productive resources.”
To download and read the final report, click here.
To download and read the final report in Spanish, click here and for French, click here.
The following is a summary from the final Report on the right to food/ (Adopted from Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter).
The eradication of hunger and malnutrition is an achievable goal. Reaching it requires, however, that we move away from business as usual and improve coordination across sectors, across time and across levels of governance. Empowering communities at the local level, in order for them to identify the obstacles that they face and the solutions that suit them best, is a first step. This must be complemented by supportive policies at the national level that ensure the right sequencing between the various policy reforms that are needed, across all relevant sectors, including agriculture, rural development, health, education and social protection. In turn, local-level and national-level policies should benefit from an enabling international environment, in which policies that affect the ability of countries to guarantee the right to food – in the areas of trade, food aid, foreign debt alleviation and development cooperation – are realigned with the imperative of achieving food security and ensuring adequate nutrition. Understood as a requirement for democracy in the food systems, which would imply the possibility for communities to choose which food systems to depend on and how to reshape those systems, food sovereignty is a condition for the full realization of the right to food. But it is the paradox of an increasingly interdependent world that this requires deepening the cooperation between States.
The following are few excerpts from the key recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur in past thematic reports, from 2008 to 2013, to the Human Rights Council:
A. Ensuring access to resources
1. Access to land
In a context in which commercial pressures on land are increasing, it is crucial that States strengthen the protection of land users (A/65/281) and implement the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land and other Natural Resources. In particular, States should:
(a) Ensure security of tenure, by adopting anti-eviction laws and improving the regulatory framework concerning expropriation;
(b) Conduct decentralized mapping of various users’ land rights and strengthen customary systems of tenure;
(c) Adopt tenancy laws to protect tenants from eviction and from excessive levels of rent;
(d) Respect the rights of special groups, such as indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, herders and pastoralists, for whom the protection of commons is vital;
(e) Prioritize development models that do not lead to evictions, disruptive shifts in land rights and increased land concentration, and ensure that all land investment projects are consistent with relevant obligations under international human rights law (A/HRC/13/33/Add.2);
(f) Refrain from criminalizing the non-violent occupation of land by movements of landless people;
(g) Implement redistributive land reform where a high degree of land ownership concentration is combined with a significant level of rural poverty attributable to landlessness or to the cultivation of excessively small plots of land by smallholders, and supporting beneficiaries of land redistribution to ensure that they can make a productive use of their land; and
(h) Regulate land markets to prevent the impacts of speculation on land concentration and distress sales by indebted farmers.
Guaranteeing food security in the future requires that we support crop genetic diversity, including agro-biodiversity (A/64/170). This is particularly important for small-scale farmers in developing countries, who still overwhelmingly rely on seeds which they save from their own crops and which they donate, exchange or sell. In order to ensure that the A/HRC/25/57 22 development of the intellectual property rights regime and the implementation of seed policies at the national level are compatible with the right to food, States should:
(a) Make swift progress towards the implementation of farmers’ rights, as defined in article 9 of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture;
(b) Not allow patents on plants and establish research exemptions in legislation protecting plant breeders’ rights;
(c) Ensure that their seed regulations (seed certification schemes) do not lead to an exclusion of farmers’ varieties; and
(d) Support and scale up local seed exchange systems such as community seed banks and seed fairs, and community registers of peasant varieties. Donors and international institutions should assist States in implementing the above recommendations, and, in particular:
(a) Support efforts by developing countries to establish a sui generis regime for the protection of intellectual property rights which suits their development needs and is based on human rights;
(b) Fund breeding projects on a large diversity of crops, including orphan crops, as well as on varieties for complex agro-environments such as dry regions, and encourage participatory plant breeding;
(c) Channel an adequate proportion of funds towards research programmes and projects that aim at improving the whole agricultural system and not only the plant (agroforestry, better soil management techniques, composting, water management, good agronomic practices).
It is urgent that States move towards sustainable resource use while ensuring that the rights and livelihoods of small-scale fishers and coastal communities are respected and that the food security of all groups depending on fish is improved (A/67/268).
B. Supporting local food systems
1. Reinvestment in agriculture
Reinvestment in agriculture and rural development should effectively contribute to the realization of the right to food (A/HRC/12/31). In order to achieve this important goal, the international community should:
(a) Channel adequate support to sustainable farming approaches that benefit the most vulnerable groups and that are resilient to climate change;
(b) Prioritize the provision of public goods, such as storage facilities, extension services, means of communications, access to credit and insurance and agricultural research;
(c) In countries facing important levels of rural poverty and in the absence of employment opportunities in other sectors, establish and promote farming systems that are sufficiently labor-intensive to contribute to employment creation (A/HRC/13/33/Add.2); and
(d) Ensure that investment agreements contribute to reinforcing local livelihood options and to environmentally sustainable modes of agricultural production.
2. Agro-ecology: Moving towards sustainable modes of agricultural production is vital for future food security and an essential component of the right to food. Agro-ecology has enormous potential in that regard (A/HRC/13/33/Add.2).
3. Support small-holder farmers: The realization of the right to food for all will require proactively engaging in public policies aimed at expanding the choices of smallholders to sell their products at a decent price (A/HRC/13/33). To achieve this, States should:
(a) Strengthen local and national markets and support continued diversification of channels of trading and distribution;
(b) Support the establishment of farmers’ cooperatives and other producer organizations (A/66/262); A/HRC/25/57 24
(c) Establish or defend flexible and efficient producer marketing boards under government authority but with the strong participation of producers in their governance;
(d) Encourage preferential sourcing from small-scale farmers through fiscal incentives or by making access to public procurement schemes conditional on the bidders’ compliance with certain sourcing requirements.
4. Contract Farming: To ensure that contract farming and other business models support the right to food (A/66/262), Governments should ensure that regulatory oversight keeps pace with the level of the expansion and the complexity of business models.
5. Agricultural workers: To guarantee that those working on farms can be guaranteed a living wage, adequate health and safe conditions of employment (A/HRC/13/33)
C. Deploying national strategies
1. National Strategies: States should build national strategies for the realization of the right to adequate food, which should include mapping of the food- insecure, adoption of relevant legislation and policies with a right-to-food framework, establishment of mechanisms to ensure accountability, and the establishment of mechanisms and processes which ensure real participation of rights-holders, particularly the most vulnerable, in designing and monitoring such legislation and policies (A/68/268).
2. Human Rights Impact Assessments: To ensure consistency between domestic policies aimed at the full realization of the right to food and external policies in the areas of trade, investment, development and humanitarian aid, States should establish mechanisms that ensure that the right to food is fully taken into account in those policies. The Special Rapporteur has presented Guiding Principles on Human Rights Impact Assessments, based on a range of consultations with governmental and non-governmental actors, which provide guidance as to how to conduct such assessments, both ex-ante and ex-post (A/HRC/19/59/Add.5).
3. Women’s Rights:
In order to strengthen the protection of the right to food of women (A/HRC/22/50), States should:
(a) Remove all discriminatory provisions in the law, combat discrimination that has its source in social and cultural norms, and use temporary special measures to accelerate the achievement of gender equality;
(b) Recognize the need to accommodate the specific time and mobility constraints on women as a result of the existing gender roles, while at the same time redistributing the gender roles by a transformative approach to employment and social protection;
(c) Mainstream a concern for gender in all laws, policies and programs, where appropriate, by developing incentives that reward public administrations which make progress in setting and reaching targets in this regard;
(d) Adopt multi-sector and multi-year strategies that move towards full equality for women, under the supervision of an independent body to monitor progress, relying on gender-disaggregated data in all areas relating to the achievement of food security.
4. Social Protection:
The provision of social protection can substantially contribute to the realization of the right to food (A/68/268, A/HRC/12/31).
5. Nutrition: To reshape food systems for the promotion of sustainable diets and effectively combat the different faces of malnutrition (A/HRC/19/59), States should:
(a) Adopt statutory regulation on the marketing of food products, as the most effective way to reduce marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, sodium and sugar (HFSS foods) to children, and restrict marketing of these foods to other groups;
(b) Impose taxes on soft drinks (sodas), and on HFSS foods, in order to subsidize access to fruits and vegetables and educational campaigns on healthy diets;
(c) Adopt a plan for the complete replacement of trans-fatty acids with polyunsaturated fats;
(d) Review the existing systems of agricultural subsidies, in order to take into account the public health impacts of current allocations, and use public procurement schemes for school-feeding programmes and for other public institutions to support the provision of locally sourced, nutritious foods; and
(e) Transpose into domestic legislation the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and the WHO recommendations on the marketing of breast-milk substitutes and of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, and ensure their effective enforcement.
The private sector should:
(a) Comply fully with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, and comply with the WHO recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, even where local enforcement is weak or non-existent;
(b) Abstain from imposing nutrition-based interventions where local ecosystems and resources are able to support sustainable diets, and systematically ensure that such interventions prioritize local solutions;
(c) Shift away from the supply of HFSS foods and towards healthier foods and phase out the use of trans-fatty acids in food processing.
D. Shaping an enabling international
1. Food price volatility: The international community should find ways to better manage the risks associated with international trade and ensure that least-developed and net food-importing developing countries are better protected from the volatility of international market prices.
2. A new framework for trade and investment in agriculture
The realization of the right to food requires designing trade rules that support the transition toward more sustainable agricultural practices. The multilateral trade regime as well as regional and bilateral trade agreements must allow countries to develop and implement ambitious food security policies including public food reserves, temporary import restrictions, active marketing boards, and safety net insurance schemes, in support of the progressive realization of the right to food (A/HRC/10/5/Add.2).
3. Regulating agribusiness
States should take steps towards the establishment of a multilateral framework regulating the activities of commodity buyers, processors, and retailers in the global food supply chain, including the setting of standards by these actors and their buying policies (A/HRC/13/33). In particular, States should use competition law in order to combat excessive concentration in the agribusiness sector. This requires having in place competition regimes sensitive to excessive buyer power in the agri-food sector, and devising competition authorities with mechanisms that allow for affected suppliers to bring complaints without fear of reprisal by dominant buyers.
The international community should reach a consensus on agro-fuels, based not only on the need to avoid the negative impact of the development of agro-fuels on the international price of staple food commodities, but also on the need to ensure that the production of agro-fuels respects the full range of human rights and does not result in distorted development in producer countries. Public incentives for the production of crop-based bio-fuels must be reduced and eventually removed, while only those advanced bio-fuels that do not compete with food production for land or other resources should be incentivized.
5. Food aid and development cooperation:
International aid remains an important component of the right to food (A/HRC/10/5). Donor States should:
(a) Maintain and increase levels of aid calculated as Official Development Assistance as a percentage of GDP;
(b) Provide food aid on the basis of an objective assessment of the identified needs in developing countries;
(c) Fully respect the principle of ownership in their development cooperation policies by aligning these policies with national strategies for the realization of the right to food;
(d) Promote the right to food as a priority for development cooperation
To watch a related YouTube Video on Food Sovereignty Dialogue, click here.
To download and read the overview booklet, click here.
To watch the full report launching on YouTube, click here.
The release of report is pivotal as the process of defining the post-2015 agenda and the new sustainable development goals (SDGs) are underway. Among others, the report calls for the need to improve nutrition at a global level and advocates for inclusion of nutrition in policy dialogue and development programs to end hunger and under-nutrition by 2025. According to Fan, “divergent views on agriculture, food, and nutritional goals in the post-2015 framework show that despite good information for debate, we still far from consensus on final decision.” citing the lack of coherence on strategies and goals. Further more, on the path to ending hunger and undernutrition, we should also ensure environmental sustainability(IFPRI, 2013). The report suggests that the post-2015 agenda needs to be grounded in a multi-sectoral approach that (1) focuses on clear goals and targets, (2) uses comprehensive data and indicators that can be monitored and measured accurately, (3) supports partnerships among all stakeholders, and (4) promotes accountability (IFPRI, 2014).
The following are suggestion on approaches to accelerating the pace of hunger and undernutrition reduction:
– Country-led strategies and investments
– Evidence-based policies and policy experiments
– Knowledge sharing and transfers
– Data revolution, and
– Enhanced role of private sector
Attention was also given to agriculture which employs majority of the global poor and the role it plays to end hunger and under-nutrition over the next ten years leading to 2025. “Growth in agriculture sector is shown to reduce poverty three times faster than growth in any other sector-manufacturing, industry, or service.”(IFPRI, 2014). The report discusses how agricultural intensification and innovative farming to accelerate the end of hunger and under-nutrition by 2025. The report states that for agriculture to address under-nutrition and hunger, scaling-up agricultural production and increasing productivity should couple with production of vegetables, fruits and other nutritious food.
To download the full pdf version of the report, click here.
The following is 2013 Food Policy Timeline (source: IFPRI)
Source: @IFPRI 2013 GLOBAL FOOD POLICY REPORT
Gender Gap in Education Remains High in Low and Lower Middle Income Countries
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in partnership with United Nations Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI), has launched a gender summary report called Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report 2013/14 for this year’s International Women’s Day. According to the report, gender imbalance in global education has left over 100 million young women in low and lower middle income countries unable to read a single sentence (UNGEI, 2014). Following the adoption of The Dakar Framework for Action at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal in 2000, participants from around the world agreed to the achievement of education for all (EFA) goals and targets for every citizen and for every society. Almost 15 years after The Dakar Declaration and the launch of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), illiteracy especially among girls remain a big concern for lower and lower middle income countries. Despite the progresses towards achieving universal primary education and improving literacy, in 2011, only 60% of countries had achieved parity in primary education and only 38% of countries had achieved parity in secondary education.Girls living in the Arab States are at a greater disadvantage: the share of females in the out-of-school population is 60 %, compared with 57% in South and West Asia and 54 % in sub-Saharan Africa (UNGEI, 2014). The report stresses the need for supporting teachers, helping the most vulnerable girls (poor, minority and those in remote geographic areas) and improving the quality of education as we develop the post-2015 education goals. “Post-2015 education goals will only be achieved if they are accompanied by clear, measurable targets with indicators tracking disadvantaged to ensure that no one is left behind.” (EFA Global Report, 2013/14).
To download and read the EFA Global Report 2013/14, click here.
According to the report, among others girls education:
helps reduce poverty and boosts jobs
education offers poor women a route to a better life, increases women’s chances of participating in the labour force and closes wage gaps
improves health for women and their children
educated mothers ensure their children are well fed and vaccinated, educated women have have better understanding of diseases and have knowledge to treat and prevent diseases, and they are more likely to seek health services during and after pregnancy
promotes healthy societies
girls education helps avert child marriage and reduces the chance of early birth
Key Messages of EFA Goals ( Adopted from EFA Global Monitoring Report 2013/14):
There were 31 million girls out of school in 2011, of whom 55% are expected never to enrol.
Reflecting years of poor education quality and unmet learning needs, 493 million women are illiterate, accounting for almost two-thirds of the world’s 774 million illiterate adults.
Only 60% of countries had achieved parity in primary education in 2011; only 38% of countries had achieved parity in secondary education. Among low income countries, just 20% had achieved gender parity at the primary level, 10% at the lower secondary level and 8% at the upper secondary level.
By 2015, many countries will still not have reached gender parity. On current trends, it is projected that 70% of countries will have achieved parity in primary education, and 56% of countries will have achieved parity in lower secondary education.
On average, if recent trends continue, universal primary completion in sub-Saharan Africa will only be achieved in 2069 for all poorest boys and in 2086 for all poorest girls.
Over 100 million young women living in low and lower middle income countries are unable to read a single sentence.
If all women in sub-Saharan Africa completed primary education, the maternal mortality ratio would fall by 70%, from 500 to 150 deaths per 100,000 births.
If all girls had secondary education in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia, child marriage would fall by 64%, from almost 2.9 million to just over 1 million.
For an Arabic, French and Spanish press release on the report, click here.
Celebrating International Woman’s Day 8 March 2014
“Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth. Companies with more women leaders perform better. Peace agreements that include women are more durable. Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support. The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
It is a universal fact that women make nearly half of the world’s population (UNFPA, 2013), and their role in societal development and cohesion is indispensable. March 8 is designated as an International Women’s Day (IWD), and the celebration takes place around the world featuring meetings, rallies, conferences, forums and etc. Similarly, the United Nations (UN) will be celebrating the IWD every year and this year’s theme is “Equality for women is progress for all”. The theme emphasizes how gender equality, empowerment of women, women’s full enjoyment of human rights and the eradication of poverty are essential to economic and social development (UN, 2014).
The following is a quote from the Huffington Post on IWD and the importance inclusion (both men and women) to ensure equality:
“As a man, I affirm this: Feminism is not exclusively for women or exclusively about women. Feminism is the simple, radical notion that women and girls are human beings. That affirmation means that men are inherently involved in feminism and it means that men’s lives improve when we embrace the full equality of women.” (Gary Barker, Founder of Promundo)
The followings are links to celebrations and programs related to the 2014 International Women’s Day around the world:
Increasing homogeneity in global food supplies and the implications for food security (PNAS)
A study by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) shows that global diets have become more similar in composition over the last 50 years. According to the study, “the narrowing of diversity in crop species contributing to the world’s food supplies has been considered a potential threat to food security.” (Khoury et al, 2014). Important staple crops and cereals such as sorghum, millets, rye, cassava, sweet potato, and yam have lost their dietary contribution while oil crops like soybean, sunflower, and palm oil have increased in contribution to diet and production (Khoury et al, 2014).
The study notes that over the past 50 years, production of energy dense foods (i.e., animal products, plant oils, and sugars) increased around the world. The liberalization of international trade and globalization has helped accelerate the homogenization of global food supply (Khoury et al, 2014).
To download and read the study published by PNAS, click here.
The following is an an important excerpt from NBC News on homogenization of food variety produced and susceptibility to crop disease and natural calamities by Colin Khoury, one of the study authors:
“Examples like the Irish potato famine [and] the southern corn leaf blight in the ’70s in the United States,” he noted, “have shown that if you have one variety, pests will find it and make trouble.” (NBC NEWS, 2014).
To read more about the authors and the publication, click here.