Friday, August 24, 2012

34 Million Friends

Jane Roberts, cofounder 34 Million Friends of the United Nations Population  Fund Redlands, CA USA
On July 22, 2002, ten years ago, the George W. Bush administration  refused to release $34 million to the United Nations Population Fund. As an American citizen I was angry. I started asking 34 million Americans and others to contribute one dollar. This became known as 34 Million Friends,, and is still going ten years later.
In 2003, as a guest of UNFPA, I visited Senegal and Mali. (As a former teacher of French I speak the language quite well.)  I saw babies being born safely, I saw the closets and drawers filled with family planning supplies, I visited with women whose fistulas were being repaired, I visited schools where gender equality was taught. 
All countries, and maybe perhaps African countries in particular, should prioritize women's health, reproductive health and family planning in particular. As I understand it, infant mortality (the first month of life), has as its basic cause the ill health of the mother when giving birth. The baby is born prematurely and is anemic. The mother isn't healthy enough to nourish the baby through breast feeding. In my view, when the world takes care of women, women take care of the world. I have written two papers which you might enjoy. Women's Health Equals Global Health and What? You've Run out of the Pill
And at the 34 Million Friends site there is a plea for more family planning from UNFPA's executive director Dr. Babtunde Osotimehin and a very recent radio  interview I did with National Public Radio in Chicago concerning 34 Million Friends, the Family Planning Summit in London in July sponsored by the British Department for International Development and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and about population in general.
The world is in big trouble. Hillary Clinton has said: "Of particular concern to me is the plight of women and girls who comprise the majority of the world's unhealthy, unschooled, unfed, and unpaid." And Secretary General of the U.N. Ban Ki-moon has stated: "In women the world has the most significant but untapped potential for development and peace." 
Please join 34 Million Friends.  

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