Check out Jodi Jacobson’s great article in RH Reality Check: The Millennium Development…Guys? It made me heartsick to read about an agency like the UN putting a bunch of males, particularly males holding the viewpoints that these guys do, in charge of groups responsible for advocating for maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, economic development, etc.
Consider also that virtually all of these issues remained invisible–or just plain unimportant–to the largely male power structures in every country for the past several decades, until the global women’s movement gained traction in their fight to put them on the global agenda.
Given these realities, it would seem that appointments to a recently convened United Nations High-level Advocacy Group focused on pushing for progress on the Millennium Development Goals would take pains to put high-level women in charge–at least in equal numbers to their male counterparts–of advocating for maternal health, child health, and HIV and AIDS, as well as those “other things” like economic development, in which women, as all the development literature has repeated ad nauseum for 40 years, are essential actors.
This is especially problematic because:
Men continue to control the agenda and to decide how much or how little money and attention will be paid to ending the epidemic of pregnancy- and sexually-transmitted infection-related deaths and illnesses that robs millions of women of their lives and health every year worldwide. Men continue to decide what priorities will be on the table when they do “pay attention” to these issues, and when they won’t, for reasons of their own political or financial agendas or their own ideological or political affiliations or all of the above, address honestly one of the leading and most preventable causes of pregnancy-related death and illness, that being unsafe abortion. Men continue to decide whether they will, for the sake of ideology cloaked as “common ground,” push for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that leave women disproportionately vulnerable to HIV and AIDS, leave the issue of safe abortion out of research and international documents, confront other issues like stoning as “adulterers” women who’ve been raped, or “accept” that ending the war in Afghanistan likely means leaving women to the “mercy” of the Taliban.
Personally, this paragraph was one of the most upsetting:
So why is it that Bob Geldof, the Irish singer and political advocate is being assigned to advocate for “all MDGs”–including those addressing maternal and child health and HIV and AIDS, when Michelle Bachelet, the former president of Chile who grappled directly with high rates of unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion in her own country, is assigned only to the MDG focused on gender equality and empowerment? (The MDG, by the way, which everyone agrees is the lowest priority in terms of funding and which also can’t be separated from the others.) Geldof and his colleague Bono–no matter how well-intentioned–both are associated with the ONE campaign, which, while it advocates for ending poverty in Africa, has also advocated for abstinence-only-until marriage programs in PEPFAR, to deny HIV-positive women access to family planning services, and against efforts to address safe abortion as an integral aspect of women’s health and rights.
I used to be a member of the ONE campaign. Ugh. I don’t know why, but I was unaware they supported abstinence-only or denied family planning services, including abortion. Moreover, I’m flabbergasted Bob Geldof, a known fathers rights proponent, is heading a maternal and child health group. Has the world gone mad? Here’s the comment I posted on Jodi’s article:
Bob Geldof is a Fathers Rights Advocate – Here he is on video:
Note how he blames fatherlessness (read: single moms) for raising criminals and causing other social ills. Gender & marital status have little to do with raising a criminal – poverty, racism, sexism, lack of resources, lack of role models in general, drug policies, lack of gun laws, etc. have to do with social ills and crime – not single women.
In regard to his stats & philosophies on family court, it should be noted that family court IS for couples with high conflict, most of them with domestic violence, child abuse, or child sexual abuse. Other couples (85-90%) create their own parenting plans – those that can’t – go to Family Court.
Research finds that when men SEEK (key word) custody, they actually have higher rates of success than women. Disturbingly, batterers often seek custody (to further their control) and GET IT.
Here’s an overview on Wikipedia on Fathers Rights Movement. Note that it has been extremely difficult to get an opposing view of the FR movement on Wikipedia, but currently I see some sentences have been inserted that reflect opposition – thankfully. Geldof is listed at the end as a notable supporter:
It should also be noted that some advocates refer to the FR gang as the Abusers Lobby. Many of their members have had prior conflict, charges of abuse, convictions, stalking charges, etc. Here’s a compilation of charges by researcher Michael Flood:
Geldof, like many other FR proponents, support traditional families – meaning they’d like to make it harder for women to get a divorce, they don’t like losing the respect of being a father/bread winner/family man, they’d like to have control over women and children, etc. — this is NOT the person who should be heading a committee for maternal and child health — this makes me sick to my stomach.
Count me as ONE LESS member of the ONE Campaign and one more of the disheartened women who has looked - but often fails to see - progress from the UN.