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G8/G20 Wrap-Up: Why We Can't Afford to Let Mothers Die

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We know that leaders around the world care about money, and they want their nations to be financially secure. Well, as the G8 and G20 Summits just confirmed, it’s time to look to the mothers of their nations to find that security.

Yesterday, the G20 Summit, a group of government leaders from 20 countries, followed up on the outcomes of the G8 meetings the day before. The G20 usually focuses on matters pertaining to the international financial system, while the G8 talks about broader development issues like solving global poverty. For the first time ever, the G20 agreed to set up a working group on international development issues, giving itself a formalized a role in helping poor countries.

This is amazing news. They’re basically saying to the G8 richest and most powerful countries, “Yeah, we care about helping people too.” And since poverty is a global problem, it makes sense that a broader global coalition of leaders should begin to tackle it.

So what does this mean for moms? Women and mothers all over the world have to endure serious hardships when it comes to poverty:

  • Out of the 550 million working poor in the world, an estimated 330 million, or 60 per cent, are women.
  • Two thirds of the world’s 799 million illiterate people are women.
  • Between 350,000 and 500,000 women die from complications due to pregnancy or childbirth every year.

These are heartbreaking stats, and they should be enough to force nations to take serious and swift action. But they’re not. For decades, countries have been allowing women to die in pregnancy and childbirth, and saying, “Hey, this is wrong!” hasn’t made a dent.

So today, we’re going to hit ‘em where it hurts. We’re going to mess with their money.

Pregnancy-related death of women and newborns costs the world at least $15 billion in lost productivity every year. Women:

  • Operate most small businesses and farms in developing countries.
  • Are the sole income earners for a 1/4 to a 1/3 of all households.
  • Carry 2/3 of all goods that are transported in Africa and produce 60-80% of all staple foods.
  • Feed Southeast Asia, providing 90% of the labor for rice cultivation.
  • Manage homes and care for children, unpaid work that equals about 1/3 of the world’s GNP.

Leaving Toronto and the G8/G20 meetings, I’m proud of the world leaders for finally realizing that they simply can’t afford to let mothers die anymore.

Learn more about the cost of maternal deaths here.

Photo: Lynsey Addario/Women Deliver


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