TYO Recommends: Friday, May 11, 2012

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, TYO looks at pressing issues facing Mommies around the world in child marriage, domestic violence, mobile phone use, and the birth control debate, among others.

Mothers Moving Forward. Breaking news from the Chicago Tribune just in time for Mother’s Day—Afghanistan is no longer ranked as the world’s WORST PLACE to be a mother! The causes of this triumphant step forward for the country? According to Save the Children, better healthcare and more girls attending school. Today, the number of births attended by professionals rose 10% from 2003 to 2008 while girls in formal education has skyrocketed from zero to 2.5 million. Yet despite this good news, the struggle continues as 60% of children are affected by stunting and 275 children die every day because of malnutrition and illness.

Born to Wed? Wall Street Journal speaks with law professor Michele Goodwin on child MARRIAGE and the implications to human rights violations in India where the practice remains common despite legislation forbidding it. Though the legal age for women to marry in India is 18, “according to a major recent survey by the Ministry of Health… 43% of the married women in the age group of 20-24 had been child brides.” But girls are not alone! “Ms. Goodwin suggests that the pressure for early marriage from the groom’s side could come from mothers-in-law who want free domestic labor.” Boy or girl, if a child is still legally a child, does marriage count as human trafficking? And how much should courts be called upon to do something about it when the law simply isn’t enough?

Broadening the Debate. As debate over birth control rages in the U.S., Melinda Gates gives a Ted Talk on one of the most controversial issues  today. “We’re not talking about abortion. We’re not talking about population control. What I’m talking about is giving women the power to save their lives, save their children’s lives, and to give their families the best possible future.” Drawing on examples from around the developing and underdeveloped world, including contraception rates in Uttar Pradesh (one of the largest states in India which, if a country, would be the fifth largest in the world)at 29% and Nigeria (the most populous country in Africa) at 10%, Gates addresses the need for world governments to recognize the role of contraception and more importantly, a woman’s right to control her rate of reproduction, as vital issues affecting social change around the world.

[youtube 2BOTS9GAjc4 585]

Mother’s Day Every Day! It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, but the Huffington Post speaks up about the MOTHERS DAY EVERY DAY initiative launched by White Ribbon Alliance and CARE to raise awareness and call for greater U.S. leadership to save lives of mothers and babies globally. Mother and politician, Congresswoman Barbara Lee recalls her visit to Uganda to view the impact of anti-HIV/AIDS campaigns in the country. Among her discoveries: the fact that 70% of the world’s poor living on less than a dollar a day are women, and educating girls for five years could boost child survival by up to 40%! Inspired, she writes about how the experience “was a valuable reminder of the power of a mother.”

Suffering in Silence. UNRWA reports on the alarming rate of reported DOMESTIC VIOLENCE by women in the Gaza Strip. As many as 15% report physical abuse with an overwhelming 75% reporting psychological abuse; however statistics encompass only as many women who are willing to speak up, therefore unreported cases likely exceed these numbers. To counter numbers both reported and unreported, UNRWA has teamed up with the Women’s Affairs Centre (WAC) to continue a 2008 initiative aimed at spreading awareness, providing security, and empowering women endangered by domestic violence in Gaza.

Mobile Mommies. Perhaps phones aren’t all about the gift of gab? Well, a new study is defying challenging existing stereotypes by linking women’s cell phone use with better business practices in the developing world. The Council on Foreign Relations opens up about overcoming business barriers with value added MOBILE services with guest poster Henriette Kolb from the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. The study, which looked at women in Egypt, Nigeria, and Indonesia, concluded that: “In the exciting but fast-paced mobile industry, we must strategically focus resources on the realities that millions of women around the world encounter on a daily basis and work to develop practical solutions in order to maximize impact and positive change.”