The MONUSCO office in Kananga celebrated International Women's Day at their Friday night welfare event.
Many of the female employees and the women friends of the male employees of the UN attended. They were exceptionally dressed for the evening event.
One day or night does not change the situation for millions of women in developing countries. Earlier in the week, I went shopping for rehydration solution for a friend. It was difficult task. I encountered women at three little pharmacies who spoken only the local language and not French.
French is a school-acquired language versus their mother tongue. Educating women is so important.
Celebrate and commit to women equality.
”How do we treat a 60-year-old woman with a crooked back waiting for a dirty bowl of beans? Put the solution in her hands. Give her an inexpensive, durable cellphone that accepts voucher-like credits for her to buy the basics she's now given. Food, education, stove, health care, maybe child care and job training.”
The United Nations Development Programme's Africa Human Development Report 2012 released today said the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has the potential to become sub-Saharan Africa's breadbasket, yet it has the highest estimated prevalence of malnutrition in the world. Nearly 70 percent of the country's 68 million people are classified as under-nourished by the United Nation, and 38 percent of children have stunted growth due to malnutrition.
Despite good rainfall and rich agricultural potential, only two percent of the arable land and pasturelands in the DRC is under cultivation. The agriculture sector employs nearly 40 percent of the country's economically active population, but contributes only six percent to its gross domestic product and about two percent to exports.
Picture yourself in a room with 30 other women - knowing that one of you will die during pregnancy or childbirth. That's not a concept for a macabre TV show - unless it's reality TV.
A woman who conceives a child in sub-Saharan Africa is 45 times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth than a woman in developed countries. Over her lifetime, a woman in sub-Saharan Africa has a one in 31 chance of dying from pregnancy-related causes.
Those stark facts are a focus of a World Health Organization report released at the 126th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union that ended on Thursday in Kampala, Uganda.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) boasts sufficient arable land and water sources to produce food well beyond its own needs, yet it has the world’s highest rates of malnutrition.
- 69 percent: Prevalence of under-nutrition in the DRC; up from 26 percent in 1990-92. Under-nutrition includes being underweight for one’s age, too short for one’s age (stunted), dangerously thin (wasted) and deficient in vitamins and minerals (micronutrient malnutrition).
Congo! Mobile banking and microfinance is unheard of in Congo. It's an opportunity and a challenge.
Microfinance is key to our water projects in rural Congo. We have the advantage of every one else failures and successes.
Africa has traditionally led the way in mobile banking. Due to a largely dispersed population and a limited retail bank presence, the majority of the people are ‘unbanked’ (i.e. without a bank account). Research from Gallup (2010) shows that across the entire continent, only 19 per cent of individuals have bank accounts, with the number falling to as low as one per cent in countries such as Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo. As traditional banking remains out of reach for the majority, mobile phones are fast becoming the best way to extend financial services to the unbanked.
Malaria is endemic throughout Congo.
Last week, I was surprised to hear that my good friend had malaria. The conversation started and ended without a second thought or a concern.
Luckily he is an adult man. And he has the means to afford the required medicine. But if the same was a poor pregnant woman, we could have been preparing for a funeral now.
It is a familiar scene in a region still rated one of the poorest, and most dangerous, in the world.
But instead of the more familiar search for food, shelter or medicine, the women here -many displaced from their homes by years of conflict - are after nets: cheap, simple, insecticide-soaked, life-saving, mosquito bed nets.
"Malaria is the main killer here in Congo, especially for pregnant women and children," says Dr Vincker Lushombo, from Save the Children, watching as each woman's details are recorded, and a net handed over with brief instructions.
"But in one badly affected area here, we distributed 10,000 nets and saw malaria rates drop by over a third."
Amid rising measles and polio cases, tens of thousands of children are being targeted for immunization in health campaigns in affected regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).
At least 128,965 measles cases, with 1,573 deaths, have been recorded in the DRC in 2011, and 89 wild polio-virus type 1 cases had been reported up to 13 December, UNICEF said.
The current campaign against measles in Kinshasa is targeting at least 1.7 million children aged 6-59 months.
Diarrhoea is the biggest child killer in Africa and 88% of those deaths can be attributed to poor sanitation.
Barbara Frost of Water Aid says it is women and girls who are most affected.
"The crisis falls mainly on women and girls because it is them who carry the water and it is the women who look after children who are getting sick with diarrhoeal diseases, often through water infected with faecal material because of poor sanitation," she explains.
Carrying water and looking after sick children means women are unable to earn livelihoods and girls drop out of school when they reach puberty because of inadequate sanitation facilities at school.
Ms Frost emphasises how the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) are heavily dependent on each other to succeed.
"If children do not retain food because of diarrhoea their development is arrested," she says.
"Without proper sanitation you cannot achieve universal primary education, you cannot promote gender equality and empower women, you cannot reduce child mortality."
She is adamant that if health, education and sanitation are looked at as separate issues, people will not get out of poverty because they are so profoundly interlinked.