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In developing countries, breast cancer strikes women a decade earlier

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month ended in the U.S. last week, new information reminds us that focus shouldn't be delegated to just one nation, let alone to just one month. AP had a story yesterday not only on the rise of breast cancer in poverty-striken nations, but on how women are developing the disease at a much younger age than in the developed world. Additionally (and not surprisingly), diagnosis is often made late in the game:


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Somali Girl Raped and Stoned to Death

It doesn't get worse than this. Last week, 13-year old Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was stoned to death in Somalia by insurgents because she was raped. Reports indicate that was raped by three men while traveling by foot to visit her grandmother in conflict capital, Mogadishu. When she went to the authorities to report the crime, they accused her of adultery and sentenced her to death. Aisha was forced into a hole in a stadium of 1,000 onlookers as 50 men buried her up to the neck and cast stones at her until she died. When some of the people at the stadium tried to save her, militia opened fire on the crowd, killing a boy who was a bystander. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, issued a heated statement condemning the brutal killing, calling for the protection of children in Somalia. She said, "The incident highlights the extreme nature of violence against children and women in Somalia, which has been heightened by the increasing lawlessness." Coomaraswamy also raised concern of the increasing recruitment of children as soldiers, in which they are killed on a daily basis. But Aisha's death not only serves as a reminder of the brutality towards children in the midst of war, but a reminder of the brutality towards women. This girl was raped, and killed, because she was female.
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Who Answers to Women?

UNIFEM just released a publication that will be integral in holding governments and organizations accountable to their commitments in improving women's rights. It's sad to say that many have not held true to their promises. The key word here: accountability. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says:
"If any man asks why I support better accountability to women, here's my response: because a government that answers to women will answer to you, too."
UNIFEM largely blames the severe lack of improvement in gender quality within various nations on an "accountability crisis." Women should have the right to ask for explanations, to ask for information from decision makers - if they can't simply ask and be answered to, where can we even start implementing change? Read the whole report, title "Progress of the World's Women 2008/2009, Who Answers to Women? Gender and Accountability", which also includes a pretty awesome online interactive feature guiding you through the report.
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Gender Inequality Renders Aid Ineffective, says UNIFEM

Government and aid donor partners need to place more efforts on combating gender inequality if they want to win the war of global poverty, said the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the European Commission last Tuesday. UNIFEM Director, Ines Alberdi said:
"Over a billion women worldwide continue to be trapped in poverty...Where women can't thrive, national development strategies and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals [MDG] are in jeopardy. There can be no aid effectiveness without a focus on gender equality."
UNIFEM has implemented gender-responsive budgeting (with the help of the European Commission) which has supported in over 40 countries. This helps to ensure women's development needs are addressed when supplying aid resources. Check out more info on the The EC/UN Partnership on Gender Equality for Development and Peace program.