International Development Week!
Written by: Carly McAllister
This week is International Development Week (IDW), which runs in February each year. IDW is a time for Canadians to evaluate the role they play in building a better world and encourages everyone to get more involved. Each year, IDW has a different focus that relates to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – 17 objectives, 169 targets and over 230 indicators all aiming for a healthy world where no one is poor, hungry, or left behind. IDW’s theme this year is #GoForTheGoals, with a specific focus on gender equality, health and climate change.
Globally, gender inequality is a major cause of poverty – women earn 24% less than men, worldwide (1) while also doing up to 10 times as much unpaid work as men, like household work and childcare (2). Poverty makes things like healthcare and education harder to access, which in turn can have serious impacts on a person’s life.
When women and girls face gender inequality, it impacts their health. In 2019, 75% percent of new HIV infections among adolescents aged 10-19 years were among girls (3). That same year, about 1.3 million pregnant women globally were living with HIV – approximately 90% of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa (4). As well, maternal deaths are often higher in areas where women do not have access to skilled health personnel, whether because of poverty or other reasons. In Africa, there were 525 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births – 7 times higher than the SDG target of 70 by 2030 (5). Issues like this affect everyone, not just women and girls, as more maternal deaths mean fewer parents, partners, and friends.
Women and girls also bear the brunt of the impacts of climate change. If we do not act quickly to mitigate climate change, there will be higher temperatures and weather conditions that are more extreme and less predictable, which will negatively affect reliable access to clean water (6). Women in sub-Saharan Africa collectively spend about 40 billion hours a year collecting water (7). When women and girls have to travel long distances to find this necessity, it takes them away from education and economic opportunities. It can also be dangerous, as traveling through isolated areas leaves them at a higher risk of gender-based violence. Additionally, water is essential not only for human life, but also agricultural irrigation. In Sub-Saharan Africa, about 96% of all crops rely on rain, which means that this region is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change (8).
KIDS Initiative and our partners are actively working to help alleviate these issues. We are working with the Kieni Fighters HIV/AIDS to address the structural barriers that increase HIV/AIDS risks for women and girls. Although Kenya has made major strides in recent years to lower the numbers of new HIV infections, the country remains the fourth largest HIV epidemic in the world (9). With support from KIDS, the Kieni Fighters of HIV/AIDS Resource Centre will work to reduce the rate of HIV/AIDS infection and increase health-care access for individuals with HIV/AIDS in Kieni by targeting the underlying drivers of HIV risk and vulnerability for women and girls in Kenya.
KIDS Initiative has also worked with community members of the Lemolo IDP Camp to provide clean water in the form of the Lemolo IDP Camp Borehole Project, which was completed in 2020. Not only is the community able to use this water to drink, cook, and clean, but it will also be used as an irrigation source for their fields. The borehole provides them with a long-term, sustainable source of water for crops, which the community can use for food as well as a source of income to afford transportation to healthcare and education for their children.
With this year’s International Development Week focusing on gender equality, health, and climate change, the KIDS team is reflecting on how we can continue to work with communities to achieve the targets set by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. All of our projects, both past and present, would never become a reality without the support of our partners, donors, sponsors, and everyone else who helps us achieve a world where everyone lives more and suffers less.