International Press Service News Agency
Nearly 15 years after a landmark international conference to advance the rights and freedoms of women, the picture in the Asia-Pacific region is mixed, says a leading women’s rights advocate and senior United Nations official.
Most disturbing for Heyzer is the region’s troubling record to slash the maternal mortality rates, the fifth goal in a set of eight development targets pledged by world leaders to be achieved by 2015. At a U.N. summit in 2000, the Millennium Development Goal for maternal mortality aimed to reduce by three-fourths the maternal mortality cases in 1990 by 2015.
Today, the Asia-Pacific region accounts for close to half of the nearly 500,000 maternal deaths recorded annually across the world.
“There is no reason why so many women have to die,” says Heyzer, who is also the former head of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) before her appointment two years ago to head ESCAP. “The figures are shocking, especially in a region where you have economic powerhouses. ”