UN reports widening global inequality

A new UN report published Wednesday says an African woman is roughly 130 times more likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth complications than a woman in Europe or North America.

The U.N. population fund on Wednesday decried widening inequality in sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide.

UNFPA’s latest “State of World Population” report also estimates that nearly 800 maternal deaths occur daily, mainly in developing countries, with most preventable. And that nearly 500 maternal deaths per day occur in countries with humanitarian crises or conflicts.

“Sweeping global gains in sexual and reproductive health and rights over the last thirty years are marred by an ugly truth – millions of women and girls have not benefited because of who they are or where they were born,” the fund said in a statement.

UNFPA executive director Dr. Natalia Kanem said there has been “zero progress” in combating preventable maternal deaths.

“We have not adequately prioritized reaching those furthest behind,” she said, speaking on the barriers that women with disadvantaged conditions, such as migrant women, and gender diverse people face.

Improvements in health care access have mostly benefited wealthier women and members of ethnic groups with better access to care, the fund said.

She discussed the plight of indigenous women who in certain cases are six times more likely to die in childbirth due to lack of access to adequate and culturally-appropriate health care.

The fund called for new investment in sexual and reproductive health, as well as improvements in sexuality education, stopping gender-based violence.

Under the term of U.S. President Donald Trump, the United States halted funding for UNFPA largely over concerns about abortion — depriving the fund of tens of millions of dollars over four years.

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