The Washington Weekly – March 17, 2013

March 17, 2013

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The Hunger Project’s Executive VP, John Coonrod, is in Washington, DC to strengthen THP’s seat at the table of international development. Each week, John sends us insight into issues of health, policy, human rights and more by way of the Washington Weekly.

Action: Celebrate World Water Day – March 22!

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) are fundamental to human health, nutrition and food production. Many have pointed out that water scarcity is likely to be the central challenge of this century. This coming Friday is World Water Day – be sure to celebrate it. Here in DC, the WASH working group will conduct an advocacy day on Wednesday March 20.

CSW Agrees – Halt Violence Against Women! Bachelet Steps Down

Last year, following enormous push back from some reactionary regimes, the UN Commission on the Status of Women, for the first time, failed to produce a set of agreed conclusions. It was heading that way again this year, and THP co-signed a civil society letter to all country delegations holding their feet to the fire. By the end of Friday, however, conclusions were agreed to.

Michelle Bachelet, head of UN Women, in her press release said: “The Agreed Conclusions are a testimony to the commitment of Member States to do the right thing, to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls.”

The document highlights the importance of putting in place services for survivors of violence, including health, psychological support and counseling, and social support in the short and long term. It draws attention to the need for services to protect the right to sexual and reproductive health. Punishment of perpetrators is also highlighted as a critical measure to end impunity, as is the need to improve the evidence base and availability of data to inform an effective response.

As part of CSW this year, THP and Land O’Lakes International Development hosted a side event on the role of women in governance to halt gender-based violence. Rita Sarin was represented in a video message you can watch here.

At the conclusion of CSW, Michelle Bachelet announced her intention to step down as head of UN Women. In accepting her resignation, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated: “Michelle Bachelet was the right person in the right job at the right time. Her visionary leadership gave UN Women the dynamic start it needed. Her fearlessness in advocating for women’s rights raised the global profile of this key issue.”

UNDP says – South Rising!

UNDP has issued its 2013 Human Development Report.

“The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World” examines the profound shift in global dynamics driven by the fast-rising new powers of the developing world and its long-term implications for human development. The Report identifies more than 40 countries in the developing world that have done better than had been expected in human development terms in recent decades, with their progress accelerating markedly over the past ten years.

To underscore this theme, UNDP head Helen Clark launched the report last Friday in Mexico City, at an event attended by THP-Mexico’s Lorena Vazquez-Ordaz.

IFPRI says – Walk the Talk!

On Thursday I attended the launch of the 2012 Global Food Policy Report at IFPRI. In reviewing the past year, IFPRI head Sheggun Fan said it was a year of lots of talk about food policy. Now it’s time to walk the talk. He pointed out that countries continue to be hit by economic and environmental shocks; there is an urgent need to build the resilience of global and national food systems as well as of poor households and people.

FAO launches new food insecurity measurement

Last week, FAO announced a new Voices of the Hungry project that will annually survey people around the world, asking them 8 simple questions about their household food security. This is a real breakthrough, and will give far better data than the rather indirect methods currently in use.

New Evidence Supports our India Strategy

Our former Indian colleague Maalan emailed me this week with a link to the publication of a new study. Using survey data from Sangli district in Maharashtra, it finds that the availability of basic public services is significantly higher in female- headed panchayats compared to male-headed panchayats when the former have been in the job for three to three-and-a-half years.

Handy UN Fact Sheet: Rural Women and the MDGs

Last year’s CSW focused on rural women and – as a follow-up – the UN has issued a report underscoring that, in the quest for the MDGs, it is rural women who’ve been left behind. This report presents a wealth of evidence for our cause.

ACVFA says – Leverage NGOs To Build Local Capacity!

As reported here frequently, an ongoing priority has been to create a new relationship between USAID and international NGOs like The Hunger Project. That process reached another milestone this past week at a public meeting of ACVFA – USAID’s Advisory Council on Voluntary Foreign Assistance. The Council recommended strongly that, in its commitment to building local capacity, it should leverage the expertise and long-standing relationships of NGOs.

New videos On Our Local Democracy Site

During CSW, I had the chance to interview two wonderful spokespeople on the importance of participatory local democracy – Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, head of democratic governance at UNDP, and our own George Mathew who visited us in our home.

Coming Events

March 22: World Water Day

March 25-26: CAADP Partnership Platform, Addis

April 11 – THP/UNDEF Participatory Local Democracy Consultation in Rome

April 23/24 – THP/UNDEF Participatory Local Democracy Consultation in Cape Town

April 29-May 1 – InterAction Forum, Arlington, Virginia

May 20-28 – World Health Assembly, Geneva

May 28-30 – Women Deliver Conference, Kuala Lumpur – Joly to attend

June 8 – London Hunger Summit before the G8.

June 10-11 – Scaling-up Nutrition/1000 Day Summit in Washington

June 13-14 – Civil20, Business20, Youth20 Summits in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

June 27-28 – International Conference on Population and Development, Paris

September 5-6 – Leaders G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia

September 24-29 – Opening of the UN General Assembly

October 2 – Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday and the awarding of the Sarojini Naidu Prize.

October 5 – The Hunger Project Fall Event

October 11 – International Girl Child Day (which will subsume our National Girl Child Day.)

October 16 – World Food Day