In the Category Of “They Must Be Kidding,” the United Nations Puts Stephen Harper in Charge of Accountability of Women’s Health

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is anti-choice, tried to eliminate family planning from Canada’s international funding for maternal health programs, and generally speaking has adopted global health policies that will further marginalize women and girls.

For some reason, the United Nations took this to mean he would be a great candidate to co-chair a high-level commission to hold countries accountable for spending $40 billion pledged in September to improve women’s health.

According to a statement released yesterday:

The United Nations is establishing a high-level commission charged with developing an accountability framework that will link resources committed to women’s and children’s health with the results they are intended to achieve. “Strengthening accountability is critical if we are to save the lives of more women and children,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “We must ensure that partners deliver on their promises but, in turn, it is crucial that they know whether investments are leading to sustainable progress.”

A Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health–itself lacking in several areas–was released and adopted by the UN in member countries attending the Millennium Development Summit in New York in September.  Countries “committed” (which is not to say they’ve actually written checks for) $40 billion in “a global effort to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015.”

The Strategy also called for the World Health Organization (WHO) “to establish a process to determine the most effective international institutional arrangements for global reporting, oversight and accountability for women’s and children’s health.”

The Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health will develop an accountability framework that will help countries monitor where resources go and how they are spent, and will provide the evidence needed to show which programmes are the most effective to save the lives of women and children.

The commission is charged with tracking results and resource flows at global and country levels; identifying a core set of indicators and measurement needs for women’s and children’s health; proposing steps to improve health information and registration of vital events — births and deaths — in low-income countries; and exploring opportunities for innovation in information technology to improve access to reliable information on resources and outcomes. Given that complications of unsafe abortion are a leading cause of maternal illness and death, these resources and technologies that might reasonably be expected to include, for example, increased access to both safe abortion technologies, emergency contraception, and post-abortion care, among other things.

Except, with Harper at the helm they most likely will not.

Harper is at best a questionable choice to be in charge of where resources should go and how they are spent.  His policies, which come right out of the playbook of the ultra right in the United States, were criticized by The Lancet earlier this year for the purposeful exclusion of abortion from the country’s international strategy to address maternal mortality and morbidity worldwide, and for hypocrisy, a la the U.S. global gag rule, of creating a different standard of health for poor women abroad than women in Canada enjoy.

Nonetheless, Harper will be co-chair of the commission with Jakaya Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania.  (Two men.  Imagine that!)  The Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Hamadoun I. Touré, and the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Chan, will act as vice chairs.

Putting the fox in charge of the hen house seems to me to turn the notion of “accountability” on its head.

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  • freetobe

    or are women and our rights going backwards all around the world?

    I thought we would have at least been able to qualify to take care of our own kind since many of the other sex seems to think we are invisible and expendable.

    I am wondering if the the girl babies in China were better off just being drowned at birth.

  • canbuhay

    Why do abortion advocates continue to impose their moral points of view on countries that have clearly rejected their western imperialism? Why don’t they respect the choice of democratic countries like Ireland, Poland and the Philippines to protect the rights of all their citizens, including preborn children?

    The only response I get from abortion advocates when I ask these questions is that lives are in danger and therefore we have to force people to accept pro-abortion laws and values. In other words, when lives are in danger, we should all be anti-choice.

    Gosh, where have we heard that before?

  • arekushieru

    By virtue of being ProChoice we CAN’T impose our moral views on other people.  By virtue of being ProLife you HAVE to impose your moral views on other  people.  Even fetuses.  Fetuses don’t CHOOSE to be born, either, or didn’t you know that?  Time to go back to basic biology, I guess.  

    If you’re ProLife in a ProChoice country, you AREn’t being forced to abort.  If you’re ProChoice in a ProLife country, you ARE being forced to continue a pregnancy.  Hmmm….

    Btw, Ireland, Poland and the Philippines ALL grant *fetuses* (NOT children) MORE rights than ANYone born.  Meaning they ‘protect’ them beyond ANY protection they give to those born.

    So, women dying are less important than fetuses dying?  Wow, thanks for proving the misogyny of your movement, ONCE MORE.

    Abtw, it’s NOT ProAbortion, if it was my mom wouldn’t have CHOSEN to have me AND my brother.  She did.  So, next time, you might answer yourself as to why ‘abortion advocates’ don’t answer your question with the following:  Because, if I can misrepresent the ACTual ProChoice position, they know that I can misrepresent what they say when they DO respond to the question; OBviously.

  • goatini

    Try “PAPAL imperialism”, you hypocritical activist proponents of gender-based discrimination and involuntary servitude.

    As for “where have we heard this before?”, I know I don’t need to educate you on this, as you are completely aware that you are lying. You know damn well that the Greater German Reich levied the death penalty against women who terminated their pregnancies.

    Actually, we reproductive freedom fighters should say, “where have we heard this before?”. Germany… Romania… any Catholic hospital… where women are less than human.

    If you aspire to live in a theocracy like Ireland, Poland, the Phillippines, or Saudi Arabia, for that matter, you’d better get your passport in order, as I will NOT allow you and your kind to turn America into a Papist/Dominionist theocratic hell on earth.

    So what is your position on post-born children in these nations being sexually abused by the clergy in the de facto shadow government?

  • crowepps

    Tanzania allows abortion only to save the life of the mother, after two doctors sign off the necessity for it.  The lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy/delivery is 1 in 24, a rate which is tightly linked to the illegality of abortion.  Jakaya Kikwete is no more appropriate to serve on this board than Harper.


  • arekushieru

    Uh, Bobolink, I, too, live in Canada.  I’ve lived in Alberta, all my life.  The most conservative region of Canada.  I can honestly say that their analysis of Stephen Harper’s politics is spot on, much moreso than yours. 

    Several bills have been tabled by the Harper government, before they Prorogued parliament, concerning abortion.  One particular one that comes to mind is the bill that would make the death of a pregnant woman double murder.  

    The other thing that comes to mind is international aid for maternal health care where Harper promised that a discussion of abortion wouldn’t be on the table, and he reneged on that promise by saying that there would be no international dollars to fund abortion in foreign countries.

    So, simply knowing a gay person means someone can’t be a bigot?  THAT’S why there were no racists back in the time when they lynched people who were black, because they all ‘knew’ someone who was black…?

    So, next time you want to get on your high horse about someone outside being ignorant of the policies inside Canada, maybe you better make sure that no one else is Canadian on this board who might make you eat your words.  Believe me, I’m not the only other Canadian on this board, either.

    Besides, the individuals on this board are the exception to that rule you seem to be judging everyone else by.  The one that says that the US population, in general, is ignorant of all policies other than their own.  By virtue of their very positions on feminism and health care, one would have thought that you would have guessed that. 

  • arekushieru

    Or the fact that Jewish women were sent to the gas chambers if they DIDn’t terminate their pregnancies.  Either way, a VERY anti-choice position, no?