Investing in women for our future

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Though half of the world’s population, women represent a staggering 70 percent of the world’s poor. These women face too many barriers to lift themselves and their families out of poverty, and I believe that we have the ability and responsibility to dismantle many of those barriers. One of the most important ways we can help is by investing in women’s health.


Last May, I introduced legislation to help end obstetric fistula, a debilitating condition often caused by prolonged, obstructed childbirth and overwhelmingly affecting women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa. By establishing a 10-year strategy to combat this preventable condition, The United States Leadership to Eradicate Obstetric Fistula Act of 2012 would have real results for women and their families.

Addressing the nutritional needs of women and children is another important investment that we must make. The global food crisis has a disproportionate impact on women and children in developing countries. As a member and former chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, I am working to promote and invest in anti-hunger and nutrition programs, including international food aid. Ensuring that women and their families have access to the nutritious food they need to grow up healthy and strong creates a positive ripple effect across society as a whole. We know, for example, that the right nutrition for mothers and young children could improve a country’s GDP by at least two percent.

Investments like these are crucial steps to improving the health of women globally and, in turn, allowing them to gain better access to the rights and opportunities they deserve. These investments represent the less than one percent of the federal budget that goes to international aid and show an incredible return as women are more able to be active participants in their society and contribute to increased global economic growth, which in the end is to our great benefit.

DeLauro is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and is ranking member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. This article originally appeared  on Issue 12 of Impact, the magazine of PSI