From the 63rd Annual United Nations Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organizations Conference in Melbourne
Having just returned from the DPI/NGO conference held for the first time ever in Melbourne, I would like to share some of the outcomes and opportunities from this meeting. Its focus was on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) considering aspects related to Advancing Global Health.
I was part of the Island Child Charitable Trust NZ delegation, not wearing my BPW hat, but it was really positive to be able to push forward some of the objectives of BPW.
It was great to catch up with our BPW delegate Faye Gardiner and the members from BPW International, and people such as Judith van Unen a Past President of BPW Australia also continuing the work under a different umbrella.
I would like to share with you some of the positive outcomes of the conference.
Firstly there was agreement on the significant statement from the 1650 NGO delegates attending, to be sent to the UN Governmental Conference focussing on MDGs to be held in New York later this month.
The workshops focused on human rights, prevention of violence, and poverty, provision of health services to third world countries, all working towards reaching the MDGs.
There are issues though that BPW and other NGOs need to be addressing. New Zealand has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, although the Select Committee has recommended that this should proceed, to be known as the Child and Family Protection Bill. This would enable New Zealand to meet its international obligations to protect children from economic and sexual exploitation. Apparently more than 130 countries have already done so and we need to be following this and asking questions about the delay.
I was proud to be able to share that the work that we did over many years to get the child sex tours legislation introduced to enable New Zealand to prosecute those who either take part or arrange child sex tours overseas. We have a ground breaking prosecution taking place at the moment. I noted too that while this law passed in New Zealand in 1995 this has only recently gone through in Australia.
One member of our delegation is a doctor working on a remote island in Vanuatu, the only doctor there after a four year gap, serving 38000 people. The hospital is in a desperate state and we were able to source donations of four wheelchairs, medical equipment, medical textbooks, birthing packs suitable for remote islands and more. All of these goods will be delivered free of charge to the island. Further more, training was offered for another of our delegation, an emergency nurse, and her doctor colleague to go to Bangladesh to receive resources to take back to many of the remote islands giving many more isolated people access to better health care.
Human rights, poverty, equal pay, and access to maternity care impact on the health of the community and the MDG outcomes. There is still much work to be done and BPW can make a difference.
Past President BPW NZ