Faiths called to account over women’s lot

Barney Zwartz; 2/11/09

Two-thirds of the world’s hungry, two-thirds of the world’s illiterate and two-thirds of the world’s poor are women, and this is no accident, an international summit in Melbourne will hear today. ”Someone somewhere has decided that women deserve less,” Sister Joan Chittister, chairwoman of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, will tell a summit on religion and development at Federation Square. ”If the faith communities brought their faith to bear on public policy we would change the world overnight, we would double the resources available, we would bring a new perspective.” Though not doubled, resources are growing. In a ”massively significant investment”, the summit will announce nearly $1 billion in funding for programs to improve gender equality and maternal health in the Asia-Pacific region, according to organiser Jane Sloane of the Melbourne-based International Women’s Development Agency.