Here is a question. Which politician said the following: “We’ve seen too that when women are empowered economically they are more likely to have a voice in the community and to be advocates for other women.” Or “Britain will be placing women at the heart of the whole of our agenda for international development”. Clare Short? No. Hillary Clinton? Nope. Harriet Harman? Wrong. It is former Army officer and International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell speaking yesterday to the think-tank Carnegie Endowment in Washington DC.
'When a jumbo jet crashes anywhere in the world it makes the headlines. If it were to crash week in week out in the same place there’s not a person alive who wouldn’t be talking about it. The international community would set up an enquiry and no money would be spared in making sure it never happened again. Yet, in Nigeria, the equivalent number of women die each and every week from pregnancy-related causes - and the world stands mute.'
Ought does not, of course, imply can. But there is increasing evidence to suggest that the deaths of 2.5 million children could be prevented each year through simple community-level interventions such as getting children and their mothers to sleep under bed nets, improving basic hygiene, making clean water and oral rehydration salts available, and ensuring pneumonia and malaria are treated promptly. These interventions will not make countries rich. Development aid cannot, at any rate, do that. But overseas aid should focus on practical and measurable areas like improving maternal health. The visit by the Prime Minster to DFID the other day suggests that he agrees with his Development Secretary’s approach.