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No gender equality means losing war on poverty

World must fulfil pledges on gender equality or else lose war on poverty – UN

Global efforts to "make poverty history" are bound to fail if world leaders do not act now to end gender discrimination, according to the latest annual report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

"Unless they live up to promises made to the world's women and young people, these leaders will not be able to meet poverty reduction goals agreed to at the 2000 Millennium Summit and reaffirmed at last month's World Summit in New York," UNFPA said ahead of next Wednesday's release of the report, The Promise of Equality: Gender Equity, Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals.

The study shows that investments in the education, reproductive health and economic opportunities of women and girls will have immediate, longer-term and intergenerational payoffs. It describes what these are and how they can be achieved.

Although the report reveals some successes, statistics show that 'promises' fall far short of reality. Worldwide, women and girls continue to suffer horrifying levels of violence, poverty and discrimination. Sixty per cent of those with HIV/AIDS are women, with the majority of new infections occurring in young women between the ages of 15 and 24.

UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid is to launch the report at a news conference in London on 12 October.

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