It was meant to be a ground-breaking year for gender equality, but COVID-19 widened inequalities

By Neena Bhandari

Sydney, 24.07.2020 (IPS): Sixteen-year-old Suhana Khan had just completed her grade 10 exams in March, when India imposed a nationwide COVID-19 lockdown. Since then, she has been spending her mornings and evenings doing household chores, from cooking and cleaning to fetching drinking water from the tube well.

“I am really missing school. Nearly half the year has gone and we have no books and no teachers to teach. We don’t know if and when we will be able to resume our studies,” Khan, from Kesharpur village in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, told IPS. The disappointment is palpable in her voice. While teachers at the local government school are supposed to conduct online classes, most of the 350 households in the village have only one mobile phone with internet connectivity, which male members in the family take to work.

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India is main supplier of medical goods to UN

By Neena Bhandari

Sydney, 16.07.2020 (SciDev.Net): UN procurement of goods and services from developing countries, economies in transition and least developed countries reached an all-time high of $12.3 billion or 62 per cent of all supplies in 2019, says a newly released report.

Three developing countries — India (US$1.1 billion), Yemen (US$872 million) and United Arab Emirates (US$840.5 million) — were among the top five supplier countries, according to the report launched by the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) on 9 July.

UN procurement from suppliers in Asia rose by 15.3 per cent between 2016 and 2019. India was again the second largest supplier to UN organisations, while the US maintained the top spot (US$1.7 billion).

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Access to reproductive healthcare must to sustain development in Senegal

By Neena Bhandari

Sydney, 14.07.2020 (IPS): Pregnant with her second child, 30-year-old Ndiabou Niang was enduring pelvic pain, but couldn’t afford to access prenatal care in Diabe Salla, a village on the outskirts of the small town of Thilogne in north-east Senegal. Her husband was unemployed and her earnings of under CFAF 10,000 (17 USD) from selling seasonal fruits in the local market were insufficient to make ends meet.

Duing her last prenatal visit, she was prescribed some tests, an ultrasound and some medicines that would cost CFAF 39,000 (USD 67). But as the amount needed was astronomical for her meagre income, she silently suffered. Many pregnant rural women, living below poverty line, don’t follow through on the prescription and delay their prenatal visit till they are in their third trimester, which puts them at greater risk of pregnancy-related complications. Continue reading