Female stars get together to fight poverty

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Washington, Apr 12 (UNI) Some of the biggest names in government, faith-based organisations, advocacy groups and Hollywood will ramp up a major drive tomorrow to support female anti-poverty push.

The high powered alliance, which has the backing of Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Queen Noor of Jordan and former US secretary Madeleine Albright would unveil new fundraising commitments of 1.481 billion dollars here.

The Women, Faith and Development Alliance (WFDA) said the funds raised so far would benefit around one billion poor women and girls around the world.

Women Thrive Worldwide which shapes US policy to help women around the world lift their families out of poverty, co-founded by Ritu Sharma Fox of Indian origin, whose family left behind generations of violence and poverty in Punjab, has also participated in the call.

Ms Sharma said WFDA is lobbying governments and international agencies to provide several billion more dollars to help impoverished women and girls around the world.

The financial commitments have been vetted and that program spending in Africa and the West Asia, as well as other locations, would be closely monitored.

''Women have enormous difficulties in situations of poverty and very often poverty plus conflict,'' Ireland's former president Mary Robinson said.

The campaign, supported by US first lady Laura Bush, Canadian former PM, Kim Campbell, and Hollywood actress Ashley Judd, would aim at changing the policies of governments and multilateral institutions to help eradicate female poverty.

The United Nations Population Fund is one of the biggest backers so far and has made a commitment of 500 million dollars over several years to address maternal mortality and stop violence against women.

Islamic Relief has pledged 43 million dollars to improve education, basic health care and water access for over one million women and girls.

Catholic Relief Services and World Vision have also signed up to the inter-faith grouping.

Activists from Dominica, India, Kenya, Uganda and Jamaica have also joined the growing campaign.

''Women and girls in poverty are not asking for new rhetoric or promises. They want action that will mean something in their daily lives and have a ripple effect with governments, multilateral institutions, and other organisations,'' the Ms Albright said.

The UN estimates that half a million women die every year due to preventable complications from pregnancy.

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