Peter Baxter is the Director General of AusAID. This week he gave this speech at the Women Deliver Conference in Malaysia, and we thought it was so fantastic we published it so you could have a read, too.
By PETER BAXTER
Today I’m going to talk about poverty.
But not poverty as we think we know it.
I’m going to talk about poverty that, in some cases, has been masked by fast-growing economies.
I’m going to talk about the poverty experienced by women and their children in this, the Asia Pacific region.
And I’m going to reflect on some of the lessons that Australia, through our aid program, has learnt from our decades of working in this region.
Though there are many lessons that I would like to share, I’m going to focus on two.
The first is that we need to invest in maternal health as well as women’s education and empowerment.
The second is that we need to be smarter and more innovative in the way that we support women and children in this region.
I’ll also discuss how we plan to tackle these challenges in the future, so that we can empower governments to make lasting change, and help lift families out of poverty.
My message is simple – Australia, through our aid program, is committed to making a change in the Asia Pacific region, and what we need now are political champions to lead this effort.
A forgotten region:
For decades, aid flows have broadly reflected the notion that countries with the lowest GDP need the most help.
In our collective consciousness, the map of the world has been roughly divided into three tiers of countries – the lower, middle and higher income countries– and our aid resources have flowed accordingly.
In Australia, we see the world differently.
We see an Asia Pacific region that has been transformed through strong economic growth, increasingly stable democracies and rising incomes.
Where child mortality has been reduced by a third over the last ten years.
Challenges in the region:
However, we also see millions of poor people, many of them women, who have become invisible.
Around 900 million people in the Asia-Pacific still live in poverty and nearly 20 million boys and girls do not attend school.