|Remarks by Nicholas Kristof|
Meeting Global Challenges: Healthy Women, Healthy World
|Nicholas Kristof addressing the crowd.|
But the other aspect of it was that in 1989 we were covering the Tiananmen unrest, and of course it was a major story all over the world. Now, our estimate was that about 500 people died in the suppression of the Tiananmen demonstrations, and it was obviously a hugely important story for China and the world. But then, we began to find that there were a lot of Chinese women who'd bee abducted and sold to villagers in the countryside, and we tried to get a handle on how many were involved, and we found it was about 700,000.
Meanwhile, we found that every year in China, 30,000 Chinese girls under the age of 5 died because they didn't have access to food or health care. And everywhere you looked, the scale of the problem of the gender gap in the developing world was so enormous, and so dwarfed other human rights issues that we were much more attuned to, that I came to see it, and I've periodically described it as, the major moral challenge that we face in the world today, akin to the way slavery was the preeminent moral challenge of the 19th century, or the struggle against the various ideological "isms" and totalitarianism was in the 20th century. In the same way, the paramount moral challenge of this century is going to be that attempt to address the gender gap in the developing world, and you folks are doing that.
The other aspect of it, I think, is simply that there are so many problems that are deeply intractable around the world, and it's very hard to register progress against them. And this is one where, in contrast, there has been a good deal of progress. For example, we know that every year about 585,000 women die in childbirth around the globe, one every 30 seconds. And, in fact, where countries have tried to reduce maternal mortality, they've registered enormous progress. Probably with modest effort, and modest sustained effort, we could save 200,000 of those lives a year. So you have a combination of scale of a problem and an ability to actually make considerable progress on those. So, thank you very much for honoring me today, and my compliments to all of you on your great work. Thank you.