UNITED NATIONS, N.Y., March 9 Bill and Melinda Gates and the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development have won this year's United Nations Population Award. Announced here today, the Award is given annually to individuals and institutions for outstanding work in population and in improving the health of individuals.
Chaired by Malaysia's Ambassador to the United Nations, Hamidon Ali, the Award Committee chose the laureates from 28 international nominees. The Committee consists of 10 United Nations Member States, with UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, as its secretariat. The Award is scheduled to be presented on 3 June at a ceremony at the United Nations.
Bill and Melinda Gates, co-founders and co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have long been working on a "simple premise: all lives have equal value. Today, billions of people never have the chance to live a healthy and productive life," and they decided to help in correcting that situation, according to a nomination report presented to the Award Committee. They have expressed their intention to give away most of their fortune over their lifetime, and have strongly expressed their conviction that "healthier families, freed from malaria and extreme poverty, would change their habits and have fewer children within half a generation." Through direct financing and by providing "seed money" to elicit the participation of other donors, they have galvanized private involvement in philanthropic enterprises.
Mr. and Mrs. Gates have long focused on problems of maternal health and family planning in developing countries, and on identifying the root causes of these problems in order to find innovative solutions. In its advocacy role, their foundation has championed the Millennium Development Goals.
The Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD), created in 1981, comprises 25 national parliamentarian committees and has offices in 13 countries. Its main goal, according to a report to the Award Committee, is to inform, educate, motivate and involve parliamentarians on issues related to reproductive health, family planning, food security, ageing, urbanization, migration, HIV and AIDS and women's empowerment. AFPPD also helps prepare laws on the elimination of violence against women in Asian countries.
Some successful examples that illustrate AFPPD's efforts include: Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines and Sri Lanka adopted new laws on HIV and AIDS; Indonesia approved the Domestic Violence Law and amended those on health and population; and the Philippines and Thailand adopted bills to eliminate violence against women.
The United Nations Economic and Social Council elects countries to the Award Committee for three-year terms. Currently, these members are: Bangladesh, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Ghana, Guatemala, Jamaica, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Norway and the United Republic of Tanzania. The United Nations Secretary-General and the UNFPA Executive Director are ex-officio members.
SOURCE United Nations Population Fund