KRWG

Nurith Aizenman

Advocates for ending child marriage are trying a new tactic: Show governments just how much the practice is hurting their own bottom line.

The Green Climate Fund has been thrust into the spotlight of late.

President Trump singled it out for scorn in his Rose Garden remarks last week announcing his decision to pull the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. Along with that move, Trump noted, he is ending further U.S. contributions to the "so-called Green Climate Fund — nice name."

Wonder Woman is certainly basking in accolades these days.

The new movie starring Gal Gadot is being widely praised for finally giving the world a big-screen female superhero who — to quote just a few of the glowing reviews — is both "awesomely fierce" and "surprisingly funny," "sexually aware without being sexualized" and a refreshing throwback to the days of "uncomplicated role models ... fighting for peace and justice."

U.S. aid for international family planning would be eliminated.

Programs to combat HIV/AIDS in the world's poorest countries would be slashed by 17 percent.

Efforts to fight malaria would be chopped by 11 percent.

Those are just some of the cuts to global health spending called for by President Trump in the proposed budget he unveiled this week.

On one level the reductions did not come as a surprise. Trump had already made clear in his "skinny budget" proposal, released in March, that he wanted to lower spending on foreign assistance by more than a third.

On paper President Trump's newly unveiled budget proposal is balanced. But that's predicated on an extraordinarily rosy projection for U.S. economic growth: Trump says he expects to achieve annual increases of 3 percent — a substantial boost from the 2016 annual rate of 1.6 percent.

Such pledges were a frequent theme of Trump's campaign. And they were often coupled with the observation that countries such as China and India have been enjoying fast-paced growth for years.

The Trump administration will withhold $32.5 million in funding that had been earmarked this current fiscal year for the United Nations' lead agency on family planning and maternal health, known as the United Nations Population Fund or UNFPA.

The administration says it's doing so because it has determined that UNFPA helps to support a Chinese government family planning program that forces people to get abortions and sterilizations. The U.N. agency says that is not the case.

At a conference in Brussels on Thursday, more than a dozen nations and private funders pledged a combined total of $190 million for international family planning charities that stand to lose their U.S. support as a result of President Trump's Jan. 23 executive action to block U.S. foreign aid funding of groups linked to abortion.

This week United Nations officials declared that a famine in South Sudan is growing — fueled by a deadly combination of drought and conflict. They estimate that nearly 4 million people are already struggling to get enough food. And officials expect the famine will spread to more areas in the coming months affecting an additional 1 million people.

Meanwhile the threat of famine is looming over three other countries: Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, putting a total of 1.4 million children at risk of death this year.

Migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean are sending more money to their families back home than ever before.

It's President Donald Trump's first official act on the abortion issue. On Monday, the new president signed a presidential memorandum reinstating the "Mexico City" policy — barring U.S. aid from any group that provides or "promotes" abortion overseas. The policy dates to 1984, when Ronald Reagan unveiled it at a United Nations Conference in Mexico City. The Trump version is even broader than the incarnations that previous Republican presidents have adopted.

What does this mean in practice? To help make sense of it we've put together an FAQ.

This post has been updated to include more information about the evaluation work done by GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance.

Talking publicly about women's menstruation has long been a taboo. But in 2016 the world made big strides getting over the squeamishness. There was the Chinese swimmer at the Rio Olympics who had no qualms explaining that she was on her period after she finished a race grimacing in pain.

Could vaccinating cattle get more girls into high school?

That's the intriguing prospect suggested by a new study of Kenyan cattle herding families in the journal Science Advances. But even more significant than the actual results of the study is the fact the researchers would even think to investigate whether there's a link between cattle vaccination rates and girls' high school attendance.

Is Wonder Woman being forced into early retirement?

It's come to light this week that the comic superhero's controversial tenure as the United Nations' honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls will be coming to a close this Friday.

If you live in Kenya there's a jingle you hear on television and radio a lot.

Alsarah was born in Sudan to politically active parents. When she was still a child a coup there forced the family to flee to Yemen. Then, after civil war broke out in Yemen, they had to flee again, this time to Amherst, Massachusetts — all by the time Alsarah was 12. But please, says the singer-songwriter, don't pigeonhole her as some sort of "refugee artist."

It's a policy battle that has been playing out over three decades.

In 1984, then-President Ronald Reagan imposed an anti-abortion rule — known as the "Mexico City policy" after the city where he announced it. The rule blocked federal funding for international family planning charities unless they agreed not to "promote" abortion by, among other actions, providing patients with information about the procedure or referrals to providers who perform it.

It's the fifth annual #Giving Tuesday — a holiday marketing tradition inspired by Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, but with a twist. Today thousands of charities are asking us to open our wallets. But how can we be sure the group we donate to is effective — that we're getting the most bang for our charity buck?

Donald Trump will take office at a pivotal time for the world's neediest.

The world's wealthy countries have, since 2000, been part of a historic partnership with poor countries to eliminate poverty and roll back diseases.

"I would like to know more about microloans, and if they are in fact helping women start businesses in the developing world."

That's the question our readers wanted us to look into.

Should the United States aspire to the kind of fast-paced economic growth China and India enjoy?

That's what Donald Trump seemed to say at this week's presidential debate: "I just left some high representatives in India. They're growing at 8 percent. China is growing at 7 percent, and that for them is a catastrophically low number. We are growing, our last report came out, it's right over from the 1 percent level. And I think it's going down."

But are comparisons like this meaningful?

On Friday the United Nations is set to appoint Wonder Woman its honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls. The cartoon character, turning 75 this year, will be the face of a social media campaign that the U.N., will launch at a star-studded ceremony in New York. The actress Gal Gadot — who plays Wonder Woman in the movies these days — is scheduled to be there. So is Lynda Carter, who portrayed the superhero in the 1970s television show.

It sounds like a typical melodrama of a movie — a saga about a big family with issues galore. There's the widowed grandfather who desperately misses his wife. The sensitive younger son who dreams of being a musician. And the daughter who's dipping into the family's stash of cash to pay a con artist who pretends to be a faith healer.

It had all the trappings of a typical beauty contest: Contestants in evening gowns strutting before the judges, a talent portion, and of course, a sparkly tiara for the winning lady.

It's almost a year to the day since world leaders committed to meeting 17 "Sustainable Development Goals" by 2030, from wiping out extreme poverty to fighting disease and inequality.

Perhaps they should have added an 18th goal — compiling all the data needed to achieve the other goals.

This data gap has been the talk among advocates for the poor this week as the U.N. General Assembly's current session got underway. It was at last year's General Assembly that the 17 goals were set.

Can a country have a split personality?

When it comes to Colombia, there's the upper-middle-income nation of gorgeous cities: Think gleaming skyscrapers, landscaped parks and smooth bike lanes all set against stunning mountains.

Then there's the other Colombia, a vast stretch of rural territory that's desperately poor and at best, effectively lawless. At worst, many of these areas are still dominated by some combination of guerrilla forces, paramilitary groups and drug-trafficking gangs that have flourished over 50-plus years of civil war.

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It was one of the worst moments of Durga's life: the morning her father suddenly announced that in about a week's time she would have to get married.

She was 15 years old. Her husband-to-be was in his 40s, had barely been to school and had a reputation as a heavy drinker. Even by the standards of their village in Northern India — where child marriages are still commonplace — this was a singularly bad match.

Georgina Mamba wasn't blind. Yet when she was in the fourth grade she was kept for months in a class for kids who couldn't see.

Then she was transferred to a class for the hearing impaired — even though Mamba wasn't deaf either.

Mamba's problem: At age 2, she contracted polio and essentially lost the use of her lower limbs. And in Zambia, where she's from, the educational options for physically disabled people are extremely limited.

What do Kyrgyzstan, Vietnam, Albania, Germany and Ethiopia have in common?

Turns out all five countries do better than average when it comes to turning their national wealth into a better life for their citizens.

There's also a list of countries that do worse than average. Spoiler alert: The United States is one of them.

This unusual gauge of national success is the brainchild of analysts at the Boston Consulting Group.

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