Women and children must be central to new global poverty goals
The post-2015 development agenda cannot afford to ignore women and children.
This was said when Erna Solberg Prime Minister of Norway, Co-chair of the MDG Advocates Group, and Graça Machel, Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), joined world leaders and the reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) community to review progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
The meeting was intended to focus on women and children’s health, and to identify targets for healthy women and children for the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
The high-level panel of the MDG advocates which brought together a group of eminent personalities working to focus attention on the need to deliver on the vision for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to end poverty by 2030 —met in Johannesburg at the 2014 PMNCH Partners’ Forum, co-hosted by the Government of South Africa, PMNCH, Countdown to 2015, A Promise Renewed, and the independent Expert Review Group.
The Panel discussed several new reports released at the Forum, including the Countdown to 2015 report for 2014, which tracks progress in the 75 countries that account for the vast majority of maternal and child deaths, and the Success Factors for Women’s and Children’s Health report, which analyses 10 countries that have made rapid progress towards the MDGs.
“Globally, we have made good progress on the MDGs,” said Solberg. “But more can and must be done. With fewer than 550 days to the Millennium Development Goals deadline, time is of the essence to scale up our efforts on behalf of women, children and adolescents.”
The leaders called for the new sustainable development agenda to be rights-based, equity focused and to place healthy women, children and adolescents at its core. Leaders called for the new framework, which will be debated by the UN General Assembly in September, to focus on ending preventable maternal, newborn and child mortality, and to ensure sexual and reproductive rights, including universal access to quality sexual and reproductive services.
Since 1990, both maternal and child mortality have halved and 50 million more children go to school each year. However, many challenges remain and further rapid progress on health outcomes will require addressing the multiple determinants of health. For instance, every year 14 million girls are forced into marriage, and in many countries, women and girls still do not have access to adequate education.
“Across the world, the rights of women and girls continue to be grossly violated. The burden of poverty on women is ever present.” said Graça Machel. “Every woman should have access to resources and gain space to assert her aspirations. Nobody should die in child birth. All girls should go to school with their brothers and master the tools for a productive life. ”
The Panel also previewed the PMNCH Partners’ Forum Communiqué, which will focus on working across sectors — including education, infrastructure, and economic development — to ensure a comprehensive, broad-based approach to improving women’s and children’s health. The Communique, which was endorsed by the MDG Advocates, called for this comprehensive response to be enshrined in specific new global development goals.
“We proved that Innovative Financing can help us to reach the MDGs,” said Philippe Douste-Blazy, United Nations Special Advisor on Innovative Financing for Development. He added: “New partners are uniting in South Africa to commit energy and resources towards innovation and saving lives.”
According to Dr Carole Presern, Executive Director of PMNCH: “Today, we leave with renewed energy to make sure that women, newborns, children and adolescents do not die from easily preventable causes; that sexual and reproductive health and rights are respected and that everyone, everywhere should be able to look forward to a healthy, happy and productive life.”
The MDG Advocates are a group of world leaders and development champions selected by the UN Secretary-General to mobilize global action on the MDGs. Engaging high-level leaders from governments, civil society and the private sector, this group works to highlight the need for enhanced investment in priority areas such as health, education, gender equality and women’s empowerment, in order to accelerate progress toward the MDGs.
The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) is a partnership of 625 organizations from seven constituencies: governments, multilateral organizations, donors and foundations, nongovernmental organizations, healthcare professional associations, academic, research and training institutions, and the private sector. The vision of the Partnership is the achievement of the MDGs, with women and children enabled to realize their right to the highest attainable standard of health in the years to 2015 and beyond.
Established in 2005 as a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional collaboration, Countdown to 2015 is a global movement of academics, governments, international agencies, health-care professional associations, donors, and nongovernmental organizations, with The Lancet as a key partner. Countdown uses country-specific data to stimulate and support country progress towards achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
A collaboration between The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), World Health Organisation (WHO), World Bank and the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, working closely with governments, academic institutions and other partners, highlighted ten countries — Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Peru, Rwanda and Vietnam — in a three-year, multi-disciplinary series of studies of 144 low- and middle-income countries. The initiative aims to understand why some countries have been able to accelerate progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) four and five for child and maternal health, while progress has lagged in other comparable countries..