Delivering for women and girls

by David Nabarro, Special Adviser of the U.N. Secretary-General
Monday, 16 May 2016 09:48 GMT

In this 2011 file photo, Somali refugee girls attend Koran classes at the Liban integrated academy at the Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, in Garissa County, Kenya. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

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* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

A sustainable future for all of us depends on women and girls, and their involvement is critical to the attainment of peace and prosperity

A sustainable future for all of us who live on planet earth depends on women and girls. Their involvement is critical to the attainment of peace and prosperity, and ensuring that our planet enables all its inhabitants to live lives of dignity and fulfillment.

I saw this first hand during the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. Women and girls have been at the heart of the response, facing multiple risks as they looked after members of their families who were ill, coping with shortage of employment, reduced income, closed schools and lack of access to health care for common diseases. Ebola responders did their best to ensure good quality care and safe burials. Many of these first responders were women, consistently showing their strength, their courage and their leadership in one of the most challenging epidemics in recent years. 

Our vision for the future incorporates the strength and courage of women and girls: it ensures that they are priorities within development strategies and the key ingredients that make them come to life. Their health is one of the vital stepping stones. Women and girls cannot thrive if they lack the information, services and basic supplies they need to realize their rights, and become healthy, productive and active members of their societies. Only then can they catalyze changes needed for all people to enjoy a better future.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, BAN Ki-moon, launched the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030) at the same time as the Sustainable Development Goals were launched last September. Rallying other leaders in the international community, he was convinced of the need for intense efforts to promote the health and wellbeing of women and girls.  He saw this as key to successful implementation of Agenda 2030.

The Global Strategy is designed to support SDG implementation over the coming fifteen years. It accelerates the momentum of actions to end avoidable deaths, and improve the health and prospects of millions, especially people who are the most vulnerable and hardest to reach. The Global Strategy is fully aligned with world leaders’ ambitions for the new development era: it aims to leave no one behind: it’s for the women, children and adolescents who need it most: they will implement it, everywhere.

I am pleased to be addressing such issues at the 16- 19 May 2016 Women Deliver conference: this will be an important moment to discuss how to best implement this vision and to measure our success.

The Global Strategy envisions a world in which women, children, and adolescents realize their rights to physical and mental health and well-being, benefit from social and economic opportunities and are fully able to participate in shaping prosperous and sustainable societies. It is set out in three thematic pillars: Survive: end preventable deaths; Thrive: ensure health and well-being; and Transform: expand environments that enable women to be healthy.  

The transformative aspect of this work involves action beyond the health sector.  The overall focus is on addressing gender inequalities in access to secondary education, economic opportunities and political participation, which will have profound and positive impacts on women’s well-being.

Achieving the Global Strategy requires well-targeted investment in research and smart innovation, yielding up-to-date and relevant knowledge that is made freely available in response to the local needs and national priorities within all nations.

So far, over 40 nations and 120 organizations have made official commitments to implementing the Global Strategy, with pledges towards its achievement that are worth more than $25 billion. In this way they are setting the foundation for women’s lives – in present and future generations – that are more healthy, equitable and prosperous. This is the Movement for Every Woman Every Child and it is growing day-by-day. 

Those who participate in the Movement for Every Woman Every Child have contributed to the lives of millions of women and children, supporting impressive achievements through joint action, innovative working and inclusive engagement.  Great things have been done to help increase the potential of every women and every child. But there is so much more to be done.

If you would like to make your commitment to Every Woman Every Child, please do not hold back. Please join the Movement: we count on you.

David Nabarro serves as Special Adviser of the United Nations Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change.