Ahead of the opening of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit at the UN in New York City, General Assembly delegates gathered yesterday for a dialogue with bilateral donors, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), First Ladies, youth leaders and the private sector on how to secure the resources and political will needed to achieve the MDGs—with specific focus on delivering solutions for women, girls and babies.
The brunch, “Accelerating Action on the MDGs: Delivering for Girls, Women, and Babies,” was co-hosted by Women Deliver, and several UN, NGO, and foundation partner organizations.
Through featured speakers and round-table discussions, participants focused on commitments to the MDGs; provided messages that can be incorporated in member country oral statements at the UNGASS; and promoted networking and collaboration. As Dr. Fred Sai, honorary co-chair of the Women Deliver 2010 conference said in his speech, “We ask delegates to allocate at least 30 seconds of their five minute speeches at the UN to focus on your commitment to women.”
The brunch’s speakers included Ms. Graça Machel, renowned international advocate for women’s and children’s rights, Mr. Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a managing director with the World Bank, Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, CEO of Vestergaard Frandsen, and Imane Khachani, a member of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights.
In an inspirational speech, Mrs. Machel stressed the possibility of achieving the MDGs, if, and only if, the world’s leaders make the necessary resources available. “This agenda [the MDGs] will never succeed, if it remains only in the hands of us here in New York,” said Mrs. Machel. “It must be owned at the country level, by every head of state, every woman and every girl. Women deliver. But leaders must also deliver.”
A major topic of discussion at this brunch was integration and synergy among all the MDGs. According to Mr. Sidibé, it is clear that investing in one MDG will help achieve the others. “Where HIV is prevented, maternal mortality decreases. When a mother’s life is saved; a newborn’s life is usually saved. When girls are educated, poverty decreases.” Mr. Sidibé added that the AIDS response should be a bridge for joining health and development movements, such as maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health, and women’s rights. “For me, it is clear: no progress on the MDGs without integration,” he said.
Imane Khachani and Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen both touted the need for partnerships, with youth and with the private sector. Dr. Khachani, a physician from Morocco, stressed the need for young people to have access to life-saving contraceptives, sexual and reproductive health services, and comprehensive education. Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen spoke about the need to engage the private sector when developing solutions to addressing global public health issues. "We’re over and over seeing that doing good is good business, and we’re over and over seeing again that there is neither conflict nor controversy between doing good and doing business," he said, highlighting the fact that many companies, including Vestergaard Frandsen, want to be a partner in identifying and implementing solutions to improve the lives of girls and women.
Several of our corporate partners participated at the event. After the event concluded, they met for the first time to discuss and build to the upcoming launch of the Exchange, a forum for corporations that have a common interest in advancing the health care of girls and women. The goal of the Exchange is to create a network of companies that will share ideas and best practices to create solutions to specific, practical problems to make a real difference in the lives of others.
The event was also a celebration of support for the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and his “Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.” Participants discussed how they can support the “Global Strategy,” which calls for all partners to unite and take real action – through enhanced financing, strengthened policy and improved service delivery.
The key messages that were highlighted include:
Women deliver enormous social and economic benefits to their families, communities, and nations.
We have short-term and long-term cost effective solutions to help achieve the MDGs.
Delivering these solutions requires country-level actions: political and financial.
Synergistic benefits accrue to all MDGs when progress is made on MDGs 5, 4, and 6 [as well as 2 and 3].
Delegates were encouraged to support and be part of the UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy on Women and Children’s Health.
Safiye Cagar from UNFPA closed the event by underling the importance of focusing on women in development. “When women are healthy and survive, families, communities and countries thrive. Please say it and say it again. It pays to invest in women! We are counting on you to bring the message to the world,” she said.