Women and children’s health were on the agenda at the 124th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which took place April 15-20th in Panama City, Panama. The Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, gave the keynote address on “Building Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment” to 600 parliamentarians from around the world, highlighting the need for women’s leadership and political participation. In addition, the Director of the Partnership for Maternal and Newborn Child Health (PMNCH), Carole Presern, spoke to the IPU Plenary on the need for political will and parliamentarian support in saving the lives of women and children. She looked towards recent successes demonstrating momentum towards reaching the MDGs 4 and 5, such as the Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality (CARMMA) in Africa and the US Global Health Initiative, among others. “None of this would have been possible without parliamentarians, and strong political will. In short, there is political will such as we have never seen before on MNCH,” said Dr Presern.
Also during the assembly, PMNCH and the Every Woman Every Child campaign partnered to hold a roundtable, “Parliamentarians Taking the Lead: Maternal, Newborn and Child Health”, in which speakers demonstrated the need for parliamentarians to lead efforts on MNCH and provided examples of in-country efforts around the world. Parliamentarians were specifically called upon to:
- Represent women and children
- Advocate for MNCH
- Legislate to ensure universal access to essential care
- Budget for women’s and children’s health
- Hold the government to account for implementing financial commitments and policies
- Introduce and agree on an IPU resolution on MNCH