By: Janna Oberdorf, Communications Manager for Women Deliver
“You need to keep your doors open to speak to us. You are accountable to the people who elected you,” Lysa John from the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) told the leaders of the G8 at a press conference for the Make Poverty History campaign this morning.
Accountability is a key issue in both this year’s G8/G20 summits, and in the larger context of providing the essential services to all women in developing countries to meet MDG5 by 2015. In order to truly reduce maternal deaths, governments need to follow through on the promises they’ve made at previous international and national summits. As civil society, we need to keep watch. Governments and the international community must commit to developing better monitoring and accountability mechanisms and channels for community engagement that address all the many barriers to maternal and newborn health care if we are going to make progress.
The G8/G20 would be a good place to start, but instead civil society organizations are met with barriers and a degree of isolation. “NGOs are profoundly disappointed with the tone the Canadian government has set by barring NGOs and civil society from the international media center for the first time in recent history,” wrote David Olson on Blog 4 Global Health. “In both L’Aquila, Italy and Pittsburgh last year, NGOs and media shared the same media center in a way that was mutually beneficial for both parties.”
Dorothy Ngoma, Executive Director of the National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi, spoke at the press conference about the need for accountability, and the need to make progress, not just promises. “Who is going to protect these women,” Ngoma said. “I’m here to say to the world leaders, you made promises to cut maternal deaths by 75%. But not much progress has been made.”
While the leaders of the G8 land in Muskoka and begin their discussions, civil society organizations are doing everything they can to get their voices heard. The Make Poverty History campaign presented petitions signed by close to 2 million people to the Prime Minister, calling on G8 and G20 Leaders to keep their promises to the world?s poorest people and invest in the future now. In addition to the petitions, a statement released by students? organizations around the world, including the Canadian Federation of Students, representing over 150 million students called for a commitment to education and public services. The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood delivered a letter to G8 leaders signed by 14 million health workers, urging G8 leaders to double official development assistance (ODA) for maternal, newborn and child health to fill the 3.5 million gap of health workers in countries where women often give birth alone or without professional help. And Women Deliver is bringing our call to action from the 3,400 participants who attend the Women Deliver 2010 conference just two weeks ago.
“Ultimately, it?s about accountability,” said John. “We hope the strength of these global voices will give them the courage to stay the course.”
- For great background information and useful links on the G8 and G20 summits, go to the Global Health Council’s special G8/G20 webpage.