Washington, DC— On Sunday, April 13 2008, co-founders InterAction, Women Thrive Worldwide and the World Conference of Religions for Peace launched the Women, Faith, and Development Alliance (WFDA) at Breakthrough: The Women, Faith, and Development Summit to End Global Poverty. This unprecedented coalition of influential leaders represent more than 70 organizations in the feminist, faith and international development communities that work to bring an end to poverty. As the first demonstration of their commitment to finding common ground and to empowering women and girls worldwide, the WFDA partners have made Breakthrough Commitments totaling more than US $1 billion.
The WFDA partners, including representatives of governments, multilateral institutions, nongovernmental organizations and corporations as well as individuals, made commitments individually and in "clusters," where several partners jointly pledged. Twelve of these commitments, several from each the faith, development and women’s communities were announced in The Washington National Cathedral at the Breakthrough Summit by organization representatives, explaining their motivation and commitment to end poverty.
On behalf of women's groups, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Thoraya Ahmed Obaid presented a commitment to raise $500 million over five years to sustain and launch programs and, in partnership with key stakeholders, to set up a fund to reduce maternal mortality, collaborating actively with the UN Secretary General's campaign to end violence against women, empowering adolescent girls and indigenous women, and strengthening collaboration with faith-based organizations.
Obaid is also part of the breakthrough Summit Leadership Council of WFDA, guiding on-the-ground efforts to support women and girls around the world and to end global poverty. On Monday, April 14, the Leadership Council of met to strategically plan the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of commitments made at the Breakthrough Summit. InterAction will be following the progress of the commitments over the next year.
To specifically address maternal health, Family Care International (FCI) led a cluster commitment to take steps to provide universal access to the three pillars of maternal health: comprehensive reproductive health care; skilled care during and after pregnancy; and emergency care if life-threatening complication develop - through published and online materials, training and orientation manuals for new and field staff, and in activities of programs and projects world-wide.
As the organizing partner of the Women Deliver initiative, FCI also pledged five percent of the outreach budget to connecting with faith-based organizations and to involve three faith leaders in the pre-planning process for Women Deliver II. This commitment acknowledges the significant role that faith-based organizations play in providing health care in poor communities worldwide, and the organization pledges to reach out to faith communities while working to increase investments in maternal health as a human right and development issue.
As at Women Deliver, young people carried critical messages into the spotlight, and some of the young advocates from Women Deliver also spoke at the Summit. Andrew Francis of the of the Jamaican Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN) and Alice Hope Birungi of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, Uganda joined Stellamaris Mualeh of the International Movement of Catholic Students, Kenya, on the Breakthrough main stage. They spoke about how young people are involved in the effort to empower women and girls and reduce global poverty from women's, development and faith-based organizations. Hope explained clearly, "There is a real need to empower the women and girls of Uganda. There's nothing for us without us."
Overall, the Breakthrough Summit shared the vision and theme of Women Deliver: Invest in Women—It Pays! Speakers and commitments highlighted the need for adequate financial investment in women and girls to benefit the lives of women, their families, communities, and nations. As the Honorable Madeleine Albright said in her keynote address, "Investments in women and girls hold the key to an achievable goal - the elimination of extreme poverty and injustice."
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You can post your own commitment on the WFDA blog. The organizers are eager to hear from you: Why do you think it's so important to empower women worldwide? Can you share a travel experience that made you realize the key role women play in developing countries? Or can you make your own personal commitment to your time, energy, money or talents to this cause? Click here.
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