Delivering Real Results and Resources for Girls and Women

By: Jill Sheffield, President of Women Deliver

Last week, the UN Commission on Women and Children’s Health released the final report, “Keeping Promises, Measuring Results,” with recommendations that will serve to hold countries and organizations accountable for the commitments they make to save the lives of girls, women and children around the world. I am honored to have been a part of this Commission. The brief and intense process has produced an accountability framework to deliver real results and resources for girls and women through monitoring, review and action. 

My fellow Commissioners and I took on an ambitious goal – to focus on results and resources to ensure that much-needed funds are used to save the lives of girls, women and children. We know that investing in girls and women is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Too many girls and women still die during pregnancy and childbirth, and it’s time to put a stop to these needless deaths and to hold governments accountable for their actions and their promises. This framework will ensure that commitments are turned into action, and that those actions take into account not only the health needs but also the human rights of adolescent girls and women.

The ten recommendations agreed to by all Commissioners are practical actions that can be taken by all countries and all partners. The recommendations do not seek to reinvent the wheel – they build on and strengthen existing mechanisms wherever possible.

It is wonderful that we came together for realistic, tangible indicators on reproductive, maternal and child health, and I’m happy to see that the inclusion of human rights is one of the core principles of the report. While the three main health status indicators, including the maternal mortality ratio and under-five child mortality, are essential for monitoring MDGs, these indicators alone do not reflect progress over short periods. We need more timely and reliable data that can monitor rapid changes in a set of key interventions to improve women’s and children’s health. These indicators are strategic and significant, and they include the adoption of a reproductive health indicator on contraceptive availability, one of the only inclusions in the final report for MDG 5b.

There was a great deal of negotiation for a stronger investment in protecting the health of girls. Investment in teenage and adolescent health is crucial to achieving the MDGs. We need to make childbirth and delivery safer for women, but also ensure that girls and women are empowered with access to reproductive health counseling and services, including education, contraceptives, and safe abortion. I was happy to see the inclusion of a recommendation that countries must periodically review and analyze barriers in access to health services for women, especially young women.

At the close of this Commission, I look forward to seeing the United Nations Secretary-General, national governments, civil society and development partners act on these recommendations. Doing so will not only benefit women’s and children’s health, but offer opportunities to integrate wider health priorities within a single accountability framework.

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