As world leaders congregate in New York for the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, policymakers, advocates, and experts convened a high-level event to focus on the need for greater global investment in reproductive health, education, and equality for girls and women.
Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark delivered opening remarks at the event, “Invest in Girls and Women: Everybody Wins,” co-hosted by Women Deliver, The Permanent Mission of Denmark to the UN, Plan International, the Nike Foundation, and the UN Foundation. The event was in support of Every Woman Every Child, an initiative launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that aims to drastically improve the health of women and children around the world.
“We need increased investment in women and girls,” said Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. “We need to close the gender gap and if we can do that, it will be a win for the individual, for global development, and economic growth – everybody wins.”
Dame Billie Miller, former Deputy Prime Minister of Barbados and Women Deliver Board Member, moderated the event and spoke of the importance of the meeting: “There has never been a better time to raise our voices in support of the health and empowerment of girls and women, and to ensure they are a top priority in global development. We must strive to build a world where girls’ and women’s rights are recognized as human rights, access to sexual and reproductive health services is guaranteed to everyone, especially young people, and every pregnancy is planned.”
The Crown Princess was joined by Ib Petersen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN, and Manu Sareen, the Denmark Minister for Children, Gender Equality, Integration and Social Affairs. Other speakers included Amina Mohammed, UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning; Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director (Management) at UNFPA; Sharon D'Agostino, Vice President of Corporate Citizenship at Johnson & Johnson; and Humaira, a representative of Plan International’s Global Youth Speakers Network.
Together they saluted the significant progress that has been made for girls and women – maternal deaths have nearly halved in the past decades and more girls are attending primary and secondary schools than ever before. However, the speakers called for urgent action to accelerate progress and reach the ambitious Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by governments in 2000.
"The global community recognizes that empowering women and girls is an imperative, not only because it is a human right, but also an indispensable tool for addressing the unfinished business of the MDGs and advancing sustainable development," said Ms. Mohammed.
As global decision makers assess progress on the Millennium Development Goals and begin to chart a path for the post-2015 agenda, the Commission on the Status of Women presents an important opportunity to prioritize the rights and needs of adolescent girls in particular. A key element of these conversations is the Girl Declaration, a call to action to put adolescent girls at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda. Signed by more than 100 individual champions and leaders from non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and multilateral and international development agencies, the Girl Declaration recommends priority guiding principles, goals, and targets to embed adolescent girls in the design, content, implementation and monitoring of the post-2015 framework. Investment in adolescent girls’ education, health, safety, economic security and citizenship are critical to accelerating progress on the current Millennium Development Goals, as well as advancing the future development agenda.
Plan International’s Global Youth Speakers Network representative Humaira said, “Girls were not put on this earth to be invisible. I am here today to help ensure that the millions of girls living in poverty across the world are heard. The post-2015 framework must include the voices of both girls and boys. We have rights, needs and dreams and want these to be counted. This includes the right of every girl to complete a quality education and live free from violence. Don’t forget us because we are poor and silenced. The world needs to wake up to our potential.”
The event also featured the release of a new advocacy toolkit from Women Deliver, “Invest in Girls and Women: Everybody Wins,” that pulls together infographics, data points, and key messages to make the case for investing in girls and women.
Minister Sareen closed the event saying, “We know that investing in girls and women is not only the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do.”
Check out the Storify of the event for tweets from co-hosts, speakers and partners.