By: Jill Sheffield, President of Women Deliver
Last month, we received the good news that maternal mortality rates are on the decline – maternal deaths have fallen by nearly 50 percent over the past two decades. With this good news at our heels, we’re excited to announce the opening of registration for the Women Deliver 2013 conference – the largest global conference to focus on the health and empowerment of girls and women of the last 10 years.
The upcoming year is a critical moment for girls and women. As we see the rates of maternal mortality go down, we see that success is possible and that solutions exist. But our work is far from done – 800 women are still dying during pregnancy and childbirth every day and countless more are injured. What we need now – and more urgently than ever – are even stronger political and financial commitments to save and improve the lives of girls, women, and newborns.
That’s exactly why the Women Deliver 2013 conference is so important. On May 28-30 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, more 5,000 participants from around the world will convene with one goal — a commitment to improve the lives of girls and women. Participants will include Heads of State, government and UN officials, Ministers of Health and Finance, Parliamentarians, youth advocates, corporate executives, healthcare professionals, academics, civil society organizations, and advocates. To ensure that there is strong participation from those individuals on the front lines in the Global South, Women Deliver will provide conference and travel support to 1,000 participants.
When we meet in 2013, we will be nearing a historic deadline – the end of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015. While a great deal of progress has been made, there is still a long way to go and MDG5 – to reduce maternal mortality – is the most off-track of all the MDGs. This conference will be an opportunity to strategize about the road to 2015 and beyond, highlighting ongoing challenges, success stories, and new opportunities ahead of us.
Here are some highlights we’re anticipating for the Women Deliver 2013 conference:
- High-level participants: The conference will include ministers, parliamentarians, UN heads, global media, and CEOs – and hopefully you will join them! We will convene these participants to ensure that the key issues affecting girls and women are visible and collect commitments to girls and women’s health and empowerment leading up to 2015 and beyond.
- Exciting speakers and revolutionary thinkers: In 2010, we heard from such speakers as Ban Ki-moon, Kathleen Sebelius, Michelle Bachelet, Mary Robinson, Michel Sidibé, Melinda Gates, Arianna Huffington and many more during our sessions and plenaries. We are expecting equally exciting and inspiring speakers at the 2013 conference to lead the discussion once again.
- Youth Participation: Women Deliver is committed to meaningful youth participation, and has set aside 50% of all scholarships for young people under 30-years-old from various regions to participate. There will also be a youth pre-conference, a youth track in the program and youth speakers throughout the conference.
- Exhibit Hall: Expect to find a hub for discussion, networking and learning in this space. There will be lounge chairs for conversations, free wi-fi, an areas for skills-building workshops, unlimited coffee and snacks and space for groups to showcase new technologies, innovative products and exciting work. If you’re organization is thinking of exhibiting, I encourage you to sign up early!
- Opportunities for Professional Development: Not only will there be side trips to clinics and service programs in Kuala Lumpur, giving attendees a unique opportunity to learn about programs that have helped Malaysia achieve its phenomenal success in reducing maternal mortality, but there will be a career fair available for organizations to recruit young participants and staff.
I hope that you will participate in this unique and game-changing international conference. Whether you focus on health care, technology, telecommunications, manufacturing, entertainment or finance, the health of girls and women affects the health of your industry.
See you in Kuala Lumpur next May!