During the Sunday UNGASS official side event, “Accelerating Action on the MDGs,” delegates were encouraged to focus on commitments to the MDGs and the synergies enhanced by collaboration, networking and funding. Dr. Fred Sai, honorary co-chair of the Women Deliver 2010 conference asked the delegates to allocate “at least 30 seconds of their five minute speeches at the UNGASS to focus on your commitment to women.”
In the opening plenary at the UN MDG Summit, heads of state from around the world presented their countries’ groundbreaking progress on MDG5 and affirmed their commitment to improving maternal health, increasing women’s empowerment and expanding family planning. Out of the 70 countries that spoke at the Monday and Tuesday morning plenaries, over half of the countries explicitly mentioned maternal health and women’s empowerment. Three international agencies emphasized the need to bolster commitments and resources for investing in women and girls.
Here are some highlights from the country statements:
Monday, 20 September 2010:
- The representative from the UNDP, chair of the UN Development Group, called for cost-effective investments in maternal and child health to avoid many unnecessary deaths. We need to put countries on a fast track to meeting the MDGs. We will call on NGOs, foundations, private sector, donor countries. Let’s just do it.
- Minister for Home Affairs of Nepal affirmed that Nepal is on the right track with progress on MDG 1, 2, 4, 5 and 7. Universal access to reproductive health and some targets under MDG 7 will not be met without further commitment by the international community. The rights of women are priority, including the right to reproductive health.
- Minister of Health for the Republic of Nigeria congratulated the Secretary General for launching the Global Strategy for Maternal and Child Health. Maternal health has been the most challenging but investment has yielded progress—a cause for which we should redouble our efforts.
- President of the Republic of Malawi discussed government constructions and upgrading of health facilities especially in rural areas and training personnel to improve maternal health services. Malawi is making progress towards gender equality with women holding more offices than ever before.
- Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Norway encouraged partner countries to do their part. Health is a wide driver of development. The Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health deserves our support.
- Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Finance of the Independent State of Samoa advocated for voluntary family planning, the empowerment of women and women’s enjoyment of all human rights which are crucial to the achievement of all MDGs.
- Minister of Finance Burkina Faso cited the progress that has been made against fighting poverty, particularly in the area of education and health. National maternal and child mortality rates have decreased. Gender equality still remains a challenge. To achieve the MDGs, we need robust political will. Burkina Faso believes the MDGs must be seen as rights and must be an integral part of global development strategies.
Tuesday, 21 September 2010:
The Tuesday afternoon country statements continued to demonstrate the renewed global commitment to investing in girls and women. Nearly two thirds of the 45 countries presenting spoke out about MDG5, girls education, and increasing income generating activities for women.
The country statement highlights from Tuesday afternoon’s session:
President of the Republic of Sierra Leone highlighted the risks in missing MDG 4 and 5 targets. Sierra Leone is creating health programs for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under 5. This will significantly help improve the child and maternal health indicators, but poverty and education are far behind.
Prime Minister of Canada urged delegates to keep promises and work towards practical and doable actions. Countries must demonstrate accountability. At G8 Summit, Canada introduced aid effectiveness. Globally we must commit to MDG 4 and 5. Progress is possible only if we are willing to take collective action. The Prime Minister rallied delegates to support to the Muskoka Initiative to save millions of lives.
Prime Minister and Minister for Defense and Public Service of the Kingdom of Lesotho stressed the interrelatedness of the MDGs. The success of the MDGs is linked to the success of the health MDGs. At the summit in Kampala, African States committed to invest in health and to put an end to the high rates of maternal and child mortality.
POVERTY ALLEVIATION FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS
President of the Republic of Rwanda appealed to the delegates for increased work towards the health of our women and girls. He also called for the creation o poverty alleviation programs that can be completed with more regional cooperation and increased South – South partnerships.
President of the Gabonese Republic was encouraged by the climate that has allowed Gabon to fight against poverty, HIV/AIDS for maternal and child health, etc. Gabon has taken strides against poverty by increasing income, minimum wage and paying income to the poorest Gabonese. Additionally Gabon has made progress towards gender equality and the empowerment of woman with the creation of a new Ministry of Gender.
President of the Republic of Cameroon highlighted the need for energy resources to facilitate agricultural production, water supplies and income-generating activities for the poorest, especially women. Energy has a role in increasing girls’ education and empowerment by reducing their presence in the home. Employment for girls and women is a crucial factor in alleviating poverty. Achieving the MDGs will hinge on increasing employment.
PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN
President of the Supreme Council for Restoration of Democracy, Chief of State, President of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Niger described how the new constitution ensures the health of women and children and protects against any violence against women.
Official country statements can be found at the UN MDG Summit website.
Wednesday, 22 September 2010:
In the final day of the UN MDG Summit, country leaders came forward to announce progress in achieving MDG 5 and urged world leaders to follow through with their commitments. In the country statements, there was a significant focus on women’s empowerment, the improvement of maternal and child health, and involvement from the private sector. Of the 47 countries that made statements on Wednesday, nearly all mentioned the need to improve maternal health and invest in women’s empowerment.
Here are some highlights from the country statements:
- Country leaders from Panama, Costa Rica, Kyrgyz Republic, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Peru, and India highlighted significant in-country reductions of maternal mortality.
- President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka spoke of how the moral virtue of society can be measured by the quality with which we treat women. In the health sector, Sri Lanka works to ensure that a skilled birth attendant attend the every expectant mother.
- Prime Minister and Minister for General Affairs the Kingdom of the Netherlands announced strong support for working with the private sector to achieve MDGs. To achieve the MDGs, innovative thinking is needed in every field, especially in MDG 3 and 5. Too many women are still dying during pregnancy and childbirth.
- The representative from Libya stated that skilled-birth attendants are present at 98% of childbirths.
- The representative from Uruguay described national initiatives to prevent unsafe abortion and sexual and reproductive health that have helped reduce maternal mortality.
- Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Denmark discussed how the involvement of the private sector is essential in achieving the MDGS. Additionally, there is no hope of achieving the MDGs without a focus of women. Women must be able to decide if and when they want children. Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are critical.
- Prime Minister of Japan announced initiatives in maternal health as well as education. Japan’s upcoming contribution to these issues will amount to $800 Million. Specifically, Japan will focus on maternal and child health, 3 major infectious diseases and will provide an assistance model for maternal and child health. This model seeks to provide numerous health services including improving access to hospitals and immunizations to ensure a continuum of care from pregnancy to after birth.
- President of the Slovak Republic celebrates the creation of the new entity for gender equality and the empowerment and women: UN Women. Slovakia is behind on MDG 1, 2, 3 and above all, MDG 5. The President also cited the importance of the private sector in achieving these goals.
- Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom affirmed the UK government commitment to child and maternal health, spearheaded by the Secretary General. The MDGs must a priority for every country in the room. The world must ensure that healthy mothers can raise strong children. Women and girls hold the key to prosperity.
Find the full country statements from Wednesday’s UN MDG Summit here.