Women Deliver 2010
With more than 3,000 participants, Women Deliver 2010 was the largest gathering on women’s health in more than a decade. Next to Ministers and First Ladies, health experts, UN representatives, advocates and youth representatives, this year’s Women Deliver Conference that was held in Washington, D.C. from 7-9 June 2010 also hosted a Parliamentarians’ Forum for the first time. The European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF) in cooperation with the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD), the Forum of African and Arab Parliamentarians on Population and Development (FAAPPD) and the Inter-American Parliamentary Group (IAPG) brought more than 50 Parliamentarians to Women Deliver 2010.
“The biggest enemy of women’s health and rights is political indifference”, Jill Sheffield, President of Women Deliver remarked during the opening plenary session. The Parliamentarians’ Forum on “Delivering Solutions, Delivering Resources, Delivering Leadership: The Role of Parliamentarians in advancing Maternal Health” was dedicated to prevent just that and discussed the way forward to achieve MDG 5 in the remaining five years from a Parliamentarians’ angle.
Hon. George Tsereteli, MP (Georgia) and EPF Vice-President, Hon. Maria Antonieta Saa, MP (Chile) and IAPG President and Hon. Pallathu Joseph Kurien, MP (India) and Vice-President of the Indian Association of Parliamentarians for Population and Development presented success stories of advancing maternal health in their countries and regions but also emphasised the difficulties and obstacles from the conservative and religious opposition Parliamentarians, civil society and advocates face for example in Chile in this regard. Ms. Safiye Ça?ar, Director IERD, UNFPA highlighted the important role Parliamentarians have in achieving maternal health and universal access to reproductive health until 2015. “You are responsible for listening to your constituents, to represent them adequately and to act as legislators”, Ms Ça?ar emphasised. Mr. Bert Koenders, former Minister for Development Co-operation of the Netherlands said that the role of Parliamentarians is underestimated. “Politicians need to break the silence that still surrounds MDG 5 and sexual and reproductive health and rights”, Koenders remarked. “Yes, we face economically difficult times and yet”, Koenders emphasised, “Parliamentarians need to ensure that family planning allocations are not cut since these are the most cost-effective and efficient investments to save women’s and children’s lives in developing countries”. During subsequent discussions, participants emphasised the need for more co-ordination and cooperation between the Parliamentary networks, with their governments and with civil society; the need to ensure that linkages between the health MDGs are leveraged and better communicated and that priorities in the next 5 years have to focus on 1) more funding for MDG5 by using all available mechanisms, 2) fight against corruption, 3) the need to kill the taboos that still surround MDG5 and SRHR, 4) better policies for adolescent girls and boys and 5) strengthening health systems. Finally, Ms Susan Cohen from the Guttmacher Institute delivered facts and figures on what amount is needed to ensure access to modern family planning services and maternal and newborn health: “We need an additional $12 bn each year to attain MDG 5 by 2015. This is a little more than double the current spending in these areas”, Cohen calculated. “That sounds a lot but in fact this is the sum that Europeans and Americans spent on perfume each year”, she closed.
The Parliamentarians’ Forum culminated in a Parliamentarians’ Statement. Amongst others, Parliamentarians called for additional US $12 billion a year to be invested in women and girls and to actively work towards the establishment of a global funding mechanism for family planning, mothers and children with other international donors. The statement urges Ministers to establish realistic and verifiable annual action plans for reaching individual MDG targets with a special emphasis on MDG 5 (a and b) to be presented at the UN High Level Meeting on the MDGs and commit to take a leading role in communicating the societal, economic, political and cultural benefits of investing in women and girls to key stakeholders. The full statement can be downloaded here.
Renewed cooperation with Members of US Congress.
Women Deliver was also a unique occasion to renew contact and co-operation with Members of the US Congress on maternal health and family planning. Several Members of Parliament from Europe, Asia, Africa and America were invited by Congresswomen Lois Capps, Gwen Moore and Jan Schakowsky who were Members of the Women Deliver 2007 Congressional Delegation and are Members of the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues for a discussion on MDG 5. The exchange of view touched upon the state of play on MDG 5 in the various regions and countries the Parliamentarians represented and the achievements Members of the Congressional Caucus were able to deliver on maternal health. Representative Capps for example introduced the “Improvements in Global Maternal and Newborn Health Outcomes while Maximizing Successes Act”, or “Global MOMS Act,” on Mother’s Day. This Act calls for access to quality health care from pre-conception through pregnancy, childbirth and post-partum care. Parliamentarians were united in the necessity to pressure governments to deliver for women and girls, the need to reduce barriers for access to quality family planning services and the centrality this plays for the status of women in society as well as the need to improve co-operation between countries and continents.
For more information on the Parliamentarians’ Forum at Women Deliver, contact Nadine Krysostan at: Nadine@iepfpd.org or Vincent Villeneuve at: Vincent@iepfpd.org
Parliamentarians at Women Deliver 2010 Commit to Turning Dialogue Into Action
June 18th, 2010
Women Deliver 2010