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International Day of the Midwife

By: Janna Oberdorf, Director of Communications and Outreach for Women Deliver

Today, May 5th, is International Day of the Midwife. The world needs midwives now more than ever. The World Health Organization, UN agencies and other global partners have identified that midwives are key to achieving reductions in maternal and newborn deaths and disabilities globally, yet there is a serious shortage. Read more... and get inspired by three midwives honored on the Women Deliver 100 list of the most inspiring people delivering for girls and women, below.

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Juliette Coulibaly, Côte d'Ivoire / Imtiaz Kamal, Pakistan / Dorothy Ngoma, Malawi

Giving UN Women a Chance: The Need for Full Funding

Yesterday, Madeleine Bunting, a columnist for the Guardian who writes on a wide range of subjects including women's issues and social change, wrote about the UN's new agency for women, UN Women. In her blog for the Poverty Matters Blog, she mentions that although world leaders have been vocal about the importance of women's empowerment, they need to demonstrate their commitment by agreeing to properly fund UN Women, which before it's official start is already likely to be under-funded and under-resourced. Read more...

Jill Sheffield Joins High-Level UN Commission on Women’s and Children’s Health

Jill Sheffield, President of Women Deliver, is joining a new UN high-level commission charged with developing an accountability framework that will link resources committed to women's and children's health with the results they are intended to achieve.

"Strengthening accountability is critical if we are to save the lives of more women and children," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "We must ensure that partners deliver on their promises but, in turn, it is crucial that they know whether investments are leading to sustainable progress.” Read more...

UN: $750 Million Needed to Treat Obstetric Fistula

Last Monday, October 11th, the United Nations released a report entitled "Supporting Efforts to End Obstetric Fistula" which estimates that $750 million will be needed to treat existing and new cases of obstetric fistula occurring between now and 2015. 

Despite being almost entirely preventable when universal and equitable access to quality maternal and reproductive health services exists, the Lancet has reported that at least 2 million and as many as 3.5 million women suffer from obstetric fistula.  According to the World Health Organization, adolescent girls are especially vulnerable, and their risk for maternal mortality is two to five times greater than that faced by women in their twenties. Read more...

The Launch of the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health

Yesterday, the Aspen Institute launched the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, and issued a call for resolve: Universal Reproductive Health Access by 2015. The Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health is a group of sixteen sitting and former heads of state, high-level policymakers and other leaders committed to advancing reproductive health for lasting development and prosperity. Chaired by former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, these leaders will mobilize the political will and financial resources necessary to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015 – a key target of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Read more...

Women Deliver and Partners Urge Delegates to Act on the MDGs

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Read the FULL REPORT from the Accelerating Action on the MDGs event.

Ahead of the opening of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit at the UN in New York City, General Assembly delegates gathered yesterday for a dialogue with bilateral donors, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), First Ladies, youth leaders and the private sector on how to secure the resources and political will needed to achieve the MDGs—with specific focus on delivering solutions for women, girls and babies. (Download photos from the event)

The brunch, “Accelerating Action on the MDGs: Delivering for Girls, Women, and Babies,” was co-hosted by Women Deliver, and several UN, NGO, and foundation partner organizations. Read more...

Youth Action: Delivering A Better Future For Women And Girls

By: Ernestine B. Greaves, one of the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders

Globally, we now have the largest generation of youth in history: more than 1.2 billion young people are between 10 and 19 years old. We are the future. Yet our future is uncertain if our health systems and health services continue to fail this generation, and the next.

It’s an unfortunate truth that one woman, every minute, dies from complications due to pregnancy and childbirth around the world. This is also the leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19 in developing countries. Unplanned pregnancy rates continue to be high across the world, and of the 13% of maternal deaths worldwide due to unsafe abortions, almost half of those are aged under 19. The challenges of pregnancy and childbirth threaten young women’s lives every single day. 

Now is the time to deliver for these women. As her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf attends the Summit of the African Union, she must take action on maternal health and protect and promote the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people.

Midwifery Symposium at the Women Deliver 2010 Conference

The Symposium on Strengthening Midwifery: Saving Lives and Promoting Health of Women and Newborns took place 5 June 2010 - 6 June 2010 in the days leading up to the Women Deliver 2010 conference in Washington, D.C. Capitalizing on the momentum pre-conference, the symposium convened over 200 midwives and others with midwifery skills, leading UN agencies, civil society, policy makers and donors (multi-lateral and bilateral) engaged globally in strengthening midwifery education and quality of midwifery services. The primary aim was to build the consensus required to make a fundamental push for investments in strengthened midwifery services, including education, regulation and association, as a way to reach MDGs 4, 5 and 6. The result of the symposium was a joint statement: A Global Call to Action: Strengthen Midwifery to Save Lives and Promote Health of Women and Newborns.

The Numbers Game: The G8 Commits $5 Billion

By: Janna Oberdorf, Communications Manager for Women Deliver

Following up on Canada’s pledge of $1.1 billion of new money over five years, the G8 countries pledge a total of $5 billion. Bolstered by another $2.3 billion from six non-G8 countries, the Gates Foundation, and the UN Foundation, that brings the total contributions to maternal and child health to $7.3 billion.

“Some countries pledged relatively more than others, at least relative to the size of their economies,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “Obviously the differences in pledges have to do with differences in priorities, but also differences in financial situations.”

Accountability a Key Issue for the G8/G20 and Beyond

By: Janna Oberdorf, Communications Manager for Women Deliver

“You need to keep your doors open to speak to us. You are accountable to the people who elected you,” Lysa John from the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) told the leaders of the G8 at a press conference for the Make Poverty History campaign this morning.

Accountability is a key issue in both this year’s G8/G20 summits, and in the larger context of providing the essential services to all women in developing countries to meet MDG5 by 2015. In order to truly reduce maternal deaths, governments need to follow through on the promises they’ve made at previous international and national summits. As civil society, we need to keep watch. Governments and the international community must commit to developing better monitoring and accountability mechanisms and channels for community engagement that address all the many barriers to maternal and newborn health care if we are going to make progress.

Statement from the First Ladies of Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Zanzibar

Hello. We are the first ladies of Ghana, Sierra Leone and Zanzibar and are honored to stand before you today. We believe that the first human right is the right to safe and healthy lives. Maternal mortality denies women prematurely that right and the rate of maternal deaths speaks loudly about the health status of a country. The problems women share recognize no borders. Read more...

The G(irls) 20 Summit Calls for Action from World Leaders

Last week, Jill Sheffield, president of Women Deliver, joined a group of young women from around the world in Toronto, Canada at the first-ever G(irls)20 Summit meeting in advance of the G-20 Economic Summit taking place later this month. They met to discuss challenges facing girls and women across the globe.

Parliamentarians at Women Deliver 2010 Commit to Turning Dialogue Into Action

“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.

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 is attached.

Help spend Bill and Melinda’s money!

originally posted at Conversations for a Better World

This week, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have promised to spend $1.5 billion on family planning, nutrition and general health of women and children in developing countries over the next five years.  But they didn't say exactly /how/ they will invest the money. This is where your ideas come into the picture!  more...

Rage for Justice Motivates Young People

By Joanne Omang

WASHINGTON, June 9 – Cell phone networks, edu-tainment, basketball teams, at least one kidney and great helpings of courage in the face of threats and even murder are bringing young people to the cutting edge of political change for women worldwide, a Women Deliver 2010 panel discussion demonstrated today.

Sarah Nkhoma of Malawi told the 3,000 conference participants that organizing university students to speak realistically about HIV/AIDS risks and sexual behavior earned her an arrest and a severe beating that left her hospitalized. “People don’t want to deal with the fact that young people have sex,” she said. “They owe me a kidney.”  more...

Silent Support is Not Enough, Speakers Say

By Joanne Omang

Political decision-makers will not invest in women’s health needs until their constituents insist on it, participants at the Women Deliver 2010 were reminded today.

In small breakout discussions and plenary sessions, speaker after speaker said “only squeaky wheels get any grease,” as one observer summed up.

Opponents of women’s reproductive rights “have created a visible and vocal constituency that makes politicians afraid to act on our concerns,” noted IPAS executive vice president Anu Kumar in a session on dealing with unsafe abortion. “Vocal and visible leaders in a vocal and visible constituency are critical aspects of moving forward.”  more...

Women and Power

source: The Huffington Post

By Helen Clark, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme

As Prime Minister of my country for nine years and the first woman to lead the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), I believe that achieving gender equality is not only morally right, but also catalytic to development as a whole, creating political, economic, and social opportunities for women which benefit individuals, communities, countries, and the world.

This strong belief underpins my contribution at the Women Deliver event in Washington, DC during a discussion on women and power with an impressive panel of powerful women, including the creator of the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington; former Chilean Prime Minister Michelle Bachelet; actress Ashley Judd; and Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to Barack Obama for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement.

Women Deliver was launched in 2007, and works globally to focus attention on fulfilling what is called "Millennium Development Goal #5." This goal calls for a reduction in maternal mortality and universal access to reproductive health globally. more...

Women Deliver Conference Opens with Promises of Action

By Joanne Omang

WASHINGTON, June 7—It was the personal stories that resonated most.

The Women Deliver 2010 conference opened today with certified heavy hitters sending the right messages out to the world about women’s health needs: “If we act now, and act together, we can deliver for women,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about his global agencies. “You can count on us.”

Good to hear, yes. But the 3,000 attendees really caught their collective breath when Ban recalled his own birth in a home in rural Korea, and about wondering as a child why pregnant women would gaze at their shoes before going into the delivery room. It’s because they are wondering if they will ever step into those shoes again, his mother told him.

Motherhood then was a life-threatening experience, and it still is in too much of the world today, Ban said. So began his life’s work, “a journey to help every woman step back into her shoes again after giving birth."  more...

The Lancet Devotes Entire Themed Issue to Women Deliver

Large numbers of the public remain unaware of the health issues facing women and children. Women and girls make up 60% of the world’s poorest and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate. Yet with education and empowerment, they can lead healthy lives and lift themselves and their families out of poverty. To devise a plan to make women and children’s health more visible, we must listen harder to voices from those countries where most maternal and child death take place. Too often we ignore these voices. A themed issue of The Lancet covers a range of global issues on maternal, child, and newborn health.

Click here to read the entire issue and articles

Maternal Mortality: It’s Time for Our Leaders to Take Notice

By Martha Wainwright

Source: The Huffington Post

My story had a happy ending. Thousands more mothers would too if world leaders stick to a promise they made 40 years ago.

Once upon a time, I was working in the UK and seven months pregnant with my first child. After a show one evening, not feeling 100 percent, my husband Brad took me home to the place we were staying at in North London. I had been excited to get my last week of work over with and go home to the U.S. to prepare for our new arrival. But that night everything came crashing down. All plans flew out the window and Brad and I found ourselves in the emergency room at 2 a.m.

I was admitted right away, which scared me of course, and taken to the maternity unit. I was in pain and bleeding, but I felt calm -- believing, naively, that I was going to get out and still have a normal pregnancy. A midwife visited us and then the consultant. Then the pain became sharper, and my water broke. I yelled and the mood in the room went from calm and jovial to scary and serious. Brad took my hand and we realized that we weren't going anywhere.

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