How Can I Help?

By: Jill Sheffield with Maz Kessler; Originally posted on Huffington Post

When I was 27 years old, I met a young mother who became one of my greatest inspirations and left a lasting impression on my life.

I was an idealistic young volunteer at a family planning clinic in Nairobi, Kenya. One morning, a woman my own age walked in asking for contraceptives. She carried a newborn baby on her front, and another, older baby on her back. She told me that she had already been pregnant 11 times, but only had six living children.

I was immediately struck by the fact that although we were the same age, I had so many choices that she did not. Back then, Kenya, like so many other countries, required a woman to have her husband's signature in order to access contraceptives. Read more...

Young Advocates: 10 Ways to Get Involved and Take Action

Looking for an opportunity to become more involved in women's health? Keep reading to find out 10 ways you can make a difference this summer.

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.

Women Deliver 2010 Did More

By: Frances Kissling, a member of the Women Deliver Conference team and is a visiting scholar at the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, U.S., orginally posted at Impact, the magazine for PSI

Richard Horton,the editor of the The Lancet, called the 2010 Women Deliver conference “the most significant event for the future of women and children in 20 years.” What, might we ask, would lead Horton, a man not known for extravagant praise, to make such a claim for a conference? Even if it were one that brought together 3,200 experts and advocates including UN agency heads and the Secretary-General, ministers of health, parliamentarians, health workers, young professionals, and women’s and human rights advocates to talk about maternal mortality and raise public awareness about the need for more funding and better strategies to end maternal death and injury? Has not the world heard over and over again that more money is needed for every development and humanitarian cause in the world to the point of donor fatigue?

Top 5 Highlights from the Women Deliver 2010 Conference

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of the second Women Deliver global conference. To put world leaders on notice that the time for action on maternal health is now, 3,400 advocates, policymakers, development leaders, health care professionals, youth, advocates, and media from 146 countries converged on Washington, DC on June 7-9 at Women Deliver 2010. More than 800 speeches and presentations were given at the six plenaries and 120 breakout sessions. The heads of five UN agencies, plus the Secretary-General of the United Nations, attended. Thirty countries, UN agencies, the World Bank, corporations, and foundations helped support Women Deliver. Please click through for highlights and recaps of the conference.

Making the Final Push for Political Will

By: Kate Dilley, Administrative Coordinator at Management Sciences for Health, originally posted at haba na haba, hujaza kibaba

One of the most striking admissions I heard during the Women Deliver 2010 conference in Washington DC (June 7-9) was that the major challenge facing maternal health improvement is a lack of political will. Kathleen Sebelius, the US Secretary for Health and Human Services, suggested that the problem with improving maternal mortality lay not with the lack of knowledge or interventions, but the political will to put that knowledge to action, the will to make maternal mortality a priority of governments, the will to stand up and say that the lives of women matter, and we MUST do something about it. Read more...

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...

A Welcome Time-Bomb

By: Robert Mukondiwa, a journalist and human rights advocate from Zimbabwe and one of the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders

A time bomb is always something that is said to be ticking and with the ability to have disastrous consequences should it explode. For once I encountered a time-bomb I would have every pleasure in seeing explode.

The Women Deliver conference held in Washington, DC last week with a hope of delivering solutions for women and girls was preceded by a youth symposium that sent an amazing message out and gave me a personal reflective realization... I got a taste of the reality that under the seams of a seemingly quiet world with little going on, there is actually an unheralded youth movement that is about to explode... a ticking time-bomb of extraordinary leadership ready to be unleashed on the world.

Leadership and Management, a Key Ingredient for Improving Maternal Health

By: Dr. Morsi Mansour, Principal Program Associate on the Leadership, Management and Sustainability Program at Management Sciences for Health

Last week at the Women Deliver Conference in Washington, DC, Melinda Gates announced that the Gates Foundation  is committing $1.5 Billion in new grant money for maternal health. “Women and children have moved up on the global agenda, and I’m here to tell you that’s where they are going to stay,” said Gates.

In most developing countries, women and girls are the poorest and most vulnerable parts of the population because of entrenched inequalities. MSH believes that health is a human right; equal access is essential to all aspects of health care. Leadership and management is a key ingredient for improving maternal health – it’s the human element of a health system. Leadership and management is often a missed ingredient. But, effective, simple interventions can save a lot of lives.

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.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Addresses the Women Deliver 2010 Conference

Watch Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, as she addresses and opens the Women Deliver 2010 conference and calls for greater attention and action for maternal health, reproductive health, and women's health around the world. "Women deliver for the world," she says. "Now the world needs to deliver for women."

Siddhartha Yadav on Young People at Women Deliver 2010

By: Siddhartha Yadav, one of Women Deliver's 100 Young Leaders, originally posted at BMJ (British Medical Journal) Group Blog

Last week, more than 3,000 global leaders working in the field of maternal and reproductive health gathered in Washington, D.C for the Women Deliver 2010 conference. With the theme of delivering solutions for girls and women, the conference focused on sharing solutions that can help us achieve the millennium development goals on maternal and reproductive health.

Young people were one of the focuses of the conference.  One hundred young leaders were selected to attend a special youth pre-conference. I was one of them. After interacting with my fellow young leaders, I am amazed by the amount of the work many of them have been doing and its impact in making the lives of girls and women in their communities better. 

Most of the young leaders on reproductive health that I met were not from a medical background. This was a bit of a surprise for me. There were maths students, human rights activists, engineers, managers who have been doing immense work to improve the health of women. This made me wonder if we, young doctors and medical students, are lagging behind in advocacy despite our distinct relationship to health and wellbeing.  Are we too clinically oriented?

BBC: ‘Momentum’ on Tackling Maternal Deaths

By Jane Dreaper, Originally posted at BBC News
Health correspondent, BBC News, at the Women Deliver conference in Washington DC

Campaigners have pledged to keep up pressure on finance ministers to fund efforts to stop women dying in pregnancy and childbirth.

Women Deliver president, Jill Sheffield, told meeting delegates that the economic arguments were "dramatic". It comes after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a boost in funds for women and child health. World leaders agreed 10 years ago that maternal deaths should be reduced by 75% by 2015. Progress on this - the fifth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) - has until recently been slow - but activists say there is now a sense of momentum. Around 350,000 women around the world die each year from preventable problems such as infections or blood clots. Often, they have not had access to basic care during or after their pregnancy.

Women Deliver 2010: Ministers’ Forum Statement

We, ministers representing governments participating in the Ministers Forum at Women Deliver 2010, acknowledge our collective responsibility to improve the health of girls and women especially in developing countries and confirm girls and women’s health as a human right.  We express satisfaction at the progress that has been made so far to improve maternal and newborn health.

However, we are seized by the urgency of the need to overcome once and for all the shortcomings in development policy and programs, particularly the challenges for scaling up the investments in the health, dignity and rights of girls and women in order to achieve sustainable development. Read more...

Watch Highlights from the Women Deliver 2010 Conference

Global Health TV sent a team to Women Deliver 2010 to cover the conference and report on all action! Click through to find links to watch the highlights.

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...

Women Deliver 2010: Moving Commitments Into Action

By: Joanne Omang

WASHINGTON, June 9 – The Women Deliver 2010 conference ended here today with new energy and commitments for action for women’s health from members of parliament, young people and the rest of the more than 3,000 participants.

“My government, like most governments, will react if public pressure is applied to them,” said Dr. Keith Martin, a member of parliament in Canada, at a panel session.

Women Deliver founder and president Jill Sheffield said the three-day gathering was, in Winston Churchill’s words, “not the end, not even the beginning of the end, but perhaps the end of the beginning” in the drive to halt the global toll of women’s deaths and disabilities from pregnancy-related causes.  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...

Let Women Deliver For Us All

By: Karl Hofmann, CEO and President of PSI, originally posted on The Huffington Post

In April, the Lancet released some encouraging statistics on maternal health: maternal deaths dropped from about 526,000 in 1980 to around 340,000 maternal deaths worldwide in 2008. This is a decline worth celebrating, but not a reason to pull back; if anything, this study should drive us to do more: to advocate for necessary policy changes and to push for funding increases for maternal health. We know progress is possible.

More than 3,200 people - everyone from world leaders to midwives working in rural Africa - will convene in Washington, D.C., today to attend the Women Deliver Conference 2010. We are meeting to map out this progress.  more...

Women and Family Planning Missing in Climate Change Talks

By Joanne Omang

WASHINGTON, June 8 – Women as the chief food producers and gatherers of the developing world are being strongly affected by climate change, but they have very little input into discussions of ways to deal with it, Women Deliver 2010 participants learned today.

Panelists considering women, population and climate change at this three-day conference agreed that greater access to family planning can help communities cope with the local impacts of planetary climate change, but that this approach is rarely – if ever – considered in international negotiations on climate change.  more...

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