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Delivering for Girls and Women Through UN General Assembly Week

As world leaders, international agency heads, government officials, civil society representatives, corporate executives, and youth advocates begin to gather in New York City for the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Women Deliver is poised to call for greater awareness of and investments for the health, rights and wellbeing of girls and women. Read more...

UNSG Report Highlights SRHR Worldwide

Last week, the United Nations Secretary-General's report on key issues emerging from the 2014 Commission on Population and Development (CPD) was made available online. The report, Recurrent themes and key elements identified during the sessions of the Commission on Population and Development, draws from statements delivered during CPD and provides a comprehensive overview on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) worldwide. The report also highlights remaining challenges in promoting SRHR to help guide future action. Read more...

SRHR Beyond 2015: A Good Step Forward, But Still Some Way To Go

By: Katja Iversen, CEO of Women Deliver

Last week proved to be an intense week of negotiations in the last of 13 meetings of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. Civil society organizations and countries who support sexual and reproductive health and rights, adolescent and youth issues, and gender equality fought long and hard to get targets included into the final report for the Secretary-General.

The good news is that we succeeded – somewhat – in getting these important issues included in the report that will serve as part of the foundation for the new global development framework for the next 15 years. Read more...

Working Hard to Get the World We Want: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights After 2015

By: Katja Iversen, CEO of Women Deliver

Imagine a world where no woman dies giving life, where unwanted pregnancies are a thing of the past, where every girl is able to attend school and receive a quality education, and where everybody – including girls and women – can exercise their rights and have the opportunity to fulfill their potential. That world is within reach, and the time to fight for it is now.

For those who care about maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights – whether advocates, activists, private sector representatives, or policy-makers – we’re approaching a very crucial time in a process that will affect girls and women around the world for decades to come. It’s time to take a deep breath, and to come together for a next-to-final push through this last mile. Read more...

Q&A with Katja Iversen About Her Vision for the Future

In this Q&A, Women Deliver’s new CEO Katja Iversen shares her motivations for becoming an advocate for girls’ and women’s health and rights; discusses lessons she has learned in her career; offers advice for emerging advocates; and describes her vision for the future for girls and women around the world.

Q: What first inspired you to become a maternal and reproductive health advocate?

I’m proud to say it was my grandmother. Back in the 1930s she – in her own quiet and behind-the-scenes way – fought fiercely for girls’ and women’s reproductive rights in Denmark, where I am from. At the time, only married women could get access to modern contraceptives.  She and my granddad lived together without being married, and she worked seven days a week to get him through college, so getting pregnant just wasn’t an option. Even when she got married and had kids, she kept up the fight for all women’s reproductive rights – because it was just the right thing to do. Read more...

Women Deliver: Stand by Our Girls

By: Jill Sheffield and Katja Iversen, Women Deliver

One month ago today, terrorists took more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls from their families. Since then, the global community has rallied together to call on our governments to bring them home. This outpouring of support for the girls and their families is truly remarkable. Every tweet, every blog post and every protest is keeping this issue at the top of the global agenda, and we cannot stop until these girls are safely home.

For far too long, girls have faced extraordinary barriers to education, from the Taliban’s assault on Malala Yousafzai to cultural traditions that force girls into marriages instead of into classrooms. Despite this, girls in Nigeria and around the world continue to exercise their right to learn. If there is anything we can take away from this tragedy, it is the bravery, strength and determination that each of and every one of these girls has exhibited in pursuit of her education. Read more...

45 Percent Fewer Women Die Giving Life—More Would Survive If They Counted

Women Deliver welcomes two new studies that highlight reductions in maternal mortality and the causes behind those deaths, but calls for further improvements in overall data collection for girls and women

6 May 2014 – The number of women dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth has declined by 45 percent, from 523,000 in 1990 to an estimated 289,000 in 2013, according to a new study, Trends in Maternal Mortality Estimates 1990-2013, released today by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), The World Bank and the United Nations Population Division.

The progress is noteworthy, but the decline is less than what is needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by 75 percent between 1990 and 2015. Read more...

CSW: Good News for Women’s Rights

Women Deliver welcomes the strong outcome of the 2014 UN Commission on the Status of Women, where a big battle was fought to prioritize gender equality and view women’s rights as human rights in the next development agenda.

After two weeks of tough negotiations between delegates, advocates praised the strong language around sexual and reproductive health in the outcome document. With the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set to expire at the end of next year, the Commission recognized that although the MDGs have advanced progress in some areas, the goals that focus on the health and well-being of girls and women, particularly surrounding maternal and sexual and reproductive health, have made the least the progress. Read more...

Gender-based violence and HIV: addressing twin epidemics

By Hajjarah Nagadya

Hajjarah Nagadya is a young woman living with HIV and a mother of one. She is a member of the International Community of Women Living with HIV in Eastern Africa, as well as the UNAIDS Dialogue Platform for Women Living with HIV.

Governments, NGOs and activists are currently gathered in New York for the 58th Session on the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which I am attending as a representative of the Link Up project. As a young woman living with HIV, I want to make sure that the issues that really affect women living with HIV are addressed. Gender based violence (GBV) is a key driver of HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa, where approximately 61% of people living with HIV are women. Women have become the face of HIV in the region, and GBV is a major factor fuelling this. Violence of all forms, particularly affecting vulnerable groups most at risk of the HIV epidemic  including young women, sex workers, and transgender women, must be addressed. Read more...

Global Leaders Call for Greater Investments in Girls and Women

As world leaders congregate in New York for the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, policymakers, advocates, and experts convened a high-level event to focus on the need for greater global investment in reproductive health, education, and equality for girls and women.

Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark delivered opening remarks at the event, “Invest in Girls and Women: Everybody Wins,” co-hosted by Women Deliver, The Permanent Mission of Denmark to the UN, Plan International, the Nike Foundation, and the UN Foundation. The event was in support of Every Woman Every Child, an initiative launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that aims to drastically improve the health of women and children around the world. Read more...

Raise Your Voice for Newborn Health

Worldwide, 2.9 million babies die within their first month, largely from preventable causes. A new report released by Save the Children, "Ending Newborn Deaths", shows that the the first 24 hours of a child's life are the most critical, with more than one million babies dying each year on their first day. Yet half of these deaths could be prevented if the mother and baby had access to free, quality health care. A group of partners, led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, are working to turn the trend of newborn deaths around and have developed a strategy with goals and targets around ending newborn deaths titled Every Newborn: an action plan to end preventable deaths.

In order to make the plan as effective as possible, experts and advocates are asked to submit comments before Friday, February 28th on this page.The draft action plan highlights the tremendous progress made to improve child and newborn health, and affirms newborn health as a human right as recognized in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Read more...

Leaders’ Support Key to Success of Breastfeeding Advocacy

By: Rehema Namukose, Women Deliver

This week, the Impatient Optimists blog, and a subsequent Facebook post by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, spotlighted the politics of breastfeeding promotion. For leaders who haven’t joined the cause to promote breast feeding, now is the time. It is estimated that over 800,000 child deaths in the developing world could be prevented if mothers are encouraged and supported with breastfeeding. These deaths can be avoided if we unite to support mothers in giving their children better lives from breastfeedingRead more...

Girls: The World’s Greatest Return on Investment

By Dr. Denise Dunning; Originally posted on Impatient Optimists

My mom is from Argentina, and we often spent Christmas holidays there while I was growing up. When I was 12, I was riding on a train with my parents to spend Christmas Eve with family friends living outside of Buenos Aires. The mood on the train was festive – everyone was dressed up and many carried holiday gifts. At a station about 20 minutes outside the city, I saw a teenage girl board the far end of the train. The girl, only a couple years older than me, was carrying a baby and dragging a toddler along behind her. They were ragged and very poor – their faces were streaked with dirt and their clothes were torn. Read more...

Groundbreaking Report on ICPD by UN Secretary-General

In addition to the release of the ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Report, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also authored a timely and progressive report assessing progress made under the ICPD Programme of Action. In the report, Framework of Actions for the follow up to the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Beyond 2014, the Secretary-General notes that the ICPD review:

…overwhelmingly supports the ICPD consensus that respect, protection, promotion and fulfilment of human rights are necessary preconditions to improving the development, dignity and well-being of all people; and that sexual and reproductive health and rights, and an understanding of the implications of population dynamics are critical foundations for sustainable development. Read more...

Today is a Significant Day in Mali

By: Molly Melching; Originally posted on Thomson Reuters Foundation

Today, on the UN-recognized International Day promoting the abandonment of female genital cutting (FGC), these 14 neighborhoods have decided that they will no longer support the practices of female genital cutting and child/forced marriage. This public declaration marks a major change in community norms.  It will be a reference point people will use for generations to come marking the moment when they, as a collective group, agreed to protect the health and human rights of their daughters. Government ministers, traditional and religious leaders, hundreds of people from Yirimadio neighborhoods, project donors, Tostan International staff and Tostan’s implementing NGO partner, Muso, have all gathered at the Yirimadio community stadium to witness this celebratory event. Read more...

Accelerating Development Agenda Top Priority for ECOSOC

Originally posted by United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

With the United Nations development agenda in transition – moving from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) era towards a focus not just on poverty eradication but also on the health of the planet – the newly-elected President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) pledged to continue to strengthen that body’s role as a platform for unified dialogue on sustainable and inclusive development. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: The Universal Periodic Review as an Inroad to Progress

By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver

In Kyrgyzstan, civil society groups such as Labrys Kyrgyzstan have been struggling for years to convince the government to expand women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services, to develop sexuality educations programs, and to effectively prosecute violence against women and LGBT individuals. In the face of strong gender norms and a legislative system reluctant to respond to domestic violence, the path to progress has been long and fraught with obstacles.

In 2010, Labrys Kyrgyzstan and the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI) partnered to submit a report to the United Nations through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). As a result, the government of Kyrgyzstan accepted recommendations from the Czech Republic and Uruguay to review and reform legislative actions around gender-based violence and hate crimes, and invited Labrys to hold a training for government officials. Read more...

Post-2015 Development Framework: What’s In It For Young People?

By: Lindsay Menard-Freeman, Women Deliver, and Julie A. Cornell, Johnson & Johnson

On Thursday, September 26th a group of young activists from around the world gathered at the UN Church Center to discuss ways in which young people can contribute meaningfully to the post-2015 development framework, particularly related to HIV and access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Each speaker underscored the importance of ensuring that young people have a seat at the table where global development decisions are made and a stake in the post-2015 development agenda.

Dr. Luiz Loures, Deputy Director of UNAIDS, opened the session by reminding the audience of a stark statistic: There are 1.8 billion young people around the world and 3 billion people under the age of 30. The majority of policy makers deciding the post-2015 framework will be far advanced in age, or indeed no long around, by the time most of these young people have matured into adulthood.

So where are the young people in this discussion about the future of development? Read more...

The Everyday Heroes

By: Pamela Barnes; Originally posted on Huffington Post

Did you know that today is World Contraception Day? Many articles in your newsfeed today will likely call attention to the fact that despite ongoing advances in global reproductive health, there are still 220 million women around the world who want to avoid or postpone pregnancy but who lack access to modern contraception. World Contraception Day shines light on the urgent need for family planning and how best to get it into the hands of the women who need it most. A crucial but often forgotten link is the health care provider. When I think about World Contraception Day, I'm reminded that at some point in our lives, all of us need access to reproductive health information. Who gave you the information you wanted and needed? I would like to introduce to you to Nurse Peace Ametsitsi, an everyday hero whom I met while I was in Ghana. Peace helps women at the Koforidua Polyclinic in Eastern Ghana -- up to 50 a day -- find peace of mind in their lives. This post is dedicated to Peace, and to all health care providers whose guidance puts us on a healthy path. Read more...

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka from South Africa appointed as new UN Women Executive Director

New York (10 July)—UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka from South Africa as the new Executive Director of UN Women, the organization leading the UN’s work on advancing gender equality and women’s rights. Read more...

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