Ban Ki-moon's speeches


Remarks at Every Woman Every Child Taking Action Summit

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 07 May 2013

Thank you for that kind introduction – and my thanks to our hosts:  JP Morgan, the UN Foundation and the MDG Health Alliance.

I strongly commend efforts such as this to bring together private sector leaders who understand the importance of corporate social responsibility and giving back – and who believe in taking action. 

I know that in this room we have many of the world’s top thinkers, experts, and philanthropists from across sectors and industries. 

I am also very glad to see many partners of the Every Woman Every Child movement: Pharmaceutical companies like Johnson and Johnson and Merck … communications agencies like McCann … research institutions such as ICDDR,B in Bangladesh … champions of Nigeria local efforts including the Wellbeing Foundation … and my good friends and lovable characters who made the commute all the way from Sesame Street.

Last year, I visited Sesame Street.  I had a wonderful exchange with the muppet Kami and forever earned a place in my grandchildren’s hall of fame!

I know you have spent the morning discussing the child and maternal health challenge. 

So I won’t repeat what you have heard.

Let me begin by stepping back a bit.

As Secretary-General, I am determined that the United Nations makes the most of the opportunities and innovations of our age. 

In the 21st century, no institution can solve global challenges on its own.  There is no monopoly on good ideas.  That is why I believe so deeply in partnerships – strategic partnerships.  

Our Every Woman Every Child initiative is a pioneering example of this new way of tackling common global challenges. 

I believe passionately in this effort because of all that I have seen around the world and in my own life. 

I grew up in Korea just after the war.  This was long before the days of Hyundai … of Samsung .. and, yes, of even Psy!

We were a desperately poor country. 

My village was destroyed.  My home, my school – both were rubble. 

One of my earliest memories was seeing women who were going to give birth gazing at their simple rubber shoes, which they left at the back door. 

I asked my mother:  What does it mean? 

She explained that the women wondered if they would ever step into those shoes again.  Giving birth was so risky.  They feared for their lives.

And so they just gazed at their shoes in a sort of quiet prayer – hoping that there would come a day when they could step in them again.  

Always, there were doubts. Often, there were tragedies. Many women died.

And so did many babies.  In Korea, in the past, parents would wait to register or even name their children because they did not know whether those babies would survive.

My true birthday is actually different than the one on my birth certificate.

All of this may sound like ancient history, but these fears remain a reality in Africa, in Asia and many other parts of the world.

In the 21st century, this should be unacceptable.

And in the 21st century, we can do something about it.

That is what Every Woman Every Child is all about.

The initiative brings together governments, the United Nations and multilateral organizations, civil society and non-governmental organizations and members of the private sector – particularly business and philanthropic communities to save millions of women’s and children’s lives. 

Our goal is to provide a stage where all those in a position to contribute can come together to exchange life-saving ideas and solutions. 

We want to connect the private sector’s greatest strengths with the public sector’s greatest challenges.

I know that all of you get many requests every day for many noble causes.  I also know that you are looking for impact – real results that you can measure, that you can see. 

I believe that Every Woman Every Child meets that test.

In three short years, more than 260 partners have joined our movement, including over 70 countries.

Political momentum keeps growing.   In my meetings around the world, Presidents and Prime Ministers are putting this issue at the top of their agenda – and that is translating into across-the-board government support. 

A broad and unique coalition is mobilized so new resources will not only be a part of a growing wave of momentum – those investments will also be well-leveraged. 

Philanthropy can play a particularly important role as a catalyst for under-resourced and often neglected areas of women’s and children’s health that can be quickly made available for larger public and private flows.

Now is the moment for old and new partners to do more – because we are in a race against time. 

Last month, we kicked-off the 1,000- day countdown to the Millennium Development Goals deadline.

Partners in the Every Woman Every Child movement vary – from vaccine donor to grant maker … product innovator to technology developer … researcher to logistics experts … policy advocator to communication specialists.

But everyone has a role to play. 

Our target is to save 16 million women’s and children’s lives – and I know each and every one of you can make a significant difference.

Every Woman Every Child is a global movement, but it is also a local one.

It is a worldwide effort that engages national governments and multilateral agencies, but it is also an individual one – that taps into passions, interests, and collective urge to do the right thing and make an impact.

With the leadership that we have already seen from so many of you, and the many more partners that we hope join, I have no doubt that we can make a difference for millions around the world – and for the future that we share.

Thank you for your engagement and commitment.  Thank you for taking action.