|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Deaths during Childbirth Unacceptable in Twenty-first Century, Secretary-General
Says, at Americans for UNFPA Event Honouring Health, Dignity of Women
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the Americans for UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) Gala Dinner for the Health and Dignity of Women, in New York on 7 October:
It is a pleasure to be here.
We gather at a very exciting time. I believe we are witnessing a turning point in women’s health. The world is waking up. The shocking statistics on maternal mortality are making headline news. And you — Americans for UNFPA — have played a central role in getting us to this promising moment. You have mobilized, you have advocated, you have applied pressure.
As everyone here knows, in some countries, one woman in eight dies in childbirth. This is simply unacceptable in the twenty-first century. We have known how to make childbirth safer for 100 years. But until now, we have lacked the political will. Finally, it seems, that is changing, and we are seeing the results.
Two weeks ago, I launched the United Nations Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. Our various partners pledged $40 billion. For the first time, we have an agreed game-plan centred on women’s health and their reproductive needs. We can and will offer women the means to plan their pregnancies, and to bear children safely.
This freedom is an integral part of women’s dignity. And it is vital for the health of their families, communities and societies. Investing in women’s health is the best investment we can make. It has a multiplier effect across all our development goals.
The United Nations Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s health stresses women’s empowerment. Women must lead the way. That is why the creation of the new United Nations agency, UN Women, is such an important step. It will bring a new, unified, consistent approach to all our work for women, including equality of opportunity and an end to sexual violence.
Advocacy groups such as yours play a critical role. You here in this room have made outstanding efforts. I thank you for your long-term commitment and unflagging support, through good times and bad. President [Barack] Obama and his Administration have now put women and children at the forefront of their Global Health Initiative. That is very encouraging news. It is clear that the American people — thanks to everyone here tonight, and others like you — have decided that enough is enough.
Tonight’s programme would not be complete without a few words about the inspiring leadership of Dr. Thoraya Obaid. Dr. Obaid has been a tireless champion of women’s human and reproductive rights. She has been fearless in breaking down barriers and challenging stereotypes. Dr. Obaid, as you complete a decade of service for UNFPA, we all thank you for your wonderful contributions.
I also congratulate all tonight’s honourees for playing their part in this crucial battle. In so many different ways, as community leaders and engaged citizens, you have stood up for women’s rights to life-saving care and to equality of opportunity.
I am privileged to be in your company. Americans for UNFPA are our vital partners in our work to build a better world. I look forward to our continued and strengthened cooperation.
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