|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Delivering on Commitments for Women and Children ‘Will Advance Better Life
for All People’, Secretary-General Says at South-South Awards Ceremony
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the South-South Awards event in recognition of the Global Strategy for Women and Children’s Health, in New York today, 13 October:
Thank you for choosing to honour me today.
I accept this plaque on behalf of the men and women working across the globe to save millions of women, newborn infants and children. Last year, at the United Nations General Assembly here in New York, we launched the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health to support them.
The Strategy was created with the full support and collaboration of Governments, international bodies, philanthropic organizations, the private sector and civil society.
More than $40 billion has already been committed for its implementation.
The Global Strategy is supported by Every Woman, Every Child — a global effort to help turn these commitments into reality, building on existing initiatives in the South, such as the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa and South-South News.
Earlier this year, I travelled to Nigeria and Ethiopia to mobilize further support for the strategy and to see what it means to women and children, health workers in cities and rural health centres in the developing world. In Nigeria, one doctor told me: “Each and every one of us came out of a woman. As long as there is one maternal mortality, it is a family mortality.”
In our time, it is unacceptable to allow women and children to die when we have the tools and resources to save them. One year ago, we committed to deliver on three fronts. We said we would honour commitments to improve women’s and children’s health. We said we would develop a framework to ensure accountability. We said we would work together to bring in new partners. This is what we are doing.
I have championed this cause in many countries, in my meetings with world leaders and in my appeals to partners in the private sector and civil society. They have responded with a wealth of funding, ideas and initiatives. And we are getting results: as of today, more than 60 countries have committed to step up efforts to improve women and children’s health. Fifty-seven are Southern Governments.
It is in the South where implementation of commitments has begun in earnest. In Bangladesh, midwives are being trained and deployed; in India new business models are ensuring quality and affordable deliveries for mothers at hospitals; and in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean, innovations in technologies are helping to deliver care in rural areas.
Governments and other partners are investing in essential – but often neglected — medical supplies, providing access to family planning and putting more money into health and development budgets. Partners have dedicated more than $4 billion for new vaccines. With this funding, we can vaccinate 250 million children and women in the coming years.
As a result of our initiatives and other ongoing work, more children are living past their fifth birthday. Fewer women are dying in childbirth. More HIV-positive mothers are giving birth to HIV-negative babies.
But, ladies and gentlemen, millions of women and children are still dying needless deaths. Political roadblocks litter the path ahead. Decisions to invest where resources are most needed can be slow. A woman’s right to access the services she needs is sometimes denied. Trained health workers are in desperately short supply. Women and children across the developing world still struggle with poor sanitation, dirty water and food shortages.
But let us not lose our optimism — or our momentum. Our newest pledge to advance the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health comes from South Sudan — the UN’s newest Member State. I am extremely heartened by this important commitment.
The Commission on Information and Accountability, under the leadership of President Kikwete [United Republic of Tanzania] and Prime Minister Harper [ Canada], will help ensure that all promises are kept.
As I prepare for my second term, I am determined to make Every Woman, Every Child one of the greatest success stories in our march toward truly sustainable development. In a single year, this effort has turned into a truly global movement. Thank you for sharing the news about this movement with your audiences in the South and around the world.
When we deliver for every woman and every child, we will advance a better life for all people around the world. I thank you for recognizing this important initiative.
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