Washington, D.C.

19 April 2018

Deputy Secretary-General's Opening remarks at High-level Roundtable Discussion “Gender Matters: Investing in Women, Children and Adolescents” [as prepared for delivery]

Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
I am honoured to join you. I thank the Global Financing Facility in support of Every Woman Every Child for organizing this important discussion.
 
Recent decades have seen substantial progress in global health. More women are surviving child birth.  More children are living to celebrate their fifth birthday.  Infectious disease rates are, on the whole, decreasing.
 
But progress remains uneven – both within and between countries.
 
According to the World Health Organization, nearly half of the world’s population still lacks access to health care. 
 
Nearly 20 million infants continue to miss out on vital immunizations. 
 
And women and girls continue to fare worse.
 
With a US$ 33 billion financing gap for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health, these women and girls continue to be left further and further behind.
 
Yet we have the tools and innovations to change this reality. But we must scale their delivery, equitably, to ensure universal coverage.
 
This is central to the ambition of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Its 17 Sustainable Development Goals demand a new way of working that elevates issues – like health – beyond the traditional silos that have governed our programs and investments.
 
The SDGs will yield a high dividend if we invest wisely – starting with our women, children and today’s historic number of adolescents.
 
The Every Woman Every Child initiative provides a platform for action, placing women, children and adolescents at the center of the SDGs and uniting partners across sectors so that transform their own communities.
 
Its Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health provides a roadmap for action against the SDGs through the lens of women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and well-being.  
 
And the Global Financing Facility in support of Every Woman Every Child is paving the way for a new era of financing for development. It is a critical vehicle for the investments needed to close the funding gap for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health.
 
I congratulate the GFF leadership on the successful launch of its first replenishment for the GFF Trust Fund, which seeks to mobilize an additional US$ 2 billion to expand the GFF to a total of 50 countries over the next 5 years.
 
The case is clear: An investment of just $5 per person per year in the countries with the highest maternal and child mortality burden would yield nine times the economic and social benefit in one generation.   
 
Accelerated investment would prevent 5 million maternal deaths, 147 million child deaths, and 32 million stillbirths.
 
Expanding access to contraception alone would account for half of all of these prevented deaths.
 
Continued investment through the Global Financing Facility will help take us over the finish line – but only in cooperation with key actors such as the H6 Partnership, which provides technical support at country-level, and the Partnership for Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health, which plays a significant role in advocacy and accountability.  
 
Success will also require us to better to build alignment between the various financing mechanisms, particularly in a crowded health space, to unlock efficiencies and maximize our collective gains.
 
We must also make sure our investments across the board are gender-responsive, equity-driven and foster whole-of-government approaches – beyond the health sector. Without this, we will continue to fall short and further isolate those who hold the most potential to ensure the health and resilience of our societies.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Women, children and adolescents are the beating heart of national economies.  Greater investments will not only end preventable death and illness; they will unlock a ‘grand convergence’ in health, leveling the playing field and giving all women, children and adolescents an equal chance to achieve their full potential.
 
It is an investment we simply cannot afford to miss.
 
I thank you, and look forward to a fruitful discussion.