Speech at the launch of the Global Strategy for Women and Children’s Health

World Vision was honoured on Tuesday, 22nd September, to represent civil society at the launch of the Global Strategy for Women and Children’s Health in New York.

I was invited to join Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, Heads of State and Government, and representatives of foundations, research organisations and the private sector.

The strategy commits us to a concerted worldwide effort to save the lives of more than 16 million women and children. Stakeholders pledged more than $40 billion in resources for women’s and children’ health.

“We know what works to save women’s and children’s lives, and we know that women and children are critical to all of the MDGs,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Today we are witnessing the kind of leadership we have long needed.”

The work that lies before us in the next five years is immense, but I feel that the launch of the strategy marks a great stride forward. Here is what I said at the launch event in the United Nations Headquarters, New York. (You can view the speech on this UN page - it's in the third video clip, at 12:37):

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me express my gratitude to the Secretary General for his leadership and his vision for a world in which millions more children and women not only survive, but thrive and are in good health.

This strategy is important and timely. It seeks to correct one of the greatest inequalities of our age, putting right the tragic injustice of eight million children and more than three hundred thousand pregnant women who die every year from preventable causes.

To ensure real, lasting change, it is imperative that this inspirational strategy mobilises civil society, with its committed people, expertise at the local level and resources.

We all need to play our part to ensure that health care can reach places where health systems have fallen behind.

Civil society is rallying behind this plan. World Vision has committed one point five billion dollars over the next five years to address the health needs of women and children, through their families and communities. Together with BRAC, Care, Save The Children and many other national and international NGOs we have made a combined commitment of more than five billion dollars between now and 2015. That’s equivalent to the amount pledged by the G8 countries in the Muskoka Initiative.

Civil society works with women and mothers, providing community health education, training and resources. We support comprehensive vaccination coverage, and ensure communities have access to clean water, sanitation, and nutritious food. These are proven interventions that save lives.

As we increase resources, we will also seek to enhance the quality of programming. We will look for more effective partnerships and encourage innovation. The cumulative effect of our efforts for the health and well-being of women and children will be greater than the dollar commitments could ever accomplish on their own.

All our efforts combined will reinforce the growing movement of people who are committed to the world’s most-marginalised women and children.