THE BLOG
09/03/2013 11:20 am ET | Updated Nov 03, 2013

A Renewed Commitment To Every Woman And Every Child

In just a few weeks, global leaders will head to New York City for the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly and one of the most important conversations of our time. The world's collective efforts to eradicate extreme poverty will take center stage as we celebrate important achievements and discuss how to make even more progress quickly.

First, a little background: In 2000, global leaders committed to a set of eight Millennium Development Goals to reduce global poverty by 2015. Covering a broad set of issues, the goals were meant to motivate leaders and donors to take action for the world's poorest people -- and it worked. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been perhaps the most successful global anti-poverty push in history.

On health specifically, women today are more likely to survive pregnancy and childbirth, with maternal mortality down 47 percent since 1990. Most of this is attributable to the increase in the percentage of women giving birth under the care of skilled health workers and improvements in access to contraception. Children, too, have a better shot at surviving their first five years of life. Child mortality has fallen by 41 percent, due in large part to simple but life-saving interventions, like childhood vaccines and anti-malaria bed nets.

However, significant inequalities in better health outcomes remain -- both among and within countries -- and more work must be done quickly as we approach the 2015 deadline for the MDGs.

Catalytic to our success to date, and critical to any future progress, is the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Every Woman Every Child initiative. Launched in 2010, Every Woman Every Child is a global movement of governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector and civil society to save 16 million lives by 2015. It has mobilized more than $20 billion from over 250 organizations and has shown that all sectors have a role to play in improving the health of the world's women and children.

Every Woman Every Child has inspired a host of new global partnerships and initiatives. The UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities seeks to expand access to life-saving, cost-effective medicines and commodities. Complemented by the Family Planning 2020 Initiative, which is intended to enable 120 million more women and girls to use contraceptives by 2020, these two initiatives could save the lives of 6 million women and infants. Eight countries are in the final stages of developing new strategies on reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, which will inform how these initiatives will be implemented at the national level.

A Promise Renewed, a joint effort of UNICEF and governments around the world, was launched in 2012 as a sustained global effort to end all preventable child deaths by 2035. Since then, over a dozen countries have launched their own national efforts to achieve the goals of A Promise Renewed and give their children a chance at a healthy life.

And, as a final example, in April, partners came together for the first ever Global Newborn Health Conference to develop a new Global Newborn Action Plan, which will be released this November.

With increased harmonization and coordination among donors and other partners as well as increased ownership at the country level, the promise of these initiatives can be fully realized.

We must also continue to hold ourselves -- and our partners -- accountable. Promises must be kept, and commitments must be translated into action. The independent Expert Review Group (iERG) and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (PMNCH) are monitoring progress and analyzing Every Woman Every Child commitments; they will release reports later this month. The idea of accountability is gaining traction as countries are creating their own scorecards and targets to track their progress, but there is more work to be done.

As we have seen, everyone -- individuals, governments, the private sector and civil society -- has a role to play in this movement, and I encourage you to consider making a commitment to Every Woman Every Child and to follow the conversation at #EWECProgress. I look forward to a lively discussion in New York and in the months ahead, among old and new partners, as we find the best path forward to eradicate extreme poverty and save the lives of women and children.

To make a commitment to Every Woman Every Child, click here.

This blog is part of a month-long series in partnership with Johnson & Johnson to highlight the successes and remaining opportunities in the Every Woman Every Child movement. With the aim of improving the lives of women and child around the world, EWEC was launched by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2010 to accelerate progress against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). To learn more, click here.

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