Wall Street starts a worldwide recession and donors are contributing less money than ever to the ambitious UN plan to slash poverty. But the world body nonetheless believes it can garner a startling $40 billion in new money.
We know from our own experience as presidents that progress on women's health and rights does not happen without political leaders who are willing to take risks. We call on all leaders to take such a risk now.
No doubt prenatal care, malnutrition, access to a hospital and skilled professionals could prevent most maternal deaths. But the squeamishness of talking about family planning -- in short sex -- is a no-no in many nations.
Development cannot be a project imposed on people but must be a common journey led by the people themselves. A human rights approach to development is essential: it puts people in control of their own lives.
As the world moves toward review of the Millennium Development Goals, other nations should take a closer look at the success of Sierra Leone's maternal health program and commit to apply its lessons around the world.
Last weekend, the G8 leaders made a $5 billion commitment to maternal health. Combined with pledges from other donors, this will prevent 64,000 women from dying in childbirth and save 1.3 million young lives.
Bangladesh will no doubt be a UN "development star." But it still has a long way to go when it comes to saving women's lives, and showing the rest of the world how to achieve the most critical of the Millenium Development Goals.
While we naturally think of Mothers Day in American terms, I can't help but think of that woman I met -- long since passed away -- and those like her who are battling each and every day for the future of their children.
The interconnectedness of disease teaches us that without a healthy mother, a child is 10 times more likely to die in the first years of life, is less likely to be fed and is less likely to go to school.
While the UN says that the world is on track to reach the first Millennium Development Goal of cutting poverty in half by 2015, progress toward reducing maternal mortality by 75% by 2015 remains disappointing.