09/19/2011 03:41 pm ET | Updated Nov 19, 2011

A Celebration of Progress for Women and a Pledge to Do More

This week, world leaders convene at the United Nations General Assembly to review progress to achieve the Millennium Development Goals as the 2015 deadline looms.

Maternal and newborn health is at the heart of their promise to reduce global poverty. What we need now is more health workers to save the lives of mothers during pregnancy and childbirth and their precious newborn babies, too.

And, while world leaders must play their part, following through on commitments made for resources to strengthen health systems, we too must step up to mobilize popular will so political leaders everywhere hear the call for more health workers, better supported in every
community so no woman anywhere dies for lack of care.

I'm delighted to have co-hosted with Arianna Huffington and Donna Karan this morning the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) Wake Up Call for Women and Newborns of the World breakfast and the Women Inspiration & Enterprise (WIE) Symposium in New York City.

Here we can help build bridges with our sisters in developing countries, giving voice to the girls and women at the heart of advancing progress for their families, communities and nations.

I urge you -- women from around the world -- to join with us to do what you can to involve others in the efforts in your communities. We, all of us, can find our way to each play our part.

As Global Patron of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood I have seen how vital it is that we meet together, listen to each other, learn from and become inspired by each other - because only by uniting in common cause can we reach the goals of equity and justice for women around the world.

And for me, the litmus test of how we are doing is how women are treated during the vital and vulnerable time of pregnancy and childbirth. Wherever we live, there is a simple and clear connection between education, empowerment and respect for girls and women, and their survival in pregnancy and childbirth.

Until recently there was a shameful silence about the numbers of women -- one a minute -- who were still dying for lack of health care as they struggled to bring new life into the world. I'm proud to be part of a rapidly growing global movement that is ending that silence, and I'm
proud that in many countries women's chances of surviving to care for their children have begun to improve.

But we still have a long way to go. Today is a very special opportunity for us to celebrate our common cause, and to join hands in solidarity with women everywhere in our shared goal of making the world a better place.