Friday, 14 September 2012

Post-2015 Blog Week: 'Building our future, one girl at a time', by Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver

 Joanna Hoffman is Special Projects Manager at Women Deliver, a global advocacy organization bringing together voices from around the world to call for action to improve the health and well-being of girls and women. In this post she explains why women and girls must be at the centre of the post-2015 process, and invites you to join the Women Deliver global conference in 2013.

In just a few years, key international agreements such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the International Conference on Population and Development’s (ICPD) Programme of Action will expire. Opinions about what will come next are mixed: some believe all health issues—including maternal health, child health, and HIV/AIDS—will be collapsed into one objective; others believe the MDGs should be extended; and others believe an entirely new framework will shape the path forward. 

Regardless of what is chosen, we are sure of one thing—girls and women must be at the center of development in 2015 and beyond. More than 215 million women still have an unmet need for modern contraceptives and 287,000 women around the globe die each year from complications arising in pregnancy and childbirth. Most of these deaths occur in developing countries and are entirely preventable.

Safe drinking water is a proven, life-saving solution to preventing maternal deaths, yet still at least 783 million people around the world lack access. Sepsis accounts for 15% of maternal deaths in developing countries. Contact with unsafe water can result in a wide range of bacteria, viruses, and parasites which can weaken pregnant women’s immune systems, leading to potentially fatal complications.

Girls and women are the ones most affected by unsafe water, and by nearly all development challenges. Moving forward, it will be increasingly important to recognize the linkages between girls, women, and all development areas. Girls and women form the majority of the world’s poor and illiterate. In Africa, they account for 75% of those living with HIV/AIDS. They are also those most affected by toxic cooking fumes. 

Given these areas of intersection, it’s important that we now begin to work together across sectors, development fields, and the globe. Tackling the greatest obstacles to human and sustainable development require all hands on deck.

Saving women’s lives is not only the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do. Healthy mothers are more likely to have healthy, educated children. More of their income goes to food, medicine, and other family needs, and their unpaid labor contributes up to one-third of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In short, when girls and women win, we all win. 

In an effort to mobilize strategic partnerships and bring the best and brightest minds together to save the lives of girls and women, Women Deliver is holding a third global conference this May in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We will gather over 5,000 civil society advocates, researchers, Ministers, journalists, Parliamentarians, private sector executives, and youth activists to call on world leaders to prioritize girls and women in 2015 and beyond. The conference will feature over 120 breakout sessions, high-level speakers, and a full day dedicated to discussion on the post-MDG framework. 

I hope you will consider joining us in Kuala Lumpur. Together, we will put the world on notice that girls and women are at the heart of development. They are, in every sense, the future of our world. 

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