Africa: Women Deliver 2013 Concludes With a United Call to Invest in Girls and Women

press release

Photo: Travis Lupick/IPS
A mother and her child from West Point, a low-income neighbourhood of Monrovia, Liberia. The 10-worst countries in which to be a mother are all in sub-Saharan Africa.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 30 May 2013 — Women Deliver 2013 concluded today with a call for continued investments in girls and women. The conference was the largest of the decade focused on girls' and women's health and rights, bringing together more than 4,500 leaders and advocates representing over 2,200 organizations and 149 countries.

The final day of Women Deliver 2013 focused on the critical need to prioritize girls and women in the lead-up to the 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) deadline and beyond. The morning plenary speakers--including United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark, Former President of Finland Tarja Halonen, African Women's Development Fund CEO Theo Sowa and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark--addressed the importance of placing girls and women at the center of the next development agenda, and discussed advocacy strategies to keep girls' and women's needs in focus.

The appeal for action came one day before the United Nations' High-Level Panel is expected to announce its recommendations for the post-2015 development framework. With progress lagging on the MDGs relating to women, policymakers and activists provided insights about how the next set of development goals can adequately and effectively address women's health and empowerment.

In her remarks, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark called for a global development agenda "which gives priority to gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women to make their own decisions about the lives they lead."

In the conference's closing plenary, Women Deliver President Jill Sheffield and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair Melinda Gates recognized the next generation of leaders for girls and women and presented the first-ever Women Deliver Rising Star Awards to three emerging voices in the field of women's health and rights:

  • Senator Pia S. Cayetano is the youngest woman elected in the history of the Philippine Senate, a champion of the rights of women and children and a staunch advocate for health. Armed with the training of a lawyer, discipline of an athlete and heart of a mother, Senator Pia excelled in her first term as legislator and was reelected to a second term in 2010.
  • Imane Khachani, MD, MSc. is a Resident in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Maternity Hospital Les Orangers, in Rabat, Morocco. She has extensive experience in sexual and reproductive health research and advocacy, particularly for adolescent and young women; and has collaborated with several UN agencies, including UNFPA, WHO and UNAIDS. She currently sits on the Women Deliver and the Guttmacher Institute Boards of Directors.
  • Remmy Shawa works at Sonke Gender Justice in Cape Town, South Africa, and coordinates a project to strengthen work with men and boys in the promotion of gender equality and in ending violence against women in Africa.

Jill Sheffield and Melinda Gates also recognized the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders, an international group of activists under 30 who received scholarships to attend the conference because of their work on behalf of women and girls. The need to engage and include youth in the next development framework was a key theme throughout Women Deliver 2013, and young people's voices and perspectives were highlighted throughout the meeting.

"This week at Women Deliver 2013, we have changed history for girls and women everywhere. We renewed our commitments, shared lessons learned, and listened to those leading the way on women's health and rights, including young people who will carry this important work forward for years to come," said Women Deliver President Jill Sheffield. "Most importantly, we have joined together to raise our voices in a single call to action--girls' and women's health and rights must be prioritized today, tomorrow, and every day until our work is done. Because we know, when girls and women survive, all of us thrive."

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InFocus

Women Deliver 2013 Conference Concludes

A mother and her child from West Point, a low-income neighbourhood of Monrovia, Liberia. The 10-worst countries in which to be a mother are all in sub-Saharan Africa.

Women Deliver 2013 concluded today with a call for continued investments in girls and women. The conference was the largest of the decade focused on girls' and women's health and ... Read more »