Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health

This is part of a series focused on the Millennium Development Goals Summit that took place Sept. 20-22, 2010, at the United Nations in New York City. Bread staff and volunteers were live-blogging from the Digital Media Lounge for the MDG Summit and other events. This is a guest post by Rebekah, who works as an intern with Bread for the World's New York office.  


World leaders, philanthropic institutions, and other multilateral organizations came together last week to launch the “Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health” in an effort to recommit to lagging Millennium Development Goals 5 and 6.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon kicked off the panel by noting that this focus is both long overdue and represents a savage inequality in the daily lives of women and children around the world. As a person of faith, it was uplifting to hear a multitude of voices committing to ending gender discrimination and noting that the stability of the future is tied to our success in achieving real gains in MDGs 5 and 6.  

There were clearly different levels of commitment in the opening statements. Countries such as Norway and the United Kingdom, and businesses such as Johnson and Johnson made clear monetary commitments. In several cases, they also noted that they planned to double their commitment at the 5 and 10 benchmarks. These amazing commitments were followed by many developing countries leaders noting the progress they have made with regard to an increase in birth rates, increases in immunizations, and other specific health goals. 

The panel was not completely full of friendly handshakes and applause. The moderator, Zeinab Badawi, was happy to point out those countries that were falling behind in their health goals and other countries in attendance that had yet to fulfill their monetary commitments -- which included, dishearteningly, the United States. I was delighted that Secretary Clinton was able to make a brief appearance, but sadly, like China and other countries present, there was no firm, measurable commitment presented in this venue. She noted that the Obama administration was making this topic a priority and we could trust them to be supportive. Yet in the face of firm commitments from Norway and other countries, her request to "trust" their commitment felt a bit flat. It is certainly something we, as people who are concerned about social justice, will have to continue to monitor to ensure that our leaders fulfill the financial commitments that were made to this governing body. 

The panel ended on a promising note. Panelists noted that aid workers know what needs to be done, and they know how to do it efficiently and effectively. In combination with the new strategy, they will now have both a significant monetary commitment and a governing body that will hold its members accountable to the goals that have been put forth.

Read more about the panel on the WHO website.


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