Monday, September 20, 2010

Integrating the MDGs: delivering for girls, women and babies

Mr Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS

Ahead of the opening of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit at the UN in New York City, General Assembly delegates gathered today for a dialogue with bilateral donors, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), First Ladies, youth leaders and the private sector on how to secure the resources and political will needed to achieve the MDGs—with specific focus on delivering solutions for women, girls and babies.

The event, Accelerating Action on the MDGs: Delivering for Girls, Women and Babies, was organized by the global advocacy organization Women Deliver, and co-sponsored by UNFPA, WHO, World Bank and UNAIDS. Speakers included Ms Graça Machel, renowned international advocate for women’s and children’s rights, Mr Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a managing director with the World Bank.

‘Achieving the MDGs is possible’
The speakers presented compelling cases for the possibility of achieving the MDGs, if the world’s leaders make the necessary resources available. With 110 million children not having access primary education—of which two thirds are girls—and women being disproportionally represented among the 1.4 billion people living below the poverty line, many of the MDGs seem far from attainable.

“This agenda will never succeed, if it remains only in the hands of us here in New York. It must be owned at the country level, by every head of state, every woman and every girl,” said Ms Machel.

Yet, the AIDS movement has effectively demonstrated that achieving the MDGs is possible: countries such as Botswana and Namibia are close to reaching the goal of virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV; and, twenty-two of the most affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa have reduced new HIV infections by more than 25%. Key steps have been taken to stop and reverse the spread of HIV by 2015, as MDG 6 reads.

Integration of the MDGs
According to Mr. Sidibé, it is clear that investing in one MDG will help achieve the others. “Where HIV is prevented, maternal mortality decreases. When a mother’s life is saved; a newborn’s life is usually saved. When girls are educated, poverty decreases.”

Mr Sidibé added that the AIDS response should be a bridge for joining health and development movements, such as maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health, and women’s rights. “For me, it is clear: no progress on the MDGs without integration,” he said.

Other speakers at the event included Fred Sai, Ghanaian Family Health Physician, Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, CEO of Vestergaard Frandsen SA, and Imane Khachani, of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Morocco.

After each speaker, the audience discussed in small groups the challenges and shared their views and strategies on how they can be met and the way forward. The results of the discussions will be posted on the Women Deliver website.

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