Women Deliver 2013: Global agenda for women, girls’ health

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By Sola Ogundipe

Health issues concerning women and girls will be on the front burner in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as from May 28-30

Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the modern world, are set to place health issues concerning women and girls on the front burner as over 5,000 reproductive health experts, advocates, leaders in healthcare delivery and other stakeholders gather in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the landmark Women Deliver 2013 advocacy meeting to press for global action on maternal and reproductive health.

The meeting, 3rd in series, which officially opens May 28, 2013, at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center, aims to ensure that investments in girls and women remain a global priority in the lead-up to the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, MGDs deadline and beyond. Women Deliver 2013 generally hopes to build on past conferences and generate new political, financial and grassroots support for girls’ and women’s health and empowerment.

Participants aim to focus on the unmet need for family planning by building on the landmark July 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, where global leaders committed to provide contraceptive access to 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries by the year 2020.

The conference also aims to focus on critical issues related to women’s health and empowerment, the keynote theme entitled: “investing in women”, and the post-2015 development framework.

Among special speakers expected at the conference are Melinda Gates, Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation;  Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General & Executive Director of United Nations Women and  Helen Clark, Administrator, UNDP.

Others are  Michel Sidibé, Executive Director, UNAIDS, Professor Babatunde  Osotimehin, Executive Director, UNFPA, Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway and Dr. Hans Rosling, Professor of International Health, Karolinska Institute; Co-founder & Chairman, Gapminder Foundation.

In a statement, former Nigerian Health Minister and current UNFPA Executive Director, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin noted: “Women Deliver 2013 offers an unprecedented opportunity to build on the tremendous momentum generated last year around reproductive health, especially during the London Summit on Family Planning.

“Access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, age appropriate sexuality education, information and services and skilled and motivated care givers help ensure that all women and girls have the power to shape their futures,” he concluded.

Women Deliver Founder and President Jill Sheffield stated: “With the MDG target date just around the corner, the time is now for us to ensure that girls and women are central pillars in the new development agenda.

“We have made incredible strides toward improving women’s health and rights in recent years, and we cannot stop now. Women Deliver 2013 will offer a powerful forum for ensuring that we continue to deliver for girls and women for years to come.”

More than 70 journalists from around the world have already registered to attend the meeting, even as more are expected. Already, a select group of high-level editors and senior reporters will also be invited to attend a half-day media forum to discuss the challenges of covering women’s health and empowerment issues and ways to incorporate these topics into broader sustainable development coverage.

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