Let me begin by thanking our partners Norway and OCHA for providing their support in organizing today’s briefing. The last several years have seen a step-change in the way we value women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health, now recognizing it as a cornerstone of stable and prosperous societies. We are especially pleased that Every Woman Every Child and its Global Strategy have become such rallying points for both public and private stakeholders, driving international and national action to end all preventable deaths of women, children and adolescents by 2030.
But there is an alarming reality about where these preventable deaths occur – and one that we as partners believe constitutes a call for action, especially on the eve of the World Humanitarian Summit. It is estimated that 60% of preventable maternal deaths and 53% of preventable child deaths occur in settings of conflict, displacement, and natural disasters. This is the “Everywhere” component of Every Woman Every Child – the response to ensure that we are reaching women and children in all settings, even when access is extremely challenging and governments are not functioning.
The UAE is committed to advancing this “everywhere” platform. Last year, spearheaded by our first lady, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the UAE hosted a meeting of development and humanitarian experts in maternal and child health in Abu Dhabi to engage the Everywhere global movement.
This unprecedented gathering produced the Abu Dhabi Declaration in January of 2015, which generated momentum for the renewed Global Strategy to add focus on the “everywhere” component –to broaden and strengthen this initiative and leave no one behind.
The Abu Dhabi Declaration helped ensure not only that gender is a key consideration in responses to humanitarian emergencies, but also that humanitarian settings are a key consideration in strategies for the advancement of gender equality. As we know, crises deepen existing gender inequalities, marginalization, and exclusion. Yet, women and young people are often both the first responders to crises and the leading innovators of sustainable solutions in crises.
We continued to build on this platform last month, when experts from the humanitarian, development, “water, sanitation and hygiene” (WASH), and health sectors gathered in Abu Dhabi once again to develop five-year targets and an implementation plan for the Global Strategy, focusing on reaching all women, children and adolescents, in all settings. Let me share three key messages with you from this meeting:
- First, investing in the health and well-being of women and children in humanitarian settings is central to the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is not just the right thing to do. Women are force multipliers for achieving the SDGs. The data shows that empowering women unlocks untapped potential and spurs growth that will benefit all members of the community.
- Second, Women and young people are front-line responders in humanitarian settings and fragile contexts. They are key for the survival and wellbeing of children, families and communities, prioritizing their needs. We must put money and authority directly in their hands.
- In order to create a more prosperous, sustainable future, we must ensure the survival, health and well-being of women, children and adolescents now, so that this generation can thrive and help transform the world.
My hope is that today’s briefing will provide a clear context for the Global Strategy in advance of the World Humanitarian Summit. I highlight too that the UAE will host a small breakfast for ministers and executives in Istanbul on the 24th, in order to review the strategy and launch an annual review process to keep it dynamic and adaptable. While the Summit is just one milestone for Every Woman Every Child Everywhere, there could not be a better time to underscore that if we are serious about achieving the SDGs and the Agenda for Humanity, we must reach everyone, in all settings, everywhere.