New York – The UAE and Norway today convened top development and humanitarian actors to spearhead greater health services for women and children in humanitarian settings, under the Every Woman Every Child Everywhere initiative. Globally, over 50% of preventable deaths of mothers and children under the age of 5 occur in disaster and conflict situations. As part of the meeting, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and two summits on refugees and migrants, Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, also announced a new aid package to Yemen that will mainstream maternal and children’s health in emergency response.

“The statistics alone provide a moral imperative for action, but there is a longer-term rationale that we in the UAE know firsthand from our own national experience: healthy, educated, empowered women lead to healthy, educated, empowered societies,” said H.E. Reem Al Hashimy. “We are honored to work with Norway and the humanitarian and development communities on ensuring health services for women and children in all settings. A country or region will never get back on its feet when preventable deaths of children and their caregivers are a standard part of life.”

A coalition of around fifty of the largest and most innovative humanitarian and development organizations, the Everywhere initiative was launched in Abu Dhabi two years ago under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood. At its most recent meeting in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, the partners defined a minimum package of health services that should be provided to women and children in humanitarian settings and deployed simultaneously with education, energy, water and sanitation, and food, among other basic services. The initiative also works with development actors to plan for women and children when humanitarian situations arise, and promotes models where women are used as first-responders and equal decision-makers in humanitarian response. The initiative is co-chaired by Her Royal Highness Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan and Kate Gilmore, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Everywhere’s advocacy has broken new ground in terms of awareness, and we now need to ensure that reform happens on the programmatic level,” said H.E. Reem Al Hashimy. “The cooperation between Everywhere and the UAE in Yemen will provide concrete lessons on how humanitarian operations can be designed, executed, and evaluated for performance on women and children’s health.”

The UAE’s new humanitarian package for Yemen includes $10.8 million for health services through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). It complements Everywhere’s success in including humanitarian situations in the WHO-led Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, which is backed by the multi-billion dollar Global Financing Facility.

“The Everywhere initiative has made remarkable progress in such a short time since its launch in Abu Dhabi,” said Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations. “It identified a major gap in the architecture of humanitarian and development interventions, and we are already seeing a shift, with humanitarian situations and their prevention now becoming an explicit part of the UN global approach on health and women for the first time.”

Norway and the UAE announced that they would continue the work stream with a focus on the growing presence of female and child refugees in urban areas, linked to October’s UN summit on sustainable cities (Habitat III), and on climate impacts on women’s and children’s health, linked to the COP22 climate negotiations in November.

Speakers at the event included Elhadj As Sy, the Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC); David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC); Kevin Jenkins, President and CEO of World Vision; Kyung-wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General, UN OCHA; Sarah Fountain Smith, Canada’s Assistant Deputy Minister of Global Affairs; Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank; Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA); and Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General of WHO. 

Deputy Foreign Minister Tone Skogen represented Norway, one of the most prominent donors to international health and gender equality efforts. The UAE and Norway are consistently ranked among the top three most generous donors globally.