Back 22 September 2015

The 70th UNGA - September 2015

Each year in September, world leaders converge on New York for the United Nations General Assembly, where key global issues are discussed and resolutions agreed.  With 150 Heads of State in town there is heightened security, hectic and congested roads.

This is the Assembly where, in 2000, global leaders agreed to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were to be achieved with a 15 year timeframe. We know that of the 8 MDGs, which focused on poverty, education, hunger, the environment and health - three were health-related. MDG 4 to Reduce child mortality (children, newborn, stillbirths), MDG 5 Improve maternal health (reduce maternal mortality, universal access to reproductive health) were the major concern of midwives and MDG 6 to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

As 2015 draw to a close we see the end of the MDGs and the introduction, in 2016, of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which will be adopted at the UNGA. These SDGs will take a broader, transformative view across the themes of Dignity, People, Planet, Partnership, Prosperity and Justice.  

UNGA is also a whirlwind of side events, meetings and receptions hosted by a range of stakeholders: governments, companies, organisations, foundations, CSOs some of which are ICM partners. It is a huge opportunity for networking, for sharing and for influencing policy makers. ICM is a regular attender and this year is particularly important.

Voice, Visibility and Value of midwives

On its 70th anniversary the United Nations Summit is poised to adopt the post-2015 development agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals and Pope Francis will address to the UNGA immediately ahead of the official opening of the UN Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. 

Although all 17 SDGs are important to midwifery, two key SDGs are No. 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages (the health SDG) and gender focused No. 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Another key document to be launched is the updated Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health (GS2), that builds on the UN Secretary-General’s 2010-2015 strategy. Developed by the Every Woman Every Child movement, with broad stakeholder engagement, it aims to improve the health and well-being women, children, and adolescents by 2030 and will support the relevant SDGs.

GS2 addresses the survival and health of women, children but also:

-        Adolescent (health) issues such as early marriage, gender-based violence, FGM, lack of access to education, adolescent-friendly services

-        Environmental health challenges such as lack of water and sanitation, climate change, indoor air pollution

-        Fragile states and humanitarian situations, natural disasters, forcibly displaced persons

Linking across all the SDGs the strategy focuses on three themes: survive, thrive and transform.

Survive: end preventable deaths (with targets such as): MMR of 70/100,000 LB by 2030, NMR of 12/1000 LB, U5MR of 25/1000 LB)

Thrive: ensure health and wellbeing to: Improve nutrition, Ensure universal access to SRH services, ensure access to good quality early childhood development, reduce pollution-related deaths and achieve Universal Health Coverage.

Transform - expand enabling environments by actions to: Eradicate extreme poverty, Ensure access to primary and secondary education, Eliminate all harmful practices, discrimination and violence against girls and women, Ensure universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene, Enhance scientific research, technological capacities and innovation, Ensure Legal identity for all and Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development.

Although there is only one health-related SDG, in combination with GS2, the opportunities for midwives and midwifery are there to be seized.

The Every Woman Every Child movement will host an event to highlight commitments from governments, the UN, civil society.  ICM has submitted an individual commitment and, as a Board Member of the PMNCH, submitted a joint commitment with FIGO and IPA.

ICM, is also co-hosting a session ‘Walking together for Women & Children: Forging New Paths for Government, Civil Society and private Sector partnerships with J&J, The MDG Health Alliance and Save the Children. I will join the panelist and as will the ICM Global Ambassador Her Excellency Toyin Saraki.

Between the 22nd to 28th September Dorothea Lang, ICM’s representative to the UN in NY and I will be attending as many events as possible.

Frances Day-Stirk, 22 September 2015

Watch UNGA events live or catch up online via UN Live TV 

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