NEW YORK — Tents, high-profile addresses and protests might have taken the media’s center stage during the U.N. General Assembly this week, but participants at two meetings on the sidelines of the assembly committed themselves to ensuring the world’s women would no longer be sidelined themselves on health outcomes.
On Tuesday evening, the Global Health Council along with Susan G. Komen for the Cure hosted the ministers of health from Nigeria and Rwanda to engage in a discussion with high-level officials from the United States, United Kingdom, Norway, the private sector and civil society about how donors and recipient countries could work together to better ensure the ability of every woman in the world to live and thrive. The discussion was lively and informative – more details on this meeting to come in later posts.
This morning, some of the same high-level officials, jazzed up by the discussions the night before, once again joined Global Health Council President Jeffrey L. Sturchio – along with Vestergaard Frandsen, the African Medical Research Foundation and Women Deliver – to discuss community mobilization and building political will with first ladies from African countries. Ambassador Eric Goosby, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, and U.N. Population Fund Deputy Executive Director Purnima Mane facilitated a discussion with Sierra Leonean First Lady Sia Nyama Koroma, Zambian First Lady Thandiwe Banda, Lesotho First Lady Mathato Mosisili, and Ida Odinga, the wife of the Kenyan prime minister.
The first ladies spoke passionately about some of the issues facing women in their country – such as pressures from men and families not to insist on condom use – and spoke about projects they are engaged in ranging from fistula prevention to insurance programs in rural areas. Yvonne Chaka Chaka, the renowned South African musician, implored the first ladies to use the power of their positions to listen to what communities need and be strong advocates to ensure those needs are met.
Maternal health advocate Sarah Brown, the wife of the U.K. prime minister, and Bience Gawanas, the African Union’s Commissioner for Social Affairs, passionately spoke about their efforts through the new AU Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality (CARMMA), which was launched earlier this year. Gawanas urged the first ladies to use the same spirit and tactics they used when campaigning for their husbands to drive home the urgent need to address maternal mortality and other women’s health issues.
The private sector also chipped in with multiple offers of partnership and trainings. In addition to all the partnerships made, these two “sidelines” events at the assembly got the juices flowing and the conversations in the fast lane between and amongst global women’s health donors and recipients. This couldn’t come soon enough – as Mosisili’s women in developing countries needed champions “yesterday.” The Global Health Council looks forward to ensuring that the conversations here in New York turn into a healthier reality for women all over the world.
Let us know what you think – what can both donors and recipient countries do to improve health outcomes for women worldwide?