Executive Director’s blog


A high-level meeting in Botswana this week brought together governments, NGO coalitions, members of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and other key UN partners to build consensus on the role for health in the future sustainable development framework. In keeping with the spirit of this process and our own commitment to active partnership, PMNCH consulted with our membership to submit a position paper to the UN global consultation process on our vision for health in the post-2015 framework. We encourage all our members who have not yet done so to read and sign onto our summary statement by 20 March, so that we can include your support in our next submission to the UNSG High-Level Panel, which will be meeting later this month in Bali, Indonesia to focus on global partnerships before reconvening and presenting its findings in New York in May.

While participating in this process is important, we must be mindful not to fast-forward to 2015; there is still so much we can do to accelerate progress before the Millennium Development Goals deadline arrives.

Taking care of the unfinished business of the MDGs will mean focusing concerted energy on the following priorities, amongst other key issues:

  • Neonatal health;
  • Integrated care for preventing and treating pneumonia and diarrhea; and
  • Maternal deaths — an area which has been incredibly stubborn as it’s so closely bound up with gender norms.

One of the first deliveries I ever attended as a young midwife in the UK was a 13-year-old girl’s. I was completely shocked. I kept thinking she could be my little sister.

Over the course of my career, attending births around the world, I’ve since encountered so many other frightened young faces.

About 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 years and two million girls under the age of 15 give birth every year. In nine out of 10 cases in developing countries, where complications during pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death, the young mother is already married. This is a denial of her rights, a form of violence under a veil of legitimacy.

We’re highlighting this issue at the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women this week with a high-level panel sponsored by the Governments of Bangladesh, Malawi and Canada. The event will be streamed live from 2:30-4:30 pm ET on 7 March. To watch in real-time or view the archived webcast visit: webtv.un.org