Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health

CSW Side Event: Keeping Promises, Measuring Results

A side event “Keeping Promises, Measuring Results: Enhancing Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health” took place during the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to support efforts of the Every Woman Every Child initiative. The event was hosted by the Government of Canada, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), and the United Nations Foundation.

The event articulated the links between this year’s CSW theme – the empowerment of rural women – and the goals of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, and outlined the effort’s robust accountability framework and important role of stakeholders.

Key speakers included H.E. Guillermo E. Rishchynski, Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN, Dr Purnima Mane, President and CEO, Pathfinder International, Ms Rebecca Affolder, Adviser, Global Health Policy and Coordination, Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr Carmen Barroso, Regional Director, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Western Hemisphere Region, and independent Expert Review Group member, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, Speaker of Parliament, Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.

They discussed ongoing efforts to enhance accountability for women’s and children’s health. Dialogue focused on the role of stakeholders, including parliamentarians and civil society, in global, regional and national accountability processes.

Dr Carmen Barroso represented the iERG at the side event. She described the accountability framework, and explained that the iERG will monitor the implementation of the Accountability Commission’s recommendations and submit its first report in September 2012. She provided examples of mechanisms already in place in Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where web-based reporting systems and alignment of national health plans, respectively, will help facilitate accountability. To ensure the highest levels of commitment to implementing the Global Strategy, the iERG has issued a call for evidence from all stakeholders to generate information on vulnerable and hard to reach groups including refugees, displaced populations, people living in occupied territories, young women and women seeking access to safe abortion.

Some interventions and messages from the audience were particularly relevant for the work of the iERG:

  • keeping human rights prominent in the accountability framework;
  • enlisting civil society to demand accountability from local governments so that the Commission’s recommendations are taken up at the decentralized level that government now have;
  • putting human resources development as a critical element for delivery of results;
  • considering youth meaningful involvements in the national accountability mechanisms;
  • capitalizing on the indicators that are already part of the MDGs;
  • focusing on disaggregating data to capture inequalities;
  • going beyond plans and policies and providing resources for implementation.

The side event was marked by a high level of attendance and by active participation of the audience. This bodes well for the purpose of mobilizing a broad range of constituencies and for keeping the momentum around accountability high. It is equally important for keeping health in particular and the social pillar in general as key elements of a sustainable future.