Measuring Progress, Planning for Success: A Look Back at 2014

2014 was, in many ways, a good year for those advocating for the health, rights and wellbeing of girls and women. We saw continued momentum to ensure girls and women are prioritized in the post-2015 agenda, and an inclusion of human rights and involvement of young people in the Secretary General's draft report on the Sustainable Development Goals. However, we also saw opponents chipping away on sexual and reproductive health and rights around the world, and it is clear that there is still much work to be done.

In May 2016, we will have an opportunity to further develop our strategies to face the challenges that remain for girls and women around the world at the Women Deliver 2016 Conference in Copenhagen. As we plan for the future, let us take a moment reflect on the many accomplishments and hard work that’s occurred over the past twelve months:

Women’s Rights as Human Rights, The Battle Wages On: Two weeks of tough negotiations resulted in strong language around sexual and reproductive health in the outcome document at the 2014 UN Commission on the Status of Women in March 2014. With the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set to expire at the end of 2015, the Commission recognized that although the MDGs have advanced progress in some areas, the goals that focus on the health and well-being of girls and women, particularly surrounding maternal and sexual and reproductive health, have made the least the progress.

Women Deliver Awards Seeds Grants to Young Leaders: In celebration of International Women’s Day in March, Women Deliver was delighted to award seed grants of $5,000 eachto 10 young leaders to support projects aimed at advancing girls’ and women’s health and rights in their communities.

Funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global, the projects have already resulted in positive actions and community collaborations across the world from Tanzania, to Bangladesh, to Mexico.

The projects were highly diverse and tailored to the country context. Efforts included eradicating child marriage, reducing the transmission of HIV/AIDS among commercial sex workers, creating peer education platforms for youth-friendly sexual health information, and expanding services targeted at the unique challenges faced  by adolescent mothers.

WD Launches New Toolkit During CSW: The Commission on the Status of Women was held in March and placed particular emphasis on the sexual and reproductive health of girls and women, expressing concern over the “significant gaps in funding that remain and the magnitude of unmet need for all sexual and reproductive health care services. Women Deliver developed a toolkit that presents specific asks and goals related to maternal and newborn health, family planning and reproductive health, women's health, education, and equality, with the aim of providing global partners with a clear course of action to best advocate for the health and well-being of girls and women

Increased Global Support for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Gender Equality, and Youth Participation: This year we saw two international conferences focused on advancements in sexual and reproductive health, gender equality, and youth participation.  The 47th session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) met at UN Headquarters in New York in April, calling for the promotion and advancement of gender equality, young people’s participation, and sexual and reproductive health in the next set of development goals. The Commission called on governments to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of girls and women, including their reproductive health and rights, and underscored the negative impact of pervasive gender-based violence on the ability of women and girls to benefit from development.

With the same focus, the 6th International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (IPCI) was held in April in Stockholm, and reaffirmed the strong consensus among global parliamentarians about the importance of positioning population and development issues at the heart of the international development agenda. A forward-looking and action-oriented declaration called the? “Stockholm Statement of Commitment” was developed, under which parliamentarians unanimously advocated for the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights, human rights, youth participation, and gender equality.

Estimates on Global Maternal Death Rates Indicate a Decline: The World Health Organization, UNFPA, UNICEF, and the World Bank released Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2013 in May with the welcome news that global maternal mortality rates had declined 45 percent since 1990.  According to the report, there were an estimated 289,000 maternal deaths in 2013. According to their experts, the two countries that accounted or one third of all global maternal deaths are India at 17% (50,000) and Nigeria at 14% (40,000).

Momentum Grows for Women’s Rights at the United Nations General Assembly: Undeniable and encouraging momentum for ensuring that the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women are prioritized within the post-2015 framework was evident at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September. Women Deliver participated in more than 50 events, and shared the message loud and clear that when we invest in girls and women, everybody wins!

#MDG456Live was an amazing event currated to share coverage of women and children during the UN General Assembly in September. Women Deliver and partners GirlsGlobe, FHI 360 and Johnson & Johnson, all in support of Every Woman Every Child, held a high-level launch event of the #MDG456 Live campaign. Through a website hub and Daily Delivery emails, the #MDG456Live team worked tirelessly all week to curate content, via blogs, reports, tweets, and multimedia platforms, on women and children, the Millennium Development Goals, and the post-2015 development framework. Overall, the#MDG456Live hashtag reached over 10 million people through nearly 15,000 tweets from 3,600 contributors.

Young people embraced the message of “Nothing About Us, Without Us” with passion and commitment at the UN General Assembly. Advocates have been saying this for years - that truly meaningful youth participation is often sadly overlooked while policies that will determine young people’s futures are developed.

Copenhagen Announced as the Official Location of the Women Deliver 2016 Global Conference: Women Deliver and the Danish Minister for Trade and Development Corporation, Mogens Jensen, announced that the next Women Deliver global conference will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in May 2016. The announcement was made at the Invest in Girls and Women – Everybody Wins event held at the Danish Parliament, where Denmark’s new Strategic Framework for Gender Equality, Rights and Diversity was also launched. The conference – the fourth triennial global meeting – will be the largest gathering on girls’ and women’s health and rights in the last decade and the first large global conference on these issues following the launch of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

WD Young Leaders Spread the Message through to Social Media: As UNICEF’s The State of the World’s Children: Reimagining the Future celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in November, Women Deliver proudly shared the heartfelt stories of some of our Young Leaders who are taking action to end violence against girls and women around the world as part of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.  Women Deliver joined the annual global call to action through a strong social media campaign to end all forms of violence against women, while CEO Katja Iversen took this opportunity to appeal to world leaders and policymakers to make the safety of girls at school a priority in her article for Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Committing to the Livelihood of Girls in Post-2015: As the year ended, the sexual and reproductive rights of women were again center stage at the United Nations. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon released his synthesis report on the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the road ahead for development efforts in the post-2015 era. It was a call to action to leave no one behind, specifically mentioning young people, but unfortunately did not prioritize sexual and reproductive rights for girls and women in the post-2015 world.

The reproductive rights of women were in the international news in December, as well when FP2020 made the happy announcement that three additional African nations joined their partnership. Burundi, Cameroon, and Togo made commitments that will enable more women to decide, freely and for themselves, whether and when to have children. Joining the global effort to expand voluntary access, the new additions increased the total number of focus countries making pledges to FP2020 to 32. Further commitments to support the achievement of FP2020’s goal through funding and programming were made by The Brush Foundation and EngenderHealth.

Gender equality was also highlighted in the waning weeks of the year as The Lancet published a special series on violence against women and girls to highlight the devastating impact of gender-based violence on the world. The focus was on how violence can be best prevented. Comments were presented by The Lancet’s Udani Samarasekera and Richard Horton, former US President Jimmy Carter, and World Health Organization (WHO) Director of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research Marleen Temmerman. President Carter issued a strong call for an end to patriarchy through the leadership of political and religious leaders.

Engaging Private Sector to Improve Access to Family Planning Services: Katja Iversen travelled to Oss, Netherlands where she participated in the unveiling of Merck & Co. Inc.’s (known as MSD outside the United States) new, state-of-the-art production plant. The plant will provide 10 million contraceptive implants annually for use in developing countries in Asia and Africa.

Women Deliver and partners particpated in World Contraception Day in September, marking the 20th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development in Beijing, which called for universal access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care and services. It also marked the final year before the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. As the international development community begins to review and reframe its objectives, Women Deliver continued to push for a renewed emphasis on the benefits of sexual and reproductive health and rights, including voluntary family planning and the urgent need for expanded investment in it, in the post-2015 agenda.

Contraception is a vital part of the sexual and reproductive rights of girls and women. It’s a powerful tool that should be wielded much more strongly in order to spur development, enhance global security, and let girls and women live the full lives they want and deserve.

New Reports Focus the World’s Attention to Progress and Challenges for Girls and Women: While UNFPA’s A State of the World’s Midwifery 2014 revealed encouraging information that maternal death has been dropped by almost half and child death by 41 percent since 1990, accessibility remains an ongoing worldwide challenge. In the 73 countries analyzed, maternal death was reduced by 3 percent per year and newborn death by 1.9 percent per year.  

Save the Children’s report, State of the World’s Mothers 2014, shows once again the disheartening disparity between mothers in rich and poor countries. Not surprisingly, most of the countries with the poorest infrastructure for maternal support have histories of armed conflict and recurring natural disasters.

The Guttmacher Institute’s Adding It Up report emphasized that sexual and reproductive health services fall far below the needs in developing countries. The report estimates that an expenditure of only $25 per person would enable 225 million women to meet their current unmet needs for contraception.

2014 was truly an exciting year, and we cannot wait to continue our work to ensure that girls and women are at the heart of development efforts in 2015 and continue to spread the message that when you invest in girls, everybody wins!

Entry Comments

  1. There are no comments for this entry yet.

Speak Up!
  Remember me next time.
Notify me of follow-up comments.