Investing in women, children and youth today means thriving

Great strides have been made in reducing maternal and child mortality – with a 47% reduction in maternal mortality and a 49% reduction in child mortality since 1990 – demonstrating that change is possible. While there has been substantial progress, much remains to be done. As we transition from the MDGs to the SDGs, it is imperative to accelerate momentum for women and children, but also to protect the often fragile gains in some countries, as recently witnessed with the impact of Ebola and weakened health systems on maternal and child health.

Launched in September 2010 by the UN Secretary-General, the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health has contributed to significant progress worldwide for women’s and children’s survival and health. The Every Woman Every Child movement that grew out of the Global Strategy mobilized actors from all sectors to work towards shared goals. Strong progress has been made toward the vision to end all preventable maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent deaths within a generation but there is still unfinished business and new challenges that need to be addressed as we transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals agenda. 

An updated Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health will build on new evidence, including the need to focus on critical population groups such as newborns, adolescents and those living in fragile and conflict settings, build the resilience of health systems, improve the quality of health services and equity in their coverage, and work with health-enhancing sectors on issues such as women’s empowerment, education, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene.  It will align with the targets and indicators developed for the Sustainable Development Goals framework and outline opportunities for means of implementation, including innovative financing and the Global Financing Facility. To build the political support needed to develop and implement an updated Global Strategy, it will be essential to demonstrate how the Every Woman Every Child multi-stakeholder partnership and accountability models have contributed to accelerated progress for women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health. 

A Progress Report was launched in March 2015 that documented progress, lessons learned, and the added value of partnerships facilitated under the Global Strategy. It also looked at the unfinished business and set-up the rationale for an updated Global Strategy for the 2016-2030 period. The next Global Strategy will be launched at the UN General Assembly in September with a draft five-year implementation plan and will be proposed for formal endorsement at the World Health Assembly in May 2016.