14 March 2017

UN DSG, Ms. Amina J. Mohammed—Message On Every Woman Every Child: “Empowering Women, Families And Communities For Health And Well-Being And Sustainable Development For All”

By Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General

New York | 14 March 2017
The Sustainable Development Goals are a blueprint for peace, prosperity, inclusivity and resilience for all.  The health and well-being of women, girls and adolescents are indispensable for their success.


Healthy, educated and empowered women and girls can drive the transformation we need for a better future for all.  As they exercise their rights, raise their voices and help their societies thrive, they can – and will – build lasting peace.


Our job – as women and as an international community – is to ensure that women and girls can achieve their full potential –socially, culturally, economically and politically.  There is still a long way to go, and the clock is ticking on the count-down to 2030 and the goal of Planet 50-50.


Violence and discrimination affect the lives of women and girls on all continents, in all countries.  Inequality limits their access to health, education and employment systems.  This is not just damaging to women and girls, but to societies at large.  This lost opportunity is an injustice to us all – women and men alike.


Empowered women and girls are less likely to suffer domestic violence, exploitation or abuse.  They tend to have fewer children, better access to services and more control over resources.  Because they can make more informed decisions about their health and well-being, their children are more likely to survive and thrive.  They will receive better child-care, access to education and other services and opportunities.  And when more women work, economies grow faster and stronger.


In short, healthy, thriving women and girls create a virtuous cycle that benefits families, communities and nations.  That is why women’s empowerment must be integrated across all sectors – in poverty reduction, democratic governance, peacebuilding, crisis prevention and recovery, environmental care and sustainable development.  And it is why, to achieve the inclusive, impactful change envisioned by the SDGs, we must invest in policies and programmes that uphold women’s rights and fight injustice and inequity.


I stand for a world in which every woman and girl, everywhere, has the information and services she needs — a world where she is supported, listened to and included.  A fundamental foundation for this world is access to quality health care.


Every Woman Every Child has worked effectively with partners around the globe to realize this vision.   The movement is working to foster the pivotal role of women and adolescents, particularly girls, as key drivers of resilience and change.  This is a key component of the updated Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.


Young people have a tremendous potential.  But, too often, this is untapped, undervalued and undermined.  I have seen the efforts of Every Woman Every Child to change this situation as Nigeria’s Minister of Environment and in my many travels with the United Nations.


I will always remember visiting a youth-friendly service in the outskirts of Delhi and seeing how these safe spaces were helping young girls have greater aspirations to go to school and access the services they need so they could decide if and when they wanted to have children.


Sexual and reproductive health are essential to healthier, more educated individuals and more egalitarian societies.  That is why we must honour the pledges made more than two decades ago at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, and reiterated during the World Conference on Women, in Beijing.


Let’s implement the global consensus that places individual dignity and women’s rights at the very heart of development.  Basic human rights such as access to information, health, education and land cannot be by-passed anymore.  These are women’s rights, because women’s rights are human rights.


Women, girls and adolescents around the world have the right to be respected, protected and nurtured.  They have the right to thrive.  Our job, as activists, as UN organizations and as governments is to deliver these rights.


Development is not sustainable if it is unequal.  Peace is not sustainable without justice.  Let us commit today and every day to work for the well-being and empowerment of women, girls and adolescents everywhere.