The White Ribbon Alliance holding Governments to Account to promises for Women and Children
As we prepare for a big day at the United Nations General Assembly this afternoon I have been lucky enough to spend some time with WRA staff and National Alliance representatives in New York, to reflect on what the White Ribbon Alliance has achieved in the year since over $40 Billion was pledged as part of the Every Women Every Child Initiative at the UN in September 2010.
As a civil society organisation we appreciate the Every Woman Every Child Initiative’s "bold, coordinated efforts to enhance financing, strengthen policy, and improve service delivery to save the lives of woman and children" and welcome the fact that global leaders increasingly recognize that the health of women and children is the key to progress on all development goals.
On behalf of our members in 153 countries the White Ribbon Alliance pledged to:
- Commit to the global strategy by engaging local, national, regional and global organizations and individuals to ensure that MNCH is a priority issue for all governments; and to
- To hold government accountable commitments through 2015
This was a commitment that recognised the strength and expertise of our members who have been speaking out and taking action since the White Ribbon Alliance began in 1999 and it’s no surprise that this momentum has continued as we continue to grow and increase our capacity to influence.
The activities we have been involved in the past year have included.
Featuring Every Woman Every Child as our Action of the Month for May where we encouraged our members to write to their health ministers attending the World Health Assembly in May and in September where we are encouraging our members to share their stories and blogs on how they are working to hold governments to account.
Working in partnership with other Civil Society organisations on accountability efforts, including making recommendations to the seminal report from the Commission for Information and Accountability for Women and Children’s Health.
Campaigning for 3.5 million more health workers, including 350,000 midwives and 1 million community health workers, better equipped and supported something we see as crucial to underpinning the objectives of the Global Strategy – saving 16 million lives in the world’s 49 countries.
There have also been a number of inspiring national campaigns, directly monitoring country Governments holding them to account.
In Tanzania the WRA mobilised partner organizations to write a joint letter to President Kikwete letting him know that civil society would be closely monitoring the Government’s Commitment to increase the budget and improve the recruitment and retention of midwives. They used the platform of annual white ribbon to prepare a statement for the Prime Minister to read which included the commitment to Every Woman Every Child and continued to engage with President Kikwete through his leadership role as co-chair on the Commission of Information and Accountability.
In Nigeria the WRA have been working with UNFPA and other member organisations to set up a Score Card Development Committee who have developed success indicators to track government commitments to women and children. Moving forward this group will continue to meet regularly and share their findings with decision makers and the people of Nigeria. The alliance have also tirelessly campaigned for the President to sign the National Health Bill guaranteeing Nigerian mother, newborns and children quality and efficient health care which had previously been on the floor of parliament for the past 7 years.
In Uganda the WRA have been pushing the Presidency to make a commitment to Every Woman Every Child in line with commitments already made in Uganda to the National Health Plan. This has included working with the First Lady and WHO to champion the issue and most recently WRA Uganda collaborated with other civil society organisations to petition parliamentarians urging them to use their capacity to demand action from the Ministry of Health and the Presidency in New York next week. I join WRA Uganda in hoping for a positive result.
I appreciate this blog only captures a selection of the what has been happening and wanted to use this opportunity to encourage members who have other stories to take part in our action of the month and send your blogs and photos on how you’ve been holding your Government’s to account. More information here
Moving towards 2015 the White Ribbon Alliance will continue to honour our commitments to the global strategy inspiring action from the grassroots to the global level, holding government to account. If we continue to work together we can ensure that a safe and health pregnancy becomes a reality for every woman and every newborn in every part of the world.
Here’s to another great year of action!