World

Action, not empty promises,
needed

Despite tremendous momentum for health and empowerment women worldwide, many countries, particularly developing countries, are yet to show their commitment and implement policies and programs.

Laksmi Puri acting director of United Nations Women said during the plenary session of the third Women Deliver conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Tuesday that governments only commitment was through documents.

“We want to see the implementation of real actions to ensure wide access to education and healthcare for girls, access to family planning services, capital and employment for women. These are basic human rights,” she insisted.

It is high time for all stakeholders — governments, private sectors, civil society — to take concrete action to address the discrimination of girls and women and deal with the root causes of poverty and traditional practices that affected girls and women all over the world.

The three-day conference, from May 28 through May 30, was officially opened by the newly reelected Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

“Malaysia prioritized women and girls in every development program. We allocated huge investments to improve healthcare and education for women and girls,” the prime minister said in his opening speech.

Malaysia has the lowest rate of maternal mortality with only 29 per 100,000 births. Another good indicator is girls make up 65 percent of university students.

“We view women as a strategic partner in the development of the country as they represent 48.6
percent of Malaysia’s population.

“The combination of commitment, strong political will and a huge investment in health and education is the key success to Malaysia,” he said.

More than 3,000 world leaders, policy-makers and advocates representing over 150 countries convene in Kuala Lumpur for Women Deliver 2013, the decade’s largest meeting focused on girls’ and women’s health and rights.

The conference will feature more than 200 sessions with talks by some of the world’s leading experts on girls’ and women’s issues, including Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and Chelsea Clinton, Board member of the Clinton Foundation.

Jill Sheffield, president and founder of Women Deliver, stated the conference would galvanize action and accelerate progress to meet the goals of improving the lives of girls and women.

“The conference will also examine how investment in women and girls would set off a domino effect of positive outcomes.”

Meanwhile, Jenny Klugman, director of gender and development at the World Bank, insisted that investment in women and girls health and education is the highest return investment any country can make.

Women Deliver 2013 takes place at a critical time, just days before the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will receive recommendations for the post-2015 development framework. Conference speakers and attendees will call for action to ensure that girls and women are prioritized in the lead-up to the 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) deadline and beyond.

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