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World leaders this week met in New York to renew their commitment to the U.N. Millennium Development Goals for 2015. The rhetoric was promising, but unless donor nations rapidly ramp up their development assistance many of the MDGs will not be realized by 2015, including the MDG 5 “target” of providing all women with access to reproductive health services.
Ban Ki-moon, the U.N.’s Secretary General, unveiled this week a “Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health,” that contained pledges totaling over $40 billion in resources. The statement released by the Secretary General indicated that all women “must have access to family planning,” and asserted that the $40 billion in pledges would ensure, among other goals, that “43 million new users would have access to family planning” by 2015.
But with respect to family planning, Secretary of State Clinton made the most noteworthy pledge of the week. In brief remarks she talked about “a five-year public/private global alliance to contribute to the goal of reducing the unmet need for family planning by 100 million women, expand skilled birth attendance and facility-based deliveries, and increase the numbers of women and newborns receiving post-natal care by 2015.” The public/private alliance includes the U.S., Australia, the U.K., and the Gates Foundation.
Robert Walker, the Executive Vice President of the Population Institute, said “Full implementation of these two initiatives, the U.N.’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health and the public/private alliance referenced by Sec. Clinton, would move the world much closer to the goal of meeting the family planning and reproductive health needs of all women in the developing world. But if these pledges are to be realized, supporters of family planning, in developing and developed countries alike, will have to make their voices heard. These pledges give us momentum, but the momentum must be maintained.” Walker said that the Population Institute will work with other organizations to build a grassroots campaign in support of international family planning assistance.