White Ribbon Alliance: Making Leaders Stand by Their Commitments for Women

This post originally appeared on the Girls’ Globe website here. Reposted with permission.

By Julia Wiklander, Girls’ Globe

There are 828 days left until the Millennium Development Goals should be realized. This week, the United Nations, heads of state, political leaders, NGOs, activists, companies and entrepreneurs are getting together to discuss the progress and what we need to prioritize in the post-2015 agenda.

The international community and national governments have made commitments to improve the health status of women and girls around the world, through universal access to maternal and reproductive health services. However, commitments are not enough in themselves, there needs to be a dramatic change in governance and social norms, in the empowerment of women and girls on a local (and household) level, as well as, an accountability of the promises that have been made.

The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood is a global network of maternal health advocates, who are holding governments and politicians accountable for their commitments and advocating for sustainable policies and more resources to prevent maternal deaths.

The White Ribbon Alliance stand for accountability and voice.

There are 35 million women of childbearing age in Nigeria. These women have voices, they know what needs to be done. They know that we must focus our investment on women and children to protect the future.

– Dr. Philippa Momah, Nigeria

White Ribbon Alliance understands that we cannot improve the health of women and girls by commitments alone. Women and girls must be empowered and given the opportunity to voice their opinions and hold governments, health centers, and community leaders accountable. In Nigeria, as in other countries, White Ribbon Alliance connects the government and the citizens, creating a coalition of committted individuals who want to see a change in the maternal mortality status of the country. This coalition is bridging the accountability gap, as well as the knowledge gap – ensuring that the government acts, and that the women know about it.

In Malawi, the White Ribbon Alliance is supporting initiatives to train midwives at rural centres, and improving the status of midwives through highlighting stories in the media. In India, they work with mobile technology to connect mothers to care. In Tanzania, they are equipping health workers to provide emergency obstetric care in remote areas. What all of these initiatives have in common is the citizen’s voice and their ability to connect with all levels of government to ensure accountability, and that their right to quality and respectful healthcare is provided.

If we let women lead in the fight for their health, the fight against maternal deaths, we will see a dramatic change in the post-2015 agenda.