It’s no doubt development drivers like the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) have played a gigantic role in setting the global agenda and galvanizing development efforts for nations. They have been used to address social issues that affect the well-being of the most vulnerable groups of people at the grassroots levels across the globe- making momentous strides for girls and women- such as the significant reduction in maternal deaths to almost half from 543,000 in 1990 to 287,000 in 2010, and the huge decline in newborn deaths from 4.4 million per year in 1990 to 2.9 million per year in 2010. Commendable progress has been made in other areas including poverty eradication, access to universal primary education, and combatting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
Nevertheless, challenges remain. A toolkit recently released by Women Deliver called Invest in Girls and Women, Everybody Wins reveals that 800 women still die every day during pregnancy or childbirth, and many cannot access basic health care. The unmet need for voluntary family planning has affected women’s full potential growth and development. This has resulted in 80 million unplanned pregnancies, 30 million unplanned births, and 40 million abortions every year. Other health issues like malnutrition, heart disease, and breast and cervical cancer continue to plague girls and women at alarming rates.
It’s obvious that more efforts need to be focused on investment in women and girls, because they play a pivotal role in the development process. As we review and re-frame development drivers for the post 2015 agenda, lets us not only reflect on the progress made so far,but also focus on a new development framework that prioritizes the rights, well-being and health of girls and women.
According to the toolkit, the approach of investing in girls and women would involve a ripple effect model that saves lives and improves health; strengthens national and global economies; builds a brighter future for communities; and develops a more sustainable world. Governments and civil societies, women and men, boys and girls- everyone must unite to ensure that girls and women’s rights, health and well-being are addressed on all levels for a brighter future and a better world.