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Deputy Secretary-General Hails Robust ‘Every Woman, Every Child’ Strategy, Welcomes Women’s Champion Michelle Bachelet at Memorial Lecture

Following are UN Deputy Secretary‑General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the fourteenth Rafael M. Salas Memorial Lecture, in New York today:

On behalf of Secretary-General António Guterres, it is my pleasure to welcome you to today’s Rafael M. Salas Memorial Lecture.  This lecture series is a fitting memorial to the first Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).  Rafael M. Salas guided UNFPA though its first two decades of existence.  He was a pioneer who not only shaped UNFPA, but also a deeper understanding of population and development.

This understanding took root through the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development.  Twenty-four years ago, in Cairo, leaders from around the world came together to transform our approach to population and development at every level.  They recognized population and development as a way to fulfil the sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights of all people, and to ensure the centrality of health and rights to sustainable development.

This Programme of Action has led to improved health and better lives for many around the world, particularly women and girls.  We also see the Programme of Action reflected in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which fittingly highlights the intersection between better health and well-being, and gender equality and women’s empowerment to achieve more prosperous, sustainable, inclusive and resilient societies.

And we see it in the topic of this year’s Salas Lecture:  the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030) for Every Woman, Every Child.  As a flagship Secretary-General-led initiative, Every Women Every Child is a catalytic multi-stakeholder platform that places women, children and adolescents at the centre of the development agenda to deliver on the promises of the Sustainable Development Goals — particularly their ambition to leave no one behind.

I was very pleased to play a part in the development and launch of this robust strategy during the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in 2015.  Its three objectives — survive, thrive and transform — underpin the Goals and are a profound expression of the ambition of the Programme of Action.  The Global Strategy also provides a road map for country-level implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, through the lens of women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and well‑being.  It recognizes that people do not live in silos and health does not exist in a vacuum, calling for greater collaboration across sectors.

A global champion for women and girls, today’s speaker, Michelle Bachelet, is helping us to do just that.  As Co-Chair of the High-Level Steering Group for Every Woman, Every Child, Ms. Bachelet launched Every Woman, Every Child Latin America and the Caribbean, the first platform for tailored, regional implementation of the Global Strategy.

As president of Chile, Ms. Bachelet worked tirelessly to further women’s rights in her country.  She passed protections for victims of domestic violence, fought workplace discrimination, reformed the pension system to be fairer to women, gave low-income mothers better access to childcare and introduced universal access to emergency contraception.

After a short break from politics — albeit to serve as the first Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) — Ms. Bachelet returned to office.  During her second term, she created the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality and passed legislation to improve women’s participation in politics.  And in 2017, the Constitutional Court of Chile ruled in favour of a reproductive rights bill introduced by President Bachelet.

Along the way, she has broken many glass ceilings herself, having been the first woman to serve as Minister for Defence in the Americas and the first female President of Chile.  Madame President, welcome back.  Welcome home.  I thank you and look forward to an engaging and stimulating Rafael M. Salas Memorial Lecture.

For information media. Not an official record.