Partners back joint strategies at an Every Woman Every Child Workshop

11 FEBRUARY 2014 | GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

More than 35 participants representing 28 organization including Government, UN Agencies and Civil Society gathered for a two-day Partner Strategy Workshop in Geneva organized by PMNCH and the UN Foundation. The meeting, in support of Every Woman Every Child sought to strengthen joint communications and advocacy for women’s and children’s health with a greater emphasis on harmonization and alignment.

Dr Elizabeth Mason, WHO, in her opening remarks called on participants to “reflect on where we are going as a community”, She stressed the importance of the need for joined-up action and finding a way to align all the different organizations’ efforts to create more power as a group. She advised that the plan the group devised at the end of the two-days, look at important timelines and moments and for key threads that link these moments. Every Woman Every Child she noted is the overall framework the community has in bringing all the fragmented pieces together

Dr Mason also spoke of the importance of messaging, ‘is it the message that is important or the impact’ was her question to the group She urged participants not to bypass 2015, as there is still more that can be accomplished, but to think about the messages up to then, while at the same time looking at sustainable action beyond. She ended her intervention with a question for the group to ponder on as they worked towards joint action and continuum in their efforts, ‘are we continuing from where we left off or starting afresh each time?’ she asked.

Helga Fogstad, Norad, in setting the theme for the meeting, echoed the Importance of pinpointing the key messages and orchestrating them. ‘We have the Global Strategy and Every Woman Every Child as a basis and it is key to understanding what is needed’, she said. She stressed the need to create excitement and urgency around the issues of women’s and children’s health and generate momentum to reach 2015. In closing, she tasked the group with a number of things- to create a consensus for RMNCH for 2015; design a way to spread it out to the different constituency groups; and move other sectors to create a bigger bang. ‘We have an opportunity to create serious music instead of noise.’

The workshop, which was divided into a series of breakout sessions and discussions, focused on three main themes for discussion and consensus building among partners:

  • Accelerating action for women’s and children’s health up to 2015;
  • Women’s and children’s health in the post-2015 landscape; and
  • The role and position of Every Woman Ever Child in both contexts.

At the end of the two -days, the workshop concluded with a number of critical decisions and consensus reached by the group:

Participants agreed on the need to enhance coordination and alignment of advocacy and communication actions to accelerate progress towards achieving MDGs 4&5. A concerted push from all organizations with harmonized messages was viewed as necessary to drive forward improvements in maternal and child health, to hold commitment-makers accountable for their commitments, and to begin to fill the gaps where progress has not been made. The group also agreed that both regional and country level involvement in the overall advocacy and communications objectives to support acceleration towards 2015 were necessary. However, more appropriate and creative mechanisms to give a voice and space to national and local representatives were deemed imperative to achieving this.

The place for RMNCH in the post-2015 landscape emerged as an important issue in the workshop one that raised the need for a resolute action to prepare the ground and lay the foundation for its integration in a landscape where the presentation of health specific goals has yet to be clearly defined. It was agreed that whatever the context, women’s and children’s health would continue to build on what has been achieved up to 2015 and the unfinished agenda for action.

Finally, Every Woman Every Child was perceived as an important platform for partner organizations for moving the Global Strategy forward. The accountability mechanism Every Woman Every Child brings to the global table, is perceived a s a highly innovative model. Participants agreed that Every Woman Every Child would need to be positioned for the post-2015 landscape by:

  • Clarifying its goals and establishing its vision and mission post-2015;
  • Framing what the unfinished business is and continuing to create harmonized messages to convey it;
  • Strengthening its role as a platform for leading action and results;
  • Mainstreaming its vision and mission into other organizations for broader ownership and action; and
  • Creating mechanisms to involve national level engagement.
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