CanWaCH was on the ground in New Delhi, India for the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) Partners’ Forum.
The Canadian High Commission hosted an event for SheDecides India in partnership with the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH) and CREA, the local host of SheDecides India. The event celebrated the conclusion of the PMNCH Partners Forum that brought together 1200 leaders for a week of focused on putting “Partnership into Practice”. It was an exciting opportunity to demonstrate how political and social momentum is coming together globally, and in India to promote the rights of girls and women to decide about our bodies.
The crowd was entertained by Feminist Jazz musician Shreya Ray, stand up comedian and disability activist Nidhi Goyal, and Ankita a local spoken word artist who performed original work as well as the SheDecides manifesto.
This event was a strong display of Canadian leadership and solidarity with remarks from our Acting Executive Director Julia Anderson, Karlee Silver from Grand Challenges Canada and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, Kamal Khera. They welcomed many global friends including SheDecides Chairperson Tikhala Itaye and the Presidents of FIGO: Dr Carlos Fuentes, the Population Council: Julia Bunting, and Women Deliver: Katja Iversen, as well as Patrick Mwesigye from UYAHF. #LeadOnCanada
Plenary Session 3 on Accountability for Action
Kul Chandra Gautam, a former senior official of the United Nations, kicked off day two of the Partners' Forum in Plenary Session 3 on Accountability for Action. He stressed the fact that accountability is what keeps the SDGs and other global targets from being 'ever set and never met'.
Leaving no one behind: Current evidence, gaps and innovations
Our Director of Global Health Impact, Jessica Ferne, discussed data and accountability when scaling up support through the Canada NGOs consortium on the panel. There was a lot of interest in the Canadian Collaborative for Global Health and Canada's approach to innovation in monitoring and evaluation. It was a pleasure for CanWaCH to be highlighted alongside Julia Bunting from the Population Council (US) as well as others from India, Kenya and other places around the world.
Mobile Creche Site-Vist
CanWaCH's Julia Anderson visited Mobile Creche, a Grand Challenges Canada funded-project, with Kamal Khera, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development. This fifty-year-old NGO works to provide high-quality care to children in transient migrant worker communities. Often set up on construction sites, safe childcare is a game changer for women in these communities. The important health aspect is that the centres provide:
- An environment for healthy brain development in critical formative years
- Regular health and nutrition testing to WHO standards with intervention packages when children are falling below the standard
- Families are equipped with the necessary knowledge to ensure their children are healthy and this information stays with them, even when they move onto the next work site
Grand Challenges Canada is investing in scaling up the project to cover additional marginalized communities.
Mobile Creche also negotiates with site supervisors where women work to ensure breaks for breastfeeding babies which encourages exclusive breastfeeding up to six months old. This health interlocutor role is a game changer to amplify the needs and voices of women who are precariously balancing economic realities and the needs of their children.
The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) Partners’ Forum is officially underway! PMNCH has brought together 1,200 partners dedicated to the Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) movement and the achievement of the UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (Global Strategy). This year, the Partners' Forum is centring on improving multisectoral action for results, sharing country solutions and capturing the best practices and knowledge within and among the health sector and related sectors.
The opening ceremony featured an inspiring video with messages of commitment and calls for action to ensure no women, no child and no adolescent are left behind. In the opening keynote address, the Honourable Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, shared his belief that India is an example of hope. When the SDGs were agreed upon, India started far behind global standards and with focus and attention the country has achieved rapid growth and is on track to meet and exceed targets. The Prime Minister stressed the importance of partnerships in ensuring the good health of women.
Gabriela Cuevas Barron, Mexican Senator and President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, spoke about turning commitment into political action. "Around the world, we are 46,000 parliamentarians and we are responsible to turn international commitments into action - this means translating the work of PMNCH into national law, national plans and national budgets".
Tikhala Itaye, Chairperson of SheDecides and youth advocate from Malawi, provided an energetic call to action for PMNCH participants to truly work together, listen to one another and be clear about what we are driving towards - a world where every woman, every child and every adolescent can thrive with equality and dignity.
Plenary Session 1: Political Leadership in Uncertain Times
Gogontlejang Phaladi, philanthropist and development practitioner from Botswana, shared some powerful words: "we talk about hard to reach - making the excuse that it is challenging to get all youth in the furthest corners and I say in every corner of the world that I've been, you see a bottle of coke and a political campaign t-shirt of some sort. So I say, are they really that hard to reach or is it more about our will to reach them?"
Kamal Khera, Canadian Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, shared some inspiring words with participants. "We have to learn, coordinate our efforts, fill the gaps and we have to play to our strengths. Canada's strength is in gender equality. We are listening and we are leveraging a powerful movement like #SheDecides because if you can support every girl to say it, to believe it, that she truly decides, you can change the world". Kamal reminded attendees that sexual and reproductive health and rights must be a critical element of life-saving humanitarian responses and reiterated Canada's commitment to ensuring that all of the country's humanitarian work is gender responsive and focused.
Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA, put choice at the front and centre of her remarks. "We believe that there should be a world where no woman loses her life while giving life. Where true choice exists, where we are saving lives during sustainable growth and creating healthy thriving communities".
Ties Boerma, University of Manitoba, Countdown 2030 and CanWaCH #Collab4Impact partner, gave the opening remarks at today's official side event "Leaving No Woman, No Child Behind". He discussed the role of evidence and data in addressing inequalities and taking action to save lives.
Aluisio Barros from the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil spoke about how investment is needed for more, better quality, data in order to understand inequities in society. There is a large health inequality within urban areas. The richest in these areas have a large advantage over the poorest in most countries. So the question remains, how can we generate new evidence on inequities and inclusion?
Rakhi Dandona from the Public Health Institute in India spoke on the importance of public engagement in order to get decision-makers to use data. Thanks to Rakhi for sharing some great lessons learned - here are just a few:
- Significant engagement is needed to get data and data products out to potential and actual users
- Sometimes, data is challenges and contested, so we have to invest in resolving differences
- Dedicated resources (people, funds, time) to work on data mobilization is essential
Dr. James Blanchard from the University of Manitoba discussed translating data into action for maternal and neonatal health in India. He underscored the importance of investing in strengthening routine data collection systems to make the best possible programming decisions. Learn more about the University of Manitoba's leading role in the lab on Adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights: generating evidence and strengthening country capacity as a part of the Canadian Collaborative for Global Health here.
Today, our team attended "India Day: Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health + Adolescents' (RMNCH+A) Achievements, Lessons and Innovations" hosted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and UNFPA (India).
Speakers shared RMNCH+A’s achievements, lessons and innovations and facilitated meaningful exchange among different constituencies, including government, civil society, development partners and academic institutions. Ms. Gauri Singh speaking at the event said ‘building good health on communities is not like building a bridge. We can’t just build it and expect cars to come. We have to remember there are humans on the other end of health systems who make choices. You need to drive demand for health services and have high-quality services in place to meet the increased demand.'