Source:  Heritage
The Minister of Gender and Development, Julia Duncan Cassell, has said global efforts to ensure universal access to reproductive health by 2015 are facing challenges worldwide.

This, she noted, is because the quest to reduce maternal mortality, one of the two gender specific goals, remains "unattainable and off track," especially in Africa and South Asia, according to the Minister Counselor for Press and Public Affairs at the Permanent Mission of Liberia at the United Nations, Mr. Abu Kamara.

Minister Cassell made the statement in her address to a cross-section of delegates at a side-event co-sponsored by Liberia, France and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), on the margin of the Commission on the Status of Women, held at Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium, UN Headquarters in New York. She explained that while global trends indicate a decline in maternal mortality by 47 percent between 1990 and 2010, and decline in fertility by 23 percent, this picture "is not true across all regions and countries."

She pointed out that statistics reveal that 800 women still die every day of pregnancy-related causes and that 99 percent of these deaths occur in developing countries , particularly Africa and South Asia.

Minister Cassell, however, noted that while evidence shows that some countries in Africa, including Liberia, have made progress in strengthening policy and legal framework to support the empowerment of women and girls, many others are still grappling with challenges of high maternal deaths, teenage pregnancies , early marriage, FGM and persistent poverty.

"Strides in addressing maternal mortality can be made through a paradigm shift that looks at giving birth from a gender equality perspective," the Liberian Gender and Development Minister observed.

Madam Cassell noted that as the global community looks towards 2015, it must reaffirm efforts to ensure that gender equality and women empowerment be maintained as a separate goal, with expanded indicators that cover reduction of sexual and gender-based violence. Also speaking at the session, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said despite the enormous progress being made towards creating an enabling environment for increased opportunities for all, irrespective of gender, beliefs and social status, there remains discrimination against women and girls in certain societies, a situation, he said, that demands collective action on the part of the global community.

He called for a change of behavior in cultural practices that are inimical to progress.

Also making remarks, the Executive Director of UN Women , Phumzile Mlambo Ngucka, pointed out that gender equality and mainstreaming are an integral part of the Millennium Development Goals, and as such must be given due attention, if progress is to be made.


Gender & Development Minister Julia Duncan-Cassell

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