London is greyer and wetter than NY-but the coffee is better, and much needed after finally leaving JFK at 130 am. Sleeping sitting up is an art I have perfected, but by then I could have slept standing up-so my apologies if last night’s comments were not particularly insightful or detailed.
So now a few reflections on the last few days-firstly some of the personal pictures I will be keeping in my mental photo album :
The first sight, every morning, of the UN, the world’s flags fluttering in the sunlight of a clear NY morning-a real reminder that while it may not be perfect, and often gets it wrong, it’s the best hope we have to a shared collective vision of a better world-and we need to make it work.
Watching a whispered, quick conversation between Nafis Sadik and Thoraya Obaid in the dimmed light of the ECOSOC room yesterday as the panellists changed-two very different women, with very different styles, from different cultures, who shared a vision and have led UNFPA on the real issues of our time, issues of choice and aspiration that are at the heart of the daily life of people across the globe. I hope the selection process next week will find us someone who can follow them in engaging world leaders and civil society at every level in spite of politics and pressures of every kind.
- UNAIDs Michel Sidibe’s indefatigable energy and passion for what he believes the world can do to win the fight against HIV.
- The perplexed expression on the face of Asa Regner, Secretary General of RFSU, one of the oldest Member Associations of IPPF and respected universally for tireless, powerful work on rights (‘Sex is politics’), as she discussed the results of the Swedish election
- Graca Machel, tall and colourful, putting aside her speech to speak from the heart, reminding us that the words at the UN are important-but it is the translation of them into action at the local level of every village and community that matters.
- The clearly articulated vision and determination of so many young leaders, some already in positions of influence, like the Danish all party parliamentarian group, many with impressive experience, qualifications and huge commitment that I would not have dreamed of at their age-but they can and will create a resilient more sustainable world.
Conversations: should the GFATM be enlarged to include maternal and reproductive health, what is feminism today, how to get more meaningful engagement of civil society at every level. They deliver half the health services in many countries, yet 24 speakers across 6 round tables, each speaking for 3 minutes, and in some cases reduced to 1 minute because of lack of time, together with some 25 observers passes a day do not create a space for mutually respectful dialogue and engagement-though some states and UN staff would welcome this, others may not-but this needs to change urgently at every level, as we move towards 2015.
And from IPPFs perspective many things: A renewed sense of how important and unique our Federation is, the breadth of its mission, its willingness to work across such a breadth of issues, its volunteer base and structure of autonomous Member Associations, community based NGOs, united by common principles and vision, they can show what country-owned, sustainable development can be, with their dual roles of programmes and advocacy at every level.
With this in mind we have made significant additional commitments in the Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, well beyond those in the published summary, both as IPPF, and as a member of the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition. (That topic of supplies is another whole series of blogs I’m afraid!). We were able to make clear recommendations to Member States for the next 5 years, through the Roundtables, and to raise issues of the loss of life and well being related to unsafe illegal abortion and sexual rights and the need to address these, in order to achieve human rights, justice, equity and development.
We will now need to analyse the promises made by ourselves, others NGOs and states in this and the outcome document, after it is adopted today. We will need to consider how we can deliver our new model of comprehensive sexuality education, integrate HIV, human rights, gender equity and health and sexuality; how we can contribute through our Declaration of Sexual Rights and advocacy, while monitoring our own and others’ achievements. In the meantime, we succeeded in raising the issues of gender, women and girls and young people through statements and side events and calling attention to the urgent need to invest in young people, and the importance of partnership at every level. In Minister Carlssons word we, and our issues, were very evident-despite the challenges!
So now the work begins.
There is much more that I will return to another time, for us in IPPF, and more widely-some powerful lines to quote-and genuinely considered commitments, plus I have a bag full of new reports and publications to share!
But, in the meantime as I go, back to the office now, a moment to think about what will it mean for the world. The cynics will say ‘very little’, those who oppose multilateralism will be far fiercer in their condemnation, but for the rest of us-we must think about how we can help to take it forward, because we now have that chance.
Certainly it wasn’t Cairo or Beijing-but then it’s the General Assembly, not a conference, and the world is in a very different place. Progress has been made. Today we are at a point where there are new promises to be implemented-and they must be- as time is too short for too many for this not to happen. We need to contribute-individually and collectively to make this happen.