An afternoon at the UN

Sarah Brown and Bience Gawanas

Good meeting with Bience Gawanas on how we can progress the maternal mortality campaign in Africa (she is leading the new CARMMA network to recruit champions in African countries to take the work forward). We both join a meeting of the Global Health Council to explain more about what we are doing to a gathering of First Ladies and global health professionals. Next stop Bience and I meet up with Nick Kristof and Sheryl DuWunn to work out ways to collaborate with the Half the Sky movement (so called from the Chinese proverb – Women Hold Up Half the Sky). A very energetic and positive meeting.

Lunch is hosted today by Mrs Ban Soon-Taek for all the G20 spouses to focus on climate change and education. I am honoured to be invited to speak to the guests alongside Mrs Ban and Michelle Obama, and then we heard some young speakers make their contribution.

There is a quick move after the lunch to get to the big Global Health meeting in the UN building where some exciting announcements are being made with Ban Ki-Moon and Gordon in the chair. I am delighted that some of the spouses head in the same direction and I am seated near Therese Rein of Australia and Janet Museveni of Uganda.

The chamber is full with so many countries there to support the new proposals and financial commitments that will make for healthier women and children. President Michelle Bachelet comments that she is impressed by the rapid progress that this issue has made in the last 12 months. After listening to the addresses from Ban Ki-Moon and from Gordon, they are both called away to other meetings to speak. So I find myself suddenly in the chair on the platform representing the United Kingdom on the issue.

Prime Minister Stoltenberg of Norway, who together with Britain has led on the issue of maternal mortality from the start, made a very good contribution reminding everyone that good progress is being made on children’s health but there is still much to do for mothers around the world who raise those children. What is needed, he said, is more money, better use of that money and awareness. I see the awareness bit as the role I can play.

After the meeting ends, I just have time to attend the last part of a meeting on HIV/AIDS bringing all the big AIDS agencies together at which my friend Carla Bruni-Sarkoky is participating as she is the Global Fund Ambassador and passionate about preventing mother to child transmission of the HIV virus. It is good to link up the various aspects of global health as we seek to find ways to help the health needs of everyone.

Now back at hotel to spend a bit too long writing this blog and not quite enough time to get ready for dinner this evening. I will report on the dinner tomorrow as it will have been a long day – so no midnight blogging for me.

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