Happy International Women’s Day!
Happy International Women’s Day! It’s been quite a year since last IWD and quite a day today to cap it off. The day has been filled with UN resolutions, women of courage awards, and lots of reminders of the great work that's being done for women around the world—as well as reminders of how much more we have to do together. I wrote this piece last year for IWD and was reminded of it again this year. Hope you're all finding your own ways to celebrate and to be re-inspired for the days to come.
Christy's Diary from Washington, DC - March 9th, 2011 - IWD
The 100-year anniversary of International Women's Day festivities and events kicked off Women's History month with more than a boom yesterday. What an exciting week for girls and women!
I was honored to be invited to submit an Op-Ed in yesterday’s Huffington Post among such inspiring women on such an important day for all of us, especially those dedicated to improving the lives of girls and women around the world. The collective messages from all were clear - we have much to celebrate but a long way yet to go. Let us share from hard lessons learned and use innovations in technology and science to quicken the pace for the next 100 years. And so, yesterday morning I took the train from NYC to Washington, DC to participate in today’s 2011 CARE National Advocacy Conference and also to attend the launch of a new USAID initiative.
I began my morning at USAID for the launch of, Saving lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge For Development where Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator at USAID, kicked off the event by explaining how this initiative came about and its goal of linking science and technology to address urgent global health issues - the first of many challenges over the next few years. The impetus came about through asking two questions: what are the structural bottlenecks and how can we solve them? "Science and technology can have transformative effects." – Dr. Rajiv Shah
Dr. Rajiv Shah came to his position at USAID last year after serving as Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics and as Chief Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Before his role there, he was at the Gates foundation where he served as the director of Strategic Opportunities and as deputy director of policy and finance for the Global Health Program. He introduced Melinda French Gates as the first guest speaker who explained the origins of Grand Challenges at the Foundation six years ago, launched to address the terrible problems around the world with innovation. She and her husband Bill challenged the Foundation to ask, "what is possible, imagine if we could put innovation and creativity in the hands of frontline workers?" Melinda used the example of the 100-year old device still used today to deliver medicine for Tuberculosis, which would never happen in the technology sector today!
She also acknowledged that for the millions of newborns that die every year, while we haven't always known what to do to save them, we now know that simple interventions really work. For example, breastfeeding does save newborns lives, “simple skin to skin contact in those first critical hours of an infant's life can save them."
She closed her remarks by adding that, "tools and knowledge save people's lives."
Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke next and reiterated a message that never gets tired, "development is not just the right thing to do but a smart thing to do…it is a powerful expression of who we are as Americans."
In the first 48 hours after delivery, there are 150,000 maternal deaths and 1.2 million stillbirths every year. Secretary Clinton aptly stated, "I don't want to live in a world where 1,000 Women die every day." Nor do I.
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