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Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid was appointed the first Global Advocate of the United Nations Secretary-General for Every Woman Every Child

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid was appointed the first Global Advocate of the United Nations Secretary-General for Every Woman Every Child © Mattias Tammet/VPK

28.06.2021

At the today’s meeting of President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in New York President Kersti Kaljulaid was appointed the first Global Advocate of the United Nations Secretary-General for Every Woman Every Child. The appointment is for two years.

“The wellbeing of women, children and adolescents and their access to healthcare is along with the fight against climate change among two biggest challenges for the countries of the world to jointly address in the next decades. While we are mostly aware of the problems, their root causes and solution, we are still making progress slowly. In different crises, also in the current COVID crisis, it is the most vulnerable—the women, children and adolescents—who suffer the most.

No person or organisation can change this by themselves, but all of us—countries, international organisations, civil society, everyone—have an opportunity to initiate change even in a smaller scale or to give it momentum. This is an opportunity offered by the role of Global Advocate,” President Kaljulaid explained.

“In a time of complex development challenges, the investments we make today in women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and well-being will help build the peaceful, sustainable and inclusive societies we have promised to achieve through the Sustainable Development Goals,” said the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He highlighted that President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid embodies the mission of Every Woman Every Child: she is keen to leverage technology as an ‘equalizer of opportunity’ to reach those left furthest behind and build bridges to address the most pressing challenges facing women, children and adolescents.

Secretary General Guterres explained that the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “Yet today, women and children are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis and are disproportionately impacted by growing conflicts, rising social inequality, and vulnerabilities wrought by climate change.  In this complex global environment, putting the most vulnerable at the forefront of the development agenda is critical if we are to build the peaceful, sustainable and inclusive societies we have promised to achieve through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he added.

To fulfil these goals the UN Secretary General Guterres has created a new role—Global Advocate on Every Woman Every Child and the next two years the role will be filled by President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid.

Every Woman Every Child was launched in 2010 by former UN Secretary-General H.E. Ban Ki-moon to catalyze a political movement to advance the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents everywhere. Since the launch of Every Woman Every Child a decade ago, more than 1 billion children have been vaccinated, 25 million child marriages were prevented and many other objectives have been reached.

“At the same time the situation in many regions and fields is still depressing. Every day more than 14 000 under 5-year old children die, in every 13 seconds a newborn dies, in every hour 33 women die in childbirth. A lot of these deaths could be prevented—by better access to health care, by education, by humanitarian help and in developing the situation on human rights. This is why we cannot simply observe this situation, we have to act,” President Kaljulaid said.

As the global Advocate President Kaljulaid will mainly focus on three goals: reducing maternal mortality, increasing nutritional security and enhancing innovation and the use of digital solutions. “Today the most pressing concern also in these issues is reducing the influence of the pandemic. Next to direct health risks we can see how the wider influence of the pandemic—overloading health care systems and their inadequacy, educational gaps, disruptions to usual supply chains and much more—again influences the weakest the most. Reaching the goals we have set for 2030 is becoming increasingly complicated, but we have to continue to work hard,” President Kaljulaid said and explained that she sees the role of the Global Advocate as mainly the creator and leader of a network. “The Office of the UN Secretary General, different UN agencies like UNICEF and UNWOMEN, World Health Organisation, World Bank, but also civil society organisations like the Red Cross, World Vision and many others—this is the team we will be working with in the next two years, “ President Kaljulaid explained.

President Kersti Kaljulaid was the co-chair alongside UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to the High-Level Steering Group for Every Woman Every Child for two years. After the steering group concluded its activities in April the UN Secretary General created the role of the Global Advocate. The Global Advocate does not have a separate secretariat or a budget. President Kaljulaid will be filling the role of the Global Advocate for the next two years.