You are here:   Home/ Development News/ World Bank

UN, WB Support Action for Women's Health in Africa's Sahel

Xinhua News Agency, November 8, 2013 Adjust font size:

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim on Wednesday pledged US$200 million to improve women's reproductive health and girls' education in Africa's Sahel region.

Kim announced the 200-million-dollar Sahel Women's Empowerment and Demographics Project in Niger's capital of Niamey, during a joint visit to the region by leaders from five international organizations -- the United Nations, the World Bank, the African Union, the African Development Bank, and the European Union.

"As we work towards ending poverty across the developing world, we know that educating adolescent girls and getting health services to women will lead to greater prosperity not just for individual families but also for entire economies," Kim said.

The project is in response to Niger's "Call to Action" for improvements in maternal and reproductive health and adolescent girls' education, said Farhan Haq, acting UN deputy spokesperson, at a daily news briefing.

While Niger and most of the countries in the Sahel have reduced child mortality significantly in recent years, maternal and child mortality levels remain high, as do fertility rates, according to a note from the UN spokesperson's office.

The initiative is aimed to improve the availability and affordability of reproductive health commodities, strengthen specialized training centers for rural based midwifery/nursing services, and pilot and share knowledge on adolescent girls' initiatives.

It is a supplement to the World Bank's existing US$150 million in commitments over the next two years for maternal and child health programs in the Sahel, an arid region just south of the Sahara Desert that stretches across North Africa.

At the launch of the new initiative, the UN chief said that the call is not simply about numbers, it is about people. "When women and girls have the tools to shape their own future, they will advance development for all."

The UN chief underlined the importance to not only take steps to support women, but also to change mindsets.

"Help us create conditions where your daughters, your sisters and your wives have full equality. Help us create a society where women never have to fear violence at the hands of men. Help us create families where mothers and fathers decide together how many children they want to have. The time to do this is now," he said on his second joint visit to Africa with the World Bank chief.

Niger is the second stop of the trip to the Sahel region for the development leaders that began in Mali and will also take them to Burkina Faso and Chad. In May, Ban and Kim traveled to the Great Lakes region, focusing on promoting peace and development.

Bookmark and Share

Related News & Photos