(Delayed for technical reasons.)
Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video message to a virtual side event of the Economic and Social Council’s High-Level Political Forum on “Equity in the era of COVID-19 and the Sustainable Development Goals: Improving Accountability for the Health and Rights of Vulnerable Women, Children and Adolescents”, on 13 July:
I thank Her Excellency President [Kersti] Kaljulaid of Estonia, the Secretary-General’s Global Advocate for Every Woman Every Child, and the Retired Honourable Helen Clark for their unsparing efforts on behalf of women, children and adolescents.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global crisis. But it has not affected us equally, and it will continue to widen and expose inequities. Once again, women and girls are bearing the brunt.
We have seen a global surge in domestic violence, and spikes in child marriage. The pandemic has overwhelmed health systems in many places, heightening the risk of women dying from complications of pregnancy and childbirth and disrupting routine childhood immunizations. We should also recognize the profound impact on the mental health of adolescents and young people, which could last into adulthood.
Even before the pandemic, progress towards reducing maternal and child mortality had slowed. Now, we must double down on delivering the “Every Woman Every Child” Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, which is our road map for ending preventable deaths and diseases and is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.
I trust the leadership of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations system will continue to support this important work with a sense of urgency and scale.
The gaps that the pandemic has widened, and which further marginalize those most vulnerable, must be overcome through strengthened coordination and partnerships globally and nationally. And we must start now, even as COVID-19 still rages in many parts of the world. We cannot afford to let the situation for women and children worsen. Instead, we must step up investments and build more resilient primary health-care systems as part of the recovery.
Together, let’s seize this pivotal moment to make the Decade of Action a reality and leave no one behind.