Media Note: US Leads the Fight Against Maternal Mortality at the 54th UN Commission on the Status of Women

New York, NY
March 12, 2010

Two Week Session Wrapping Up Today in New York

U.S. Ambassador Susan E. Rice today hailed the adoption by consensus of a United Nations General Assembly Resolution calling for the Elimination of Maternal Mortality and Morbidity through the Empowerment of Women as an important step forward for women around the world.  The United States introduced the resolution as a cornerstone of its leadership during the 54th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). 

This important resolution confronts one of the most daunting challenges faced by women around the world.   Despite a decade of work towards the UN’s Millennium Development Goal on maternal health, maternal mortality around the world remains alarmingly high. 

As Ambassador Rice noted in introducing the resolution, “Every year, an estimated 530,000 women die from largely preventable complications during pregnancy or childbirth. That means that a woman dies from pregnancy-related conditions once every minute.” 

The resolution urges leaders to tackle this problem – through renewed political will, increased resources for women’s reproductive health and a shared determination to confront the underlying causes of gender inequality, including sexual violence against women.

Ambassador Rice said the U.S. is working at the conference “toward a world where women and girls everywhere can fulfill their potential, free of fear, free of want, and with the opportunity to live their own dreams.  Many of us here in this country may take those opportunities for granted. But when women are held back anywhere, the world is held back.”

The U.S. also pushed for the creation of a more robust, efficient and effective entity at the United Nations to advance women’s equality and opportunities.  

“The new organization must be swiftly established, well staffed, and sufficiently resourced.   A key component will be the prompt appointment of dynamic, high-level person as Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director to head it.  We seek a new entity that is a vigorous actor, with resources to command, and stature to coordinate with the rest of the UN system – and we are working diligently to make it happen,” Ambassador Rice said. 

The U.S. has been represented at CSW by a high level delegation. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who led the U.S. delegation to the Beijing Conference, is speaking today at the UN about the progress that has been made worldwide in the 15 years since Beijing, and the work ahead.  Key advisors from the Obama Administration, including Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement; Lynn Rosenthal, White House Advisor on Violence Against Women; Tina Tchen, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls; and Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues; as well as Ambassador Meryl Frank, Deputy U.S. Representative to the CSW, have also led the work of the Commission in New York. 

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