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Daily Report Global Health Conversations: U.N. Women

After years in the making, U.N. Women, the U.N.’s new agency devoted to gender equality and women’s empowerment, officially got to work this month. The Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report’s Jennifer Evans spoke with Letty Chiwara, head of U.N. Women’s Africa Division, to discuss the agency’s launch and the overlap between issues relating to women’s health and their equality and empowerment.

“The whole issue of women’s health is central to the work we do at U.N. Women,” Chiwara explained. “At the end of the day, if women are not healthy, they can’t [re]produce, …but they also cannot be productive, in the sense of economic development or their contribution to development.”

The connection between women’s equality and empowerment and health is one fully recognized by U.N. Women’s Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, Chiwara emphasized, noting Under-Secretary General Bachelet “has been working very closely and seeking closer collaboration with UNFPA [U.N. Population Fund] and moving on with the commitment that was made at the [MDG] Summit” to improve women’s and children’s health.

“There’s a lot of expectation of U.N. Women,” Chiwara said, reflecting on what’s to come for the new agency in its first year. “The greatest challenge for us is to get the resources we need financially to help us to then build the technical resources we need to deliver … on the ground.” According to Chiwara, U.N. Women plans to release an action plan in February.

This audio interview is part of the Daily Report’s Global Health Conversations series featuring global health thought leaders discussing topical issues pertaining to U.S. policy on global health.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.