U.N. Women Has Opportunity To Improve Women’s Health

“U.N. Women has an important role as a global champion for women and girls; and the change in leadership later this month will have important implications for the welfare of women, especially in terms of health,” a Lancet editorial states. “A change in leadership” — from former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet to former Deputy President of South Africa Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka — “provides an opportunity to reflect on U.N. Women’s strategic priorities and direction,” the editorial writes, adding, “U.N. Women must not allow the world to neglect women’s health, nor to forget that physical and mental health involve far more than bearing and raising children.”

“The challenge will be to identify the comparative advantage of U.N. Women over other established U.N. entities, such as those for population, development, children, refugees, and health,” The Lancet writes. “At a time when the role of women in society is under particular scrutiny, violence against women and adolescents is increasing, and political attention has been brought to U.N. Women, a priority for the new Executive Director, Mlambo-Ngcuka, will be to convert the powerful advocacy for gender equity of Bachelet into practical and effective programs,” according to the editorial, which concludes, “The test — as for any U.N. institution — will not be the output of words, nor even changes in attitudes, but the extent to which the policies of U.N. Women actually improve the lives of women in their own countries” (8/10).