Kaljulaid appointed first UN Global Advocate for women and children

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President Kersti Kaljulaid and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Source: Mattias Tammet/presidendi kantselei

President Kersti Kaljulaid was appointed the first Global Advocate of the United Nations Secretary-General for Every Woman Every Child on Monday. The appointment will last for two years.

Kaljulaid, who is on a working visit to the U.S., was appointed to the position by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in New York. She will mainly focus on three goals: reducing maternal mortality, increasing nutritional security and enhancing innovation and the use of digital solutions.

The president of Estonia said the wellbeing of women, children and adolescents and their access to healthcare are some of the biggest problems facing the world in the next two decades.

"No person or organization can change this by themselves, but all of us -countries, international organizations, civil society, everyone - have an opportunity to initiate change even on a smaller scale or to give it momentum," Kaljulaid said.

She said in many areas the situation for women and children is "depressing".

"Every day more than 14,000 children under five years old die, every 13 seconds a newborn dies, every hour 33 women die in childbirth. A lot of these deaths could be prevented - by better access to health care, by education, by humanitarian help and in developing the situation on human rights. This is why we cannot simply observe this situation, we have to act," Kaljulaid said.

Guterres said Kaljulaid embodies the mission of Every Woman Every Child: she is keen to leverage technology as an 'equalizer of opportunity' to reach those left furthest behind and build bridges to address the most pressing challenges facing women, children and adolescents.

The Every Woman Every Child initiative was launched in 2010 to catalyze a political movement to advance the health and well-being of women, children, and adolescents everywhere.

Since the launch of Every Woman Every Child more than one billion children have been vaccinated, 25 million child marriages were prevented and many other objectives have been reached.

Kaljulaid previously was the co-chair to the High-Level Steering Group for Every Woman Every Child for two years.

The president wrote on social media on Monday that she was "proud" to be the first global advocate for Every Woman Every Child.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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