Making Accountability Count, Part 2

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By: Ann Starrs, President and Co-Founder, Family Care International

Last month I blogged here about the launch of the high-level Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, co-chaired by the President of Tanzania and the Prime Minister of Canada and tasked with defining an accountability framework “for global reporting, oversight and accountability on women’s and children’s health.” The Commission, according to its mandate from the Secretary-General, “will create a system to track whether donations for women’s and children’s health are made on time, resources are spent wisely and transparently, and whether the desired results are achieved.” Here is a quick update on the Commission and its two working groups.

The Commission itself held its first meeting on January 26th (described in Women Deliver’s meeting summary), and will prepare its final report by the time of the World Health Assembly, in the third week of May. The two working groups, one on results and one on resources, will develop recommendations for consideration by the Commission, which will then issue its report with final recommendations for action. The working group reports will be finalized by the third week of March. (I am a member of the results working group.)

Information on this process can be found at, the website for the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. The site contains up-to-date information on the Commission and its work, as well as the two papers that have been produced to date by the working groups.

The NGO community is represented in both the Commission and the working groups; there are three NGOs on the Commission (World Vision International, Women Deliver, and World YWCA), and several in each working group. As the working groups deliberate, and as the Commission, in its turn, reviews their working papers and recommendations, it is important that NGO viewpoints be included in the process. There are several options for sharing your thoughts:

  1. by visiting the “discussion forum” at the Global Strategy website, where you can post comments on the working papers.
  2. by directly contacting World Vision International, which is a member of the Commission. Kevin Jenkins, the President and CEO of World Vision, has written an open letter to the PMNCH NGO community inviting feedback, which can be sent to Stefan Germann. Please send feedback by February 23rd.
  3. by contacting me with comments specific to the working group. The results working paper is currently being revised, and should be available within the next week or two.

It is crucial that the views and insights of civil society, and of the maternal health community specifically, be fully and clearly represented throughout the accountability process. Please follow up through any of the channels identified above with your questions, comments, and perspectives on this critically important effort. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to post updates when there is new information to share or new opportunities for participation.