On June 9, 2014, more than 250 friends and supporters gathered in New York to celebrate the International Women’s Health Coalition’s 30th anniversary at a gala. At the event gala dinner, IWHC honored United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his tireless work to advance the rights of women and girls around the world.
The Secretary-General is an outspoken advocate for gender equality and reproductive rights. He has called on governments to abolish child marriage, led the creation of UN Women, and established a Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict to address this growing problem.
IWHC also presented the second annual Joan B. Dunlop Award to Ninuk Widyantoro, co-founder of the YKP Women’s Health Foundation and an outstanding women’s health and rights activist based in Jakarta, Indonesia.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is a global champion for the rights of women and girls, especially the most marginalized. He is an outspoken advocate for gender equality and reproductive rights and has called on governments to abolish child marriage. At the United Nations, he led the creation of UN Women, a high-level agency focused on promoting women's rights worldwide. He has also established a Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict to address this growing problem.
Under Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's leadership, the number of women in senior management positions at the UN has increased by more than 40 percent, reaching the highest level in the organization's history.
Ambassador Ib Petersen has served as Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations in New York since August 1, 2013. Previously, Ambassador Petersen held a number of senior management positions in Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including State Secretary for Development Policy and State Secretary for Development Cooperation, Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the United Nations.
At the gala, IWHC President Françoise Girard welcomed guests and noted IWHC’s progress over the last 30 years. “Think about it,” she said. “Thirty years ago, violence against women or child marriage were basically hidden problems. Contraception and sexuality were not discussed at global meetings. Gender equality was considered extremely controversial. We’ve come a very long way! But we still have a way to go.”
Girard added, “Together, activists for women’s rights are an irresistible force. When we organize (and have the means to do so), it’s amazing what we can achieve… We, women’s groups, are at the decision-making table at the United Nations and in Washington D.C., to counter the powerful forces that would turn back the clock for women and for girls. And we will never rest! Not until the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all women and girls are guaranteed. That’s our promise.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was introduced by IWHC Board Chair Marlene Hess, who spoke about his efforts to advance the rights of women and girls, including by initiating campaigns to curb maternal and infant mortality and end violence against women, and establishing the first International Day of the Girl.
During his keynote speech, the Secretary-General said, “I am more convinced than ever that women’s health, especially sexual and reproductive health, is fundamental to their empowerment and gender equality. And when we empower women and foster equality, they can claim their right to health.”
He added, “I applaud the Coalition for connecting communities and activists on the ground to negotiators and leaders around the world. I thank you so much for this meaningful award, and for all that you have done to advance women’s health globally.”
After dinner, Ambassador Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations, presented the second annual Joan B. Dunlop Award to Dr. Ninuk Widyantoro of the YKP Women’s Health Foundation in Jakarta, Indonesia. Ambassador Petersen called Dr. Widyantoro a deserving and outstanding activist, noting her work to advance sexual and reproductive rights in Indonesia and globally through her advocacy at the UN.
Dr. Widyantoro accepted the award, noting that Joan Dunlop, IWHC’s founder and first president, was a mentor to her and supported her to establish the YKP Women’s Health Foundation in 2001.
“Receiving this award at this time—when the road ahead is still long and unclear and so much more work needs to be done in Indonesia to ensure our health and rights—it is just what I needed most.”
Watch Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s keynote address: