About the Author: Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer serves as director of the Secretary's Office of Global Women's Issues.
Fifteen years ago, representatives from 179 nations came together at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo and agreed that, by the year 2015, all governments would make access to reproductive health care and family planning services a basic right. They agreed that governments would dramatically reduce maternal, infant, and child mortality, and ensure that girls and women have access to education.
Fifteen years ago, at this forum, the world first made the connections explicit between women's health, the quality of women's lives, and human progress and development.
Fifteen years later, the deadline set at ICPD is nearly here. And while we've made progress in a lot of areas, we have far too much to do to meet those goals.
We know what needs to be done. We have the tools but need to increase funding and attention to maternal, infant and child health and family planning. There is a direct connection between a woman's ability to plan her family, space her pregnancies, and give birth safely, and her ability to get an education, work outside the home, support her family, and participate fully in the life of her community.
In the United States, we're recommitting ourselves to that priority. As Secretary Clinton said, our Global Health Initiative dedicates $63 billion over the next six years to improve global health -- largely by addressing the unmet needs of women and children. This is a moral and humanitarian issue, but it's also one of international development -- educated, healthy mothers have educated, healthy families -- and of international stability and security.