"Strengthening health and education systems is not enough; it is essential to make sure the systems connect with girls. Complex issues require complex approaches. UN agencies must align with governments' national policy and frameworks - with girls placed at the centre. Scale remains a challenge, but government commitment is critical in making change happen." - Laura Laski

Panel Discussion: Spotlight on Progress - "It's Everyone's Business: Strong and Comprehensive National Responses to Child, Early and Forced Marriage"

Context: Partnering with the private sector is key, according to the moderator of "It's Everyone's Business: Strong and Comprehensive National Responses to Child, Early and Forced Marriage". This is one of the 14 "Spotlights on Progress" video-recorded sessions from the Girl Summit 2014, London, United Kingdom (UK). The sessions were organised to share "best practices" developed by practitioners, grassroots activists, and ministers of state who are working to address female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM). The Girl Summit is a project of the United Kingdom (UK)'s Department for International Development (DFID).

Profile of speaker: Laura Laski, MD, MPH is currently Chief of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Branch in Technical Division at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in New York, United States (US), and the Team Leader of the Adolescent and Youth Cluster Strategy. Laura worked for many years in evaluation and research of adolescent sexual and reproductive health programmes at the University of California in San Francisco, US and as an Obstetrician (OB)/gynaecologist (GYN) in her native country, Argentina, where she provided services to low-income women in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires.

Strategy overview: In her presentation "Multi-sectorial working for girl-centered programming, Global", which can be viewed in the video below, Laura Laski spoke from a global perspective on the importance of multi-sectoral responses and girl-centred programming, including building girls' health, social, and economic assets - drawing on lessons from Niger and India. The purpose of this strategy is to ensure that a girl can have health check-ups, a network of friends, literacy training, and participate in micro-savings groups. Strengthening health and education systems is not enough, Dr. Laski says; it is essential to make sure the systems connect with girls. Complex issues require complex approaches. UN agencies must align with governments' national policy and frameworks - with girls placed at the centre. Scale remains a challenge, but government commitment is critical in making change happen. Dr. Laski also spoke to the importance of more coordinated approaches to support national governments through comprehensive programmatic frameworks.

In this November 2011 interview, Dr. Laski discusses, amongst other things, the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health [PDF], which she says was created to ensure progress for the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Dr. Laski points to the fact that the global strategy is "explicit about the network of responses necessary to address MDGs 4 and 5. It links reproductive health to education (MDG 2), to nutrition (MDG 1), and to the rights of women including reducing child marriages and addressing gender based violence (MDG 3)."

Overview of this Summit Session: "This Spotlight provides the opportunity to learn from a number of countries on their experiences of joined-up approaches to tackle child, early and forced marriage at scale - including the main challenges they faced and effective actions that helped bring success.

The session is opened by Rob Swartbol, Director-General for International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Netherlands. The speakers, in order of appearance, are:
Hon. Minister Zenebu Tadesse Woldetsadik Minister of Women, Children and Youth Affairs, Government of Ethiopia
Patricia Bah National Coordinator for the Teenage Pregnancy Secretariat, Government of Sierra Leone
Raj Kumar Mahato Chairperson, BHORE
Laura Laski Chief of Sexual and Reproductive Health, UNFPA

The session is moderated by Rajesh Mirchandani, World Affairs Correspondent and Anchor, BBC News."

Footage of this (available below) and other "Spotlights" are available on DFID’s YouTube channel.

The Girl Summit is a project of DFID. Click here and scroll down to see the full list of individuals and organisations committed to working on girls' issues, as well as a list of Girl Summit Charter signatories.

Source: 

"Girl Summit 2014: Spotlight session outlines"; Global Health Delivery Project at Harvard University blog, posted on November 18 2011 by Sophie Beauvais - both accessed on August 5 2015.

See video