Eight women from around the world joined together to form the W8.
These extraordinary women from Central America, Africa, Europe and South East Asia, have dedicated their lives to fighting for health and education in their own countries.
They have one message and one voice: Universal access to free health and education is the most effective way to reach the Millennium Development Goals and break the cycle of poverty.
In March 2010, members of the W8 travelled to Canada and various EU member states to bring the voice of their communities to the attention of world leaders and to explain the pressing need for more access to health and education in poor countries.
Throughout their tour, they met with Heads of State, Members of the EU Parliament, and national ministers in Canada, UK, France, The Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. During these meetings, the W8 called for more effort to be placed into meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
> Read the W8 Wrap-up Tour Blog: The W8 tour: 8 women, 1 month, 6 countries, 2 Heads of State, a Princess and a Queen
Watch: The W8 are on mission – health and education for all!
The cost of inaction
There has been some improvement, but there is a long way to go before health and education is available, accessible and affordable for all. If we don't invest in basic services for the poorest people, many more lives will be needlessly lost.
- Every three seconds a child dies from a preventable disease.
- Every minute a woman dies in childbirth or pregnancy.
- Around the world, 72 million children don’t go to school. Most of those are girls.
The W8: Eight extraordinary women, one unique voice
Credit: Tom Pietrasik
Sandhya Venkateswaran works for the Indian coalition ‘Don’t Break Your Promises’. It has over 3,000 members and aims to monitor the progress of Indian government towards meeting its commitments to reduce poverty.
“Something as basic as giving birth to a child is incredibly risky for a large proportion of women, and although there has been a lot of talk about improving maternal health, many women just don’t know whether they will survive childbirth.”
Credit: Irma Sharikadze
Miranda Akhvlediani works for the Georgian coalition ‘Future Without Poverty’. The coalition hopes to be a mechanism to voice the problems of the poor in Georgia. Due to their campaigning work, the government now recognizes the need for adequate regulation of privatized healthcare systems.
“In Georgia, the lack of access to healthcare is one of the most pressing problems.”
Credit: Mahmud Map
Rokeya Kabir is the convener of the My Rights campaign in Bangladesh: a national platform that puts pressure on the government to ensure primary education for all children.
"In Bangladesh, education for all remains only a basic principle of the constitution, not a basic right of a citizen and a state responsibility. We need at least one school per village and one teacher per 30 students."
Credit: Sven Torfinn
Kadiatou Baby Maiga is the president of the Malian coalition Education for All. Kady sees a strong civil society as a major resource for the government – offering knowledge and experience in order to support the government to achieve its goals on education.
“In my year at high school only two of the 80 pupils were girls. This made me realize that education was not as normal to other girls as it was to me."
Credit: Peerapat Wimolrungkarat
Doctor Jiraporn Limpananont is a member of the Free Trade Agreement Watch coalition in Thailand, protecting poor people against the negative impacts of bilateral and regional trade agreements. With a professional background in pharmacy, Dr. Jiraporn provides the group with knowledge about how intellectual property rules affect the prices and affordability of medicines, and limit poor people’s access to urgently needed medicines.
Credit: Gerard Carreon
Professor Leonor Magtolis Briones is the convener of Social Watch Philippines/ Alternative Budget Initiative. She is playing a major role in the access to health and medicines campaign in the Philippines. Using her extensive knowledge of public finance, she is helping put together an alternative budget for the government – one with more money spent on essential services.
“For women and girls, specific issues on health and education are worse.”
Credit: German Antonia Miranda
Elba Rivera-Urbina works for the Nicaraguan campaign for education and is living proof of the power of education. At the age of 18 a literacy campaign brought her out of illiteracy –and transformed her life. From the little girl who so badly wanted to go to school – against her father’s wishes – she has become a powerful woman who leads advocacy initiatives through school.
“There is a huge need for quality education for teachers.”
Credits: Eldson Chagara
Dorothy Ngoma is the Executive Director of the National Organization of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi. Dorothy has 32 years of experience working as a nurse, training nurses and advocating on behalf of nurses in Malawi.
“We fight against all sort of diseases: TB, malaria, HIV/AIDS, cholera and dysentery – it’s a sick community. And why is this so complicated? The richest countries have already been through all the killer diseases and poverty.”