The 2013 Impact Awards: Remarks
Id like to start my remarks by mentioning a few girls and women I met on a recent trip to India with PSI.
In a slum in Delhi, I met Manisha - an 8-year-old girl who looked no more than 5 or 6, she was very fragile and quite small for her age. Manisha is HIV+ and infected with tuberculosis.
I saw strength and determination in Shweta, a teenage girl with a dream of being a doctor. Shweta will likely be married off soon because her parents cant afford her education.
I sat with Geeta, a mother who had given birth to three babies, alone, on the floor of her home without proper care or even the basic supplies she needed to give birth safely.
Sadness became anger. We must disrupt the cycle.
With programs to better educate girls and women on the risks of TB. And, by integrating screening, diagnosis and treatment with high-quality medicines where Manisha and her mother seek their health solutions we give a fighting chance.
With more voices and stronger policies to prevent child marriage, and by including families, boys and men in the conversation Shweta could call herself doctor Shweta.
When Geeta can purchase a low-cost clean delivery kit complete with medicine to stop bleeding after birth and an antiseptic gel to stop infection in her newborn child we ensure shell delivery safely and will be there to raise her children.
We can do all of this. With greater investment in health solutions that reach girls and women where they are, when they need them, we give girls and women the most basic building block in the path out of poverty.
When I think back on Manisha and Swheta and Geeta I am inspired by their strength and courage in the face of hardship most of us will never know.
This week we will hear countless stories, some of them horrific - about the dangers that face girls and women. Its what we choose to do that distinguishes us as true leaders.
Tonight we celebrate the work of people who have distinguished themselves through service to others.
Today in most countries, girls and women are going to school more, living longer, getting better jobs, and acquiring legal rights and protections that might not have seemed possible 20 or 30 years ago.
Much of that progress is due to women and men like those we are honoring tonight. I congratulate each one of you for your dedication.