UNITED NATIONS, New York — A policy maker who advocates population and gender issues, Dame Billie Antoinette Miller of Barbados, and a New York-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that helps save women’s lives in developing countries, Family Care International (FCI), have won this year’s United Nations Population Award. The Award is given each year to individuals and institutions for their outstanding work in population and in improving the health and welfare of individuals.
The Population Award Committee, chaired by Sweden’s Ambassador Anders Lidén, chose the winners from 11 individual and seven institutional nominees from around the world. The Committee consists of 10 United Nations Member States, with UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, serving as its secretariat. The awards will be presented on Thursday, 22 May, at the United Nations, New York.
Dame Billie Antoinette Miller was Senior Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados until early 2008. An attorney by profession, Dame Miller was elected Member of Parliament in 1976 and was the first woman to be named minister in Barbados. She has held a number of ministerial portfolios, including those of health and national insurance; education and culture; foreign affairs and international business; and tourism and international transport.
Dame Miller has been promoting population and gender issues in many capacities, having served as Chair of the NGO Planning Committee for the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994) and as President of the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region. She was also President of the Board of Directors of the Inter-American Parliamentary Group on Population and Development, and Chair of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. As such, during its 50th anniversary celebrations in 2004, the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region honoured Dame Miller for her lifelong contributions to sexual and reproductive health.
The other winner, FCI, was established in New York in 1986 in response to new evidence showing that maternal mortality was a leading cause of death of women in their childbearing years in developing countries. Since then, FCI has been helping to make pregnancy and childbirth safer in these countries by promoting sexual and reproductive health for adolescents and by supporting safe motherhood. It also works to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Working with partners through its field offices in Africa and Latin America, FCI has been involved in a wide range of activities, including capacity-building and advocacy, in addition to the production of educational and informational materials that have been disseminated broadly. In October 2007, FCI co-organized the Women Deliver conference in London that reframed maternal health as a development issue. Attended by around 2,000 participants, including cabinet ministers and lawmakers from 110 countries, the event generated new global commitments to maternal health.
The Economic and Social Council elects members of the Award Committee for three-year terms. They are currently the United Nations representatives of Algeria, Bangladesh, the Czech Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Iran, Malaysia, Peru, Sweden and Tanzania. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid are ex-officio members.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.
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