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Statement by the President of the Executive Board on behalf of the WEOG-group. In memory of Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, 6 June 2017 in New York

22.06.2017  00:37

(Check against delivery)

I would now like to make a statement on behalf of the WEOG Group.

The member states of the WEOG group are shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden passing away of Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin – a true leader and champion for girls’ and women’s health and rights. It is a great loss and our thoughts go to his family, friends, UNFPA staff and colleagues around the world.

The WEOG member states are strong partners to UNFPA. Since Dr. Osotimehin took over the post as Executive Director in 2011, we have enjoyed a close and fruitful collaboration and partnership with him. We have stood side by side in the global fight for the rights of women and girls to make decisions on matters related to their own bodies and lives. In this joint endeavour, we have time and again been impressed by Dr. Osotimehin’s in-depth knowledge and personal commitment to the advancement and protection of these goals.

Dr. Osotimehin took over as Executive Director in the years when the global community was focused on reaching the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. As we all know, we succeeded except for MDG 3 on maternal health. His deep knowledge of the situation of women and girls in many developing countries played a critical role in ensuring that these goals made it into the 2030-Agenda. However, Dr. Osotimehin understood better than anyone that real impact is not only shaped here in the
conference rooms and corridors of the UN Headquarters. He travelled around the world – even to the most remote places where he saw and experienced the realities on the ground of adolescents, youth and women who had been left behind. He challenged all of us to act upon the inequality and injustice he had experienced. He always championed the cause of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged girl and of the woman left furthest behind. His voice was their voices.

Adolescents and youth, girls and women have lost a leading champion and defender of their sexual and reproductive health.

I would like to end my statement with a quote from Dr. Osotimehin from our last Executive Board session in February. His clear message to us was that his agenda is our common agenda on which our collective future depends – namely, how we support 10-year old girls as they start their journey from adolescence to adulthood:

“Isn’t that what we all want? For every girl everywhere to be able to go to and stay in school; to be free from child marriage, teenage pregnancy and violence; to know and be able to exercise her rights, including her right to sexual and reproductive health; to be able to realize her full potential and help us build a better world. I know that’s what we all want. That’s what the 2030 Agenda is all about. And I know, together, we can make it happen”.

We stand ready to carry Dr. Osotimehin’s call to action forward. The 10 year old girl deserves it. The world deserves it. The legacy of Dr. Osotimehin will be remembered!

Thank you.