In an effort to save millions of newborn lives, we are urging all global leaders to take a stance this year and commit to a blueprint for change, namely, the Five Point Newborn Promise. This agenda focuses on training and equipping enough skilled healthcare workers to make sure no baby is born without proper help, and removing fees for all pregnancy and birth services.
I have just returned from a week in the Central African Republic (CAR). I was shocked by what I witnessed. Dead bodies littering the streets. Children shot and injured in the fighting. Hundreds of thousands of families driven into the bush by fear, living out in the open with no food or shelter. In the capital, thousands huddled around a monastery frightened for their lives. I will never forget the fear in the eyes of the children I met.
As I write this I'm looking out over the UN building in New York and its rows of flags from member nations. Right now world leaders are speaking at the annual UN General Assembly, discussing the issues that are most affecting their countries and the world as a whole. One issue that is central to this week is the ongoing Syria crisis; what I'm here to do is to make sure these leaders don't forget the voices of children caught up in this conflict.
Hearing about atrocities and suffering halfway across the world doesn't tend to hit close to home. The people feel distant and the language is foreign; it's too far. Standing at the edge of the Za'atari camp in Jordan listening to the sound of explosions from just across the border in Syria, suddenly it didn't feel so far anymore.
Today is Malala Day. Her 16th birthday. Less than a year ago she became a victim of an attack on education, when she was shot and almost fatally wounded by armed men on her way back from school. Her bravery has shone a light on the scale of the educational crisis the world still faces, as well as the struggle for a future faced by children living in areas affected by conflict. The situation in Syria typifies this struggle.
I've been working with Save the Children and have travelled to a few countries with them now including my mum's homeland, the Philippines. What I've seen there as well as elsewhere is why I'm writing this blog. It's the reason why when I look into my fridge, my cupboards or at my daughters' dinner plates, I remember the people I've met there. You see, I've seen real hunger. Here, when we say we're starving, we've usually missed a coffee break or are late on lunch. Over there, in the Philippines, Bangladesh and countless other countries, it's literally true and it's utterly devastating.
Getting a group of people to agree anything is hard. Ask a room full of people the best way to make a cup of tea and you'll get a phalanx of opinions. So imagine how hard it must be to get 27 people to agree priorities for the future of the world. And then imagine them all being from different countries, from diverse backgrounds and with distinct interests.
War still rages in Syria - a fact that we are too quick to forget. The second birthday of the crisis has long passed and resolution doesn't appear to be on the horizon. When Syria-related news does reach our media outlets and Twitter feeds, it usually focuses on chemical weapons or possible intervention by the US. There is little talk of the abhorrent humanitarian crisis, which deteriorates daily.
Story-telling lets us break down one of the other big misconceptions about aid, that it's colonial, a white man's hero mission. In every Save the Children programme that I've visited at least 90% of the staff are from that country and are passionate about what needs to happen to improve life for their fellow citizens.
A new report from Save the Children has revealed another dimension to this silent crisis, showing that children are bearing the brunt of sexual violence in war. It says that in current and former warzones from Sierra Leone to Liberia, Congo to Colombia, more than half of the victims of sexual violence are children.