The survival, health and well-being of women, children and adolescents are essential to ending extreme poverty, promoting development and resilience, and achieving all the SDGs. In recognition of this, the updatedGlobal Strategy sets out a vision, guiding principles, three objectives and a set of core targets, in line with the SDG framework. It identifies key actions and lays the groundwork for country led implementation planning. The Strategy is fully aligned with the priorities of the SDGs, and builds on the evidence of what is needed and what works. It encompasses all locations, social groups and settings, in particular marginalized, excluded and hard-to-reach communities.


By 2030, a world in which every woman, child and adolescent in every setting realizes their rights to physical and mental health and well-being, has social and economic opportunities, and is able to participate fully in shaping sustainable and prosperous societies.


The Global Strategy is guided by several well-established principles of global health and sustainable development. It is: country-led, universal, sustainable, human rights based, equity-driven, gender-responsive, evidence-informed, partnership-driven, people centred, community-owned and accountable to women, children and adolescents. All aspects of the Global Strategy are aligned with development effectiveness and humanitarian norms. As well as being important in their own right, human rights and gender equality are vital enablers for positive change (see Boxes 2 and 3).

The Global Strategy is rooted in established human rights treaties and commitments. Women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health are recognized as fundamental human rights in several international treaties such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It also builds on global-level consensus, including the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action; the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action agreed at the Fourth World Conference on Women; the United Nations Economic and Social Council Ministerial Review on Global Health; and the agreements of the Commission on the Status of Women.

Health is a human right under international law that is interdependent with, and indivisible from, other human rights. Key human rights interventions include those in the areas of policy and legislation, equality and non-discrimination, service delivery, participation, the underlying determinants of health, sociocultural, political and economic affairs, and accountability.

Implementation of the Global Strategy will be informed by the United Nations Statement of Common Understanding on Human Rights-Based Approaches to Development Cooperation and Programming. The Human Rights Council has also issued practical technical guidance to help countries apply human rights standards and principles in health programmes for women, children and adolescents. In addition to fulfilling legal obligations, there is evidence that using a human rights-based approach has a positive impact on women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health. Assessing the impact of human rights-based approaches, alongside impact assessments of health and sustainable development, can help improve implementation and accountability.

The Global Strategy recognizes the critical role of gender equality for women and girls to make informed choices about their health and to seek and receive services they want and need. Women, and others facing discrimination because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, often have unequal access to, and uptake of, basic health services and resources. Unequal gender norms and gender stereotypes also create biases in policies, institutions and programming, with grave consequences for effectiveness of services.

Removing discrimination in health-care settings, and ensuring women and adolescent girls are aware of their rights and are able to demand gendersensitive and stigma- and discrimination-free services, is fundamental. Furthermore, the collection of sex-disaggregated data and gendersensitive indicators is essential to monitoring and evaluating the results of health policies and programmes. Gender-responsive health policies and interventions require a thorough analysis of barriers to the achievement of women’s health, including other inequalities based on ethnicity, class, geographic location and sexual orientation or gender identity.41

Enabling environments for gender equality are inextricably linked to positive health and broader societal outcomes.42 Successful implementation of the Global Strategy requires an effective response to unequal gender norms and action to develop clear synergies and alignment across other sectors.


Survive, Thrive, Transform drive the Global Strategy. Its over-arching objectives are to end preventable mortality and enable women, children and adolescents to enjoy good health while playing a full role in contributing to transformative change and sustainable development.


The targets to be achieved by 2030 under each of the objectives are drawn from the targets for the SDGs (see Table 1). They build on the globally agreed goals and targets of specific strategies and action plans, many of which have been endorsed by Member States of the World Health Assembly in recent years.