Nursing Now Ambassador, Emilia Clarke says: “you have the power to drive change” in anniversary opening address

On 26th June, we celebrated the first anniversary since the launch of the #NightingaleChallenge. Over 2,500 people registered to attend our all-day virtual event with sessions led by global health experts. To open this online conference, Nursing Now Ambassador, Emilia Clarke gave a welcome address.

Read her speech and watch the opening session below.

Welcome everyone, I am so pleased to be here with you all today to mark the first year of the Nightingale Challenge, in this the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

As we navigate a particularly challenging time for global health, this year of celebrations is providing unprecedented hope that nurses and midwives will, at last, receive the recognition, support, and development they deserve. I am immensely proud of my work as a Nursing Now Ambassador and the opportunity this gives to support a global initiative that means so very much to me. Nurses have held my hand through my darkest days and led me down the long road to recovery. I am forever grateful for the unconditional kindness, care, and compassion I have been shown in every one of these moments.

I believe passionately in the need to raise the profile and status of nursing to give everyone, everywhere access to quality, people-centred healthcare services. Nursing holds the key to meeting many of the changing health needs of the 21st Century. And by investing in the profession, we can not only improve health but also speed progress towards gender equality and help strengthen local economies.

It is an honour to be part of Nursing Now’s inspired movement and to support nurses to lead, to learn and to strengthen the profession around the world. With nearly 28 million nurses globally, you truly have the power to drive change. The Nightingale Challenge harnesses this by bringing nurses and midwives together in global citizenship and collaboration. It marks out these professions as the backbone of the world’s primary health-care systems and recognises that current national problems cannot be tackled in isolation if we are to achieve Universal Health Coverage and meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

Earlier this year, the first-ever State of the World’s Nursing report was launched. This report urges governments and stakeholders to strengthen nurse leadership – both current and future leaders – to ensure that nurses have an influential role in health policy formulation and decision-making, and contribute to the effectiveness of health and social care systems. That’s why the Nightingale Challenge has come at such a critical moment. The movement is helping to empower a generation of emerging leaders from the nursing and midwifery professions by creating very real opportunities for them to step up and own their roles as agents of change – in their own lives, jobs, communities and the wider world.

It is exciting to know that in this the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, more than 740 employers and organisations have accepted the challenge to provide leadership training for early-career nurses and midwives. What a sound investment! Nurses and midwives have played a vital role in responding to COVID-19. Now, more than ever, it is essential that governments around the world invest in the nursing and midwifery leaders of tomorrow, and that employers engage and prepare them for the global health challenges that are to come. With nearly 30,000 early career nurses and midwives from over 70 countries around the world enrolled in Nightingale Challenge programmes, I think we have every reason to be optimistic.

From the bottom of my heart, I applaud your courage, bravery, compassion, and resolute commitment to transforming how we treat and care for patients the world over. And I ask you to clap yourselves, for in your hands lie solutions to the health challenges we face now and in the future. I wish you all a wonderful conference and every success in your career and journey into leadership.

Watch the opening session of our Nightingale Challenge conference, here.