Taking Control of Our Bodies- The Enduring Issue of Maternal Mortality

Women around the world are playing their
part. Are you? Way to go Burkina Faso for playing their part! A campaign to end
maternal mortality was kicked off last week in Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso, one
of the world’s poorest countries in West Africa has struggled with a serious
maternal mortality issue. However, this can and will soon change. According to
an Amnesty International report more than 2,000 women die annually from
complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Women in this West African
country are not given the access to adequate health care.  Forced
marriage, genital mutilation, polygamy, early marriage and pregnancy all
contribute to the high rate of maternal death, said Gaetan Mootoo, co-author of
the report.

Women around the world are slowly realizing
the importance of their health. "Maternal death is a tragedy that robs
thousands of families of wives, mothers, sisters and daughters each year,"
said Amnesty’s Claudio Cordone. This issue is preventable and should be a major
priority However, maternal mortality has been a major issue in many developing
countries. The campaign in Bukina Faso intends to end maternal mortality by
improving access to family planning and removing financial obstacles which
limit access to maternal health services. We must give thumbs up to these
small, but powerful campaigns. It is 2010 and we are still dealing with issues
that target women and only women. It is almost as if women are facing the death
penalty when faced with pregnancy or giving birth. Of course each pregnancy is
a risk, but why is it such a risk in other countries? Why is it each minute a
woman dies from an issue that is so preventable? We can’t keep using access to
health care and financial obligations as an excuse to overlook this extreme
issue. All women are obligated to have a safe and healthy pregnancy and
childbirth. We must look at the bigger scope of the issue. Training birth
attendants, spreading awareness about family planning, and understanding the
woman’s culture are all extremely important. These vital issues should not be

Maternal mortality will continue to
kill women one by one if women are not given the option to control their own
bodies. Women must be taught to stand on their own two feet and make a stance
for their health. It is important that each woman does her part to combat this
plaguing issue. It is time that we as women stand up and take control of our
bodies! Way to go to the women in Burkina Faso!


Mortality Rates, 2008



Source: UNICEF, Progress for Children: A Report Card on
Maternal Mortality, 2008

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact press@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • donnabee52

    For many years, across the world maternal death has been considered the norm – an issue associated with child bearing, regardless of age. It has been well documented that women who receive proper and early care during pregnancy have lower incidences of death.

    Women, globally have the right to proper care during pregnancy. Women around the world have the right to control their own bodies, both physically and mentally. Yes, it is time that all women take control of their bodies. I also applaud the women of BURKINA FASO for standing up and taking control of what is their’s.

  • carab

    All women are entitled to a safe and healthy pregnancy. Women are also entitled to making the decision for themselves on what to do with their bodies. Access to affordable family planning and education is critical. Access to safe and legal abortions is also vital for those who choose. In too many of the countries with the highest maternal mortality rates is abortion illegal. I have seen first hand in Peru, a country where abortion is illegal, the results of these policies. Women who access back-alley abortions not only kill their baby but themselves, leaving entire families devastated. I hope that more women are able to take control of their bodies as the women in Burkina Faso have begun to do!!

  • freshtamohammad

    Only in the recent years we have seen a trend of viewing maternal mortality as an issue of human rights. Maternal mortality is the failure to give effect to the rights of women to health, equality, and non-discrimination. Maternal mortality also presents a violation of the human rights article 3, which endows everyone with the right to life. Despite these recent trends, the progress to deal with this issue has been disappointing. I also agree that it is time we make a united stand against this issue to promise a better future for the next generations of women.

  • chris1701a

    As an older male in my thirties I am amazed of the results facing women and this curable condition. For the longest time I did not worry too much about my health because I thought I knew my body and I kind of took comfort with that. So after I got involved in a relationship I started taking more care of myself and getting physicals after a ten year absence. Lucky enough, I was cleared with a clean bill of health. So as I was reading this blog concerning Maternal Mortality and how it is easily curable I starting thinking why is it still an issue? As a male I am aware that unfortunately it cost money to cure. I hear about it everyday through articles and discussions with my girlfriend. I’ve have always looked at the future in a positive light, never negative even on a bad day. As an older male in my thirties who one day plans to get married and have children I’m sure men in another country are planning the same thing, but unfortunately this is a matter that may play a role in their future. I pray that no one has to be in that situation.

  • ndidi

    Yes, I definitely agree that maternal mortality in Africa overall can be a death sentence. I’m glad to see that Burkina Faso has taken the lead and I only hope that other places will follow suit and get on the bandwagon to mobilize women in their respective countries.

  • prathima

    Women definitely lack the power and their right for health has long been denied. The campaign in Burkina Faso is definitely a step taken towards women health and empowerment. But what lies ahead of this campaign? There are a lot of factors that need to be considered in this context like the attitudes, beliefs, poverty, unemployment, culture, government and infrastructure. In most of the developing countries there is scarcity for water, food, shelter and is home for some major pandemics. When all these issues are being dealt with, women and children being the minority population would definitely be ignored. The campaigns such as these would definitely bring an immediate upsurge but then is quickly forgotten. Once the media attention dies away from the issue no longer would people work on it. These countries never have a stable government and the policies that exist today are no longer viable tomorrow.
    Hence the problem has to be addressed at its grass root level. There needs to be a continuous effort that focuses on this vulnerable section of the community. Women empowerment and education need to be emphasized. A strong independent body for women health, education and empowerment has to be established. We as the public health professionals need to embrace a holistic approach to reduce these scoring numbers of Maternal Mortality. A lot is being debated, said and done on this pressing issue but a great deal more is yet to be achieved.

  • kpomeran

    Thanks for posting this.  I know little about maternal mortality and have started reading Amnesty’s report on Burkina Faso, which is heart wrenching.


    Prathima states that the campaign will generate interest that will soon fade without altering any fundamental conditions that cause maternal mortality.  I agree.


    The Amnesty campaign appeals to corporations and those with power to respect the rights of women in Burkina Faso.  That seems pretty naive.  There are a gazillion human rights resolutions that governments sign and ignore.  Amnesty itself describes the problems with the donor banks and programs.  (For those interested in World Bank and IMF effects on women, see Gender Action at http://www.genderaction.org).


    If poverty and the oppression of women drive these enormous maternal mortality rates, what do you all think will end them?

  • gwmchstudents

    That is commendable that the women of Burkina Faso are taking a stand against maternal mortality. How heartbreaking this travesty of injustice continues even in this century. The effort will have to be ongoing and lawmakers, tribe, communities will have to be targeted. Consideration could possibly be given to have older men train young boys to learn to respect young girls and to teach them to become more respectful husbands. It will take not only the women taking a stand but the men as well.

  • sheresej

    I most certainly agree with the idea that change must be facilitated at the grassroots level in order to see real change. Nationwide campaigns are always a great way to spread awareness about an issue and attempt to educate people, however we have to develop innovative strategies to change perceptions and behaviors within communities. So, first we need to provide women and families with the basic necessities and educational opportunities they need to be healthy, productive citizens. Research has proven on numerous occasions how much of an impact education can have on a woman’s life. It should no longer be acceptable in today’s society for women to be so powerless and unhealthy to the point where they ultimately die because they can’t make their own reproductive decisions.

    My prayer is that it doesn’t take another natural disaster for people to realize that many countries in this world do not have the proper infrastructure and resources they need to live a decent life. We need to address poverty and continue to empower women around the globe whether it be as simple as a group of students traveling to another country to spend time teaching or as big as implementing global policies for which we will fight to keep at the top of political agendas. But, just giving up isn’t an option no matter how big the challenge.

  • mollyrose

    Thank you for this enlightening post. I liked the analogy of “It is almost as if women are facing the death penalty when faced with pregnancy or giving birth.” I also agree with the fact that we need to get men and young boys on board with campaigns to end maternal mortality and address issues that are specific to women. Men must see this issue as a threat not only to their wives, mothers, and girlfriends, but as a threat to their families and their own overall health and well-being. The fight to end maternal mortality is strengthened by women like those in Burkina Faso who are not afraid to speak out. Imagine how much stronger the fight would be if men took a stand and spoke out on behalf of the women in their lives and in essence, on behalf of themselves?!

  • banshee52

    It seems as if in other countries women are not a top priority in any aspect therefore it does not amaze me that the mortality rate is so high in those countries. It would be nice if more support came from countries that consider themselves to be powerhouse countries, but that’s not likely. Most countries would prefer to invest in wars verses being pro life. Even when you look at other areas of procreation, sexual orientation, education for safe sex, these impoverished countries are not getting the job done and no other country is stepping in to help. Its almost like no one even cares that women and children are dying during the birthing process… or is that no one cares enough for women and their issues as a whole? It remains to be seen that the proper education tools pre pregnancy are being provided as well as the proper medical attention during birth being given. It’s a hurtful feeling to know that no country see’s it fit to do anything to help more regardless of how they might think maternal mortality helps keep the population numbers under some control.


  • shaynjack

    The women of Burkina Faso, are to be commended for taking control of their bodies. These efforts to lower maternal mortality rates across the globe will inturn reduce the rates of fetal and infant mortality. A healthy mother will have a healthier pregnancy and will give birth to healthier babies. In the future I hope to see these efforts include educating men on the importance of maternal health. I understand that often times the men in these situations are rapist or no where to be found. However this is not always the case. Young men and fathers who are present must be taught that the health of the mother is essential to the health of their child. My question is what can Americans to influence and encourage these efforts in other developing countries facing the same obstacles?