With all due respect to the late President Bingu, his death opened a rare window for reform Malawi, and golden opportunity – especially for Malawi’s women. Joyce Banda is a widely respected and heralded champion for women’s rights and health, and has never been shy to speak her mind about it.
Last March, a landmark maternal health petition was filed in Uganda, aimed at holding the government accountable for the deaths of two women in childbirth. It garnered global media attention at the time, yet five months into the process momentum has stalled. When will it be time to women to take the front seat?
This year marked the first time in history that the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women did not produced Agreed Conclusions. The most contentious issues, not surprisingly, were related to women’s access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.
An article in yesterday’s New York Times suggesting that injectable contraceptive use might double the risk of HIV transmission among women in Africa sent waves of anxiety through the global public health community, leading some to ask whether we should halt delivery of injectables. But experts say: “Not so fast.”
Despite a landmark ruling five years ago – when Colombia’s Constitutional Court decriminalized abortion in cases of rape, fetal abnormality or to save the mother’s life – less than 0.5 percent of procedures are carried out legally each year.
In 2002, Alyne da Silva Pimentel, a 28-year-old Afro-Brazilian woman, died after being denied basic medical care to address complications in her pregnancy. Her death might be like any one of the other hundreds of thousands of women who die of complications of pregnancy or unsafe abortion each year worldwide, but for one thing: It was taken to court.
Thirty-eight of 58 countries surveyed may fail to meet their target of 95 percent coverage by skilled attendants by 2015 unless an additional 120,000 midwives are trained, deployed and retained. A new report also indicates that upgrading midwifery services could save more than 3.6 million lives each year by 2015.
It happens frequently when I meet someone new. We each say what work we do, and then he or she says, “You are a man. Why are you interested in family planning?”
If we can save mothers, we won’t just save their individual lives; we’ll help save their children’s lives, boost their children’s education rates, and maintain and even boost agricultural productivity.
Today, like every day, nearly 1000 women will die giving life; and many of their babies will not survive beyond the first hours and days after birth.