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Making the Joy of Motherhood real again for women in developing countries

Dear Ms Bachelet,

On my own behalf and that of the many women you represent in your new role, our most heartfelt welcome to you.
As you shape the role that this unit is expected to play in the coming days and years ahead, let me take this opportunity to bring to your attention the very devastating problem of maternal and neonatal mortality, especially in the developing world. Many times the statistics are thrown around, and many of us are at the stage where it doesn't raise any eyebrows anymore whether the rate is 452/100,000; 451/100,000 or 1/100,000. While all of these numbers are thrown around and debated, little is heard of the many women living the daily nightmare of having a gaping hole in their hearts for the loss of a dearly beloved and eagerly anticipated son or daughter that they lost to stillbirth, and many husbands are left to explain to their children why mommy failed to come home when she went to give birth to little brother or sister.

My point here is, it doesn't really matter which statistics is right or wrong. What we should be focusing on is " why do these women and babies die?" Its not far fetched that many of these deaths are preventable. In fact, many are occurring in hospitals in the full glare of health personnel who are either too overworked, too disillusioned or just do not care too hoots whether the labouring woman survives or dies. The reason being that in many of our health care facilities, there does not seem to be anyone in charge of ensuring that lives are saved. While poverty does play a role in that some facilities, medications, etc may be lacking, the real problem of lack of accountability in our healthcare delivery system means that many of us, especially labouring women who usually need immediate and skilled care bear the brunt of this "Nobody is in control" system. See examples of such cases at this link: http://www.vaahjuniorfoundation.org/48762.html

The unfortunate effect of this self fulfilling prophecy is that as many women hear of the horrifying experiences of people like the Dzifas at the above link, they shy away from the hospitals when in labour and end up with untrained and unskilled attendants. A recent report sponsored by the USAID titled 'Promoting Evidence and Action for Respectful Care at Birth" (see copy at this link: (http://www.vaahjuniorfoundation.org/respectfulcare_brochure.pdf) could not have overemphasized this phenomenon enough.

It is my hope that as we make the case for more funding for maternal and child health, we also champion the cause to make governments accountable for ensuring that providers in their various countries adhere to a set of standards especially when it comes to pre-natal, ante-natal, labour and delivery for women. Never again should women die or lose their babies to neglect and substandard care in health facilities. Its time to go beyond the raw numbers and find out the circumstances under which these women and babies die, remembering that behind each of these is a grieving mother, father, husband and children that could well be any one of us.

Thank you and welcome once again.
Elizabeth Alluah Vaah

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As the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women officially begins its work this month, World Pulse is asking women worldwide: What is YOUR vision and recommendation for UN Women? We invite you to raise your voice by writing a letter to UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet outlining your recommendation for how this new UN agency can truly affect change on the ground to promote gender equality and uphold the rights and needs of women both on a local and global scale.
Learn more: http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire/programs/international-violence-agai...

Comments

jadefrank's picture

Thank you!

Dearest Elizabeth,

Thank you so much for speaking up for women in Ghana and sharing your recommendations for the new UN Women agency, in placing women's maternal health at the top of the agenda. Your voice is so powerful!

I am currently working to compile your letters and share your voices with the GEAR Campaign, who have been working closely with UN Women to ensure the inclusion of civil society groups, and through the PulseWire community, grassroots women leaders, as they set their agenda. We will also be sending your letters directly to Michele Bachelet and other senior leaders of the newly formed UN agency, to demonstrate the effectiveness for sourcing opinion, knowledge and needs from the global grassroots women's movement through our online community. Through this, we hope to open a portal for our community to have a direct line of influence within the UN Women agency.

I will keep you updated on the progress of our campaign!

In friendship and solidarity,
Jade

lizvaah's picture

Thanks Jade. We are all in

Thanks Jade. We are all in this together. Our best wishes for this campaign.
Elizabeth

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