International Women’s Day 2021: choose to challenge!

An equal future for women begins with their surviving pregnancy and childbirth. It is unacceptable that women still die unnecessarily from childbirth.

On International Women’s Day, SAHFA thinks of the (hundreds of) millions of girls and women in rural, underserviced regions whose lives are repeatedly at risk because motherhood is too easily mortal for them, or leaves them with lifelong disabilities. As long as a mother can still die from giving life, there is no equality between the parents of the child to be born.

Though great progress has been made to reduce infant mortality, maternal mortality is not decreasing at the same pace: it stagnates or even worsens! If women are to become leaders, they must survive giving life!

If girls are to have equal chances with boys, they must be allowed to attend school safe from sexual harassment which disturbs their studies and may brutally halt their education if they are made pregnant. If a mother dies in childbirth, it is her teenage daughter who will have to drop out from school to help raise her siblings.

The inferior status of women is the underlying cause for this fundamental inequality in the right to life to persist. Therefore this year on International Women’s day, we reflect on women’s leadership.

At SAHFA, we have chosen to challenge how maternal mortality is addressed. We believe that women should be the leaders of their pregnancy and childbirth. And this starts with having access to quality information, about their pregnancy and access to quality care from respectful, well-trained health care providers.

SAHFA has designed a smart tool to empower pregnant women to understand and manage their pregnancy and plans to design a smart tool for girls and young women to understand and manage their reproductive health. Apps with relevant information and connecting them with respectful, well-trained health care providers.

JamboMama! can save the lives of both mothers and (unborn) children by improved knowledge and communication about pregnancy and childbirth and making prompt and adequate action possible. It is also a great opportunity to make a start with digital literacy in rural areas and overcoming gender based inequality so marked in traditional rural society and which is a root cause of persistent high maternal mortality. And it draws men, into sharing the responsibility (and the fun!) of taking good care of the pregnancy for a healthy and happy outcome for mother and child.

JamboMama! brings digital literacy to the villages, addressing women as the main target group. This is a great leap forward on the road to gender equality in access to human rights, the first of which is the right to life.

The right to respect, to be enabled to give informed consent and make informed decisions with relevant knowledge and information are rights in themselves, but also greatly contribute to safe motherhood with healthier happier outcomes for both mother and child. And what a present to the siblings of the newborn when their mother survives!

As Dr Himansu Basu says : when a mother dies, a child cries. So SAHFA says yes to giving an equal future to women by safer motherhood for all, everywhere, always. Happy International Women’s Day!

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