The U.S.-led invasion and then occupation of Iraq brought a sharp setback to the rights of women in that country, UNFPA head Thoraya Obaid tells IPS in an interview.
(By Thoraya Ahmed Obaid anf Theresa Shaver) Every minute of every day a woman dies in childbirth. Not from a disease that couldn't be cured. Or from complications that couldn't be treated. Almost always she dies because she didn't receive the most basic life-saving care, write Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Theresa Shaver, Director of The White Ribbon Alliance fro Safe Motherhood. While the advances of medical care antibiotics, better obstetric procedures and control of infections sent maternal death ratios plummeting in the 20th century in rich countries, complications in pregnancy and childbirth remain the leading killer of women in Africa and South Asia. This is despite numerous pledges by world leaders spanning two decades, and a commitment to work together to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goal 5 to improve maternal health, get universal access to reproductive health and reduce maternal death by 75 per cent by 2015. At current rates of change, this goal will not be met until 2076 at the earliest in Asia... and many years later in Africa. The tragedy of a mother lost, while shattering to every family, is not suffered equally by the rich and poor. Even though 15 per cent of pregnant women worldwide experience life-threatening complications, a woman's lifetime risk of dying from such complications is 1 in 26 in Africa, compared to 1 in 7300 in developed countries.
The Women Deliver conference held in London last week has reminded a lot of people in the world of healthcare how much more they need to deliver to make pregnancy and childbirth safer for women.
From September 14-16, world leaders will meet in New York to discuss the Millennium Development Goals, writes Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund. In this article, Obaid points out that the most successful developing countries in terms of economic growth, less poverty, longer lives, and healthier people were those with slower population growth. And that was achieved not by government directive but by helping ordinary men and women make their own decisions about how many children to have, and when. Now, reproductive health problems account for a third of the burden of disease among women of reproductive age (15-44) worldwide. In Africa, the figure is two thirds. Healthy people make better workers, better workers make stronger economies, and stronger economies allow people to live better and make good choices. Poor women have known this for a long time. To strengthen the Millennium Goals, the Millennium Project team has recommended a new target: universal access to reproductive health by 2015 to be achieved through the primary health care system. At this Summit, leaders will have an unprecedented chance to change women\'s lives, to end poverty, not just in their lifetimes, but in the next few years. And the women of the world will find out if their well-being is a priority or not.