Imagine traveling for almost an entire day in the blistering sun, carrying all your possessions with you. Imagine fleeing in the middle of the night as airstrikes reduce your village to rubble. Imagine arriving in a makeshift refugee camp where there is no running water, no bathrooms and hardly any food. Now imagine making that journey as a pregnant woman.
Twenty-five-year-old Khemwanti Pradhan is a ‘Mitanin’ – a trained and accredited community health worker – based in the Nagarbeda village of the Bastar region in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh.
Diouma Tine is a 50-year-old vegetable seller and a mother of six boys. In her native Senegal, she tells IPS, motherhood isn’t a choice. “If you’re married, then you must have children. If you don’t, then you don’t get to stay in your husband’s house, and no one will respect you.”
Seven months pregnant, 24-year-old Shumi Begum has travelled 220 km from her village with her paternal grandmother to consult a specialist on childbirth.
Thirty-year-old Shahida Saleem, who was not educated past the tenth grade, is a mother of two, living with her family in Karachi. Six months ago she suffered a miscarriage and her doctor, concerned about her anaemic condition, advised her to space out her next pregnancy by taking contraceptives.
In most developing countries, where a woman gives birth still determines whether she lives or dies, despite the availability of inexpensive new medication that is proven to save lives.
When Philippines President Benigno Aquino III delivered his annual state of the union address in July, he appealed to the country’s lawmakers to break a deadlock on progressive birth control laws in this predominantly Catholic nation.
“This is just a trailer of the horror that awaits us,” says noted demographer Farid Midhet, referring to Pakistan’s bulging population and the possibly corresponding link to rising crime, including murders, robberies, rioting and extremist activity.
Women’s rights champions are not prepared to let the dust settle on the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness that ended in this South Korean port city on Dec. 1 with the customary nod towards gender equality and empowerment.
Women toil in the fields for most of their lives producing food and strengthening the largely agricultural economy of African countries, but when their fathers, husbands or older sons die, they are no longer welcome on land they may have tended for years.