While much of the world is facing a global financial crisis, made worse by government cuts in social spending, members of parliament meeting here Wednesday agreed the economic crunch is no reason for governments to relax their commitment to women’s reproductive rights and health, made 18 years ago.
Three years ago, the African Union began a continent-wide campaign to reduce the number of women who die when pregnant or giving birth.
Have women around the world become more empowered in their reproductive health and rights over the past 18 years? This is one of the questions that some 300 parliamentarians from around the world will be examining when they meet in Istanbul, Turkey, this week for the Fifth International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) programme of action.
The statistics have remained staggering: every two minutes, a woman dies of pregnancy and child birth-related complications caused primarily by severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure and unsafe abortions.
For over 90 years, a law in Argentina has allowed women who become pregnant as a result of rape to have an abortion. However, hospitals often refuse to carry out the procedure, instead referring the women to the justice system.
The Garissa Maternal Shelter in North Eastern Province, Kenya is the only such facility in an area with the country’s highest maternal mortality rate. At 1,000 deaths per 100,000 live births, it is almost double the country’s average.
Gender champions have lauded the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness for providing gender equality and the empowerment of women a special session, but there is dissatisfaction with Thursday’s Busan outcome document.
Although there has been considerable progress towards reducing maternal and infant mortality, millions of women and children in Africa are still in need of better health services, food and sanitation.
In Mbedza village, a remote rural community in southern Malawi, Fedson Feston beams an infant’s awkward smile and swings his tiny arms up towards the face of his mother. Four months old, Fedson is too young to know how lucky he is to be alive.
When Adnan Nevic was born in Bosnia-Herzegovina back in October 1999, he was hailed as the world's six billionth person, triggering a visit to Sarajevo by then Secretary- General Kofi Annan.
Pakistan’s population explosion is posing a greater danger than militancy and religious intolerance, says noted medical doctor and demographer Farid Midhet.
Mary Mingle thought she had a boil on her breast, so she bought some medication and tried to treat it at home. Two months later, bothered by persistent pain, she went to the doctor.
A newborn baby dies every four minutes in Pakistan. It was not always so. With a sound population policy set out in the 1950s, Pakistan was second only to Sri Lanka in infant and neonatal survival rates during the 1960s and 1970s (compared to Bangladesh, India, Iran and Nepal).
"Every quarter, more than a hundred women with fistulas - including many younger than 20 years old - are admitted for surgery in Maniema province," says nurse Julie Mawazo. "The number of affected women who don't have the means or awareness to come in must be far greater."
Political, private sector and civil society leaders from around the world gathered here on Tuesday to recommit to a year-old initiative, Every Woman Every Child, which aims to prevent 16 million maternal and child deaths by 2015.