"I just gave birth on the ground...I had no drugs for pain during delivery," one Haitian mother tells Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report released Tuesday that says a year and a half after the country's devastating earthquake, women and girls are still facing gaps in access to available healthcare services necessary to stop preventable maternal and infant deaths.
Eighty thousand tiny houses dot the countryside near this coastal city, located just west of the epicentre of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake that killed some 200,000 and displaced over one million.
Marguerite Kassa feared she would find herself alone in the small crowd of a dozen other pregnant women at the integrated health centre in Mossendjo, in the southwestern Republic of Congo. "I am six months pregnant already, but I hesitated to come here before now, because there is so much contempt for us," the thirty-year-old indigenous woman tells IPS. "Yet I was warmly welcomed."
Only six sub-Saharan African countries have failed to reduce the number of women dying in childbirth over the last two decades. High-spending South Africa is among them, with maternal mortality rates more than quadrupling since 1990. Human Rights Watch researcher Agnes Odhiambo says this is largely due to a lack of accountability.
On the road between the Kenyan and Somali border lie the dead bodies of children who have succumbed to the famine and the hardships of making the journey from their drought-stricken villages to Kenya.
María José Aceituno, who works at a public relations firm in the Guatemalan capital, has two children and says she is not having any more, in order to safeguard the financial position and security of her family. "I would rather have two happy children than 10 who are dissatisfied," she said.
Mother of eight, Jessicah Foni, 36, hopes that independence will mean a hospital will soon be built in her village. Foni, who has travelled from a remote village in South Sudan to the state’s capital to celebrate independence, lost two babies at birth because of the lack of medical facilities in her area.
When Valente Inziku’s wife, Jennifer Anguko, went into labour they had decided she would go to the local referral hospital just to ensure a safe delivery.
There is a brief bustle and then a woman wails as the small body is wrapped in cloth and set on a cot by the door of the paediatric ward. Nurses in pristine white uniforms continue to pad quietly around the large room at Ola During Children's Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital city.
By 2015, women demanding family planning products and services in the developing world will likely reach 933 million, a terrific increase from the current 818 million women demanding access to these basic reproductive commodities.
Twenty women from four continents consider the words discussion leader Anne Schoenstein, of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), has written on a flip chart. She strikes out in blue ink a previous sentence. She begins writing a new one - a demand aimed at aid donors - dictated by Nurgul Djanaeva.
Just a week after a group of civil society organisations petitioned Uganda’s constitutional court demanding that the government’s non-provision of essential services for pregnant mothers was a violation of the right to life; Margaret Nabirye lost her baby in childbirth.
Argentina is moving backwards in terms of maternal mortality, with a rate three times higher than those of its neighbours Chile and Uruguay. Maternal deaths, which are actually increasing, are often the result of unsafe abortions, in a country where the practice is illegal.
For Janu, walking the streets to beg for alms is the only option for survival. After all, she has a two-year-old daughter to feed, and she herself, at 14 years old, is little more than a child.
Ahead of this month's G8 summit in France, parliamentarians from 35 countries have issued a strong call for leaders of the world's major economies to focus on the role of women and girls in development.
An estimated 2,555 women in Yemen die annually during childbirth because they do not have access to proper health facilities or experienced medical professionals.
Training of midwives in the active management of the third stage of labour targets one of the most common causes of maternal deaths: bleeding after delivery.
It was smooth sailing for 30-year-old Susan George throughout her pregnancy, until the day she went to give birth at the government hospital. Doctors told her they had to do a caesarean section because they could not wait for a normal delivery.
In a small women's clinic in the congested community of San Andres Bukid in the Philippine capital, a mother of 11 is availing herself of family planning services for the first time in her life.
Sub-Saharan African countries have claimed nine of the ten bottom places in a ranking of maternal health around the world. "The Mothers' Index", a new survey of motherhood by Save the Children, analyses health, education and economic conditions for women and children in 164 countries.
The United Nations is predicting that come Oct. 31, the world population will hit the seven billion mark - and keep expanding till it reaches 9.3 billion by the year 2050.