Heartened by the passage of a same-sex marriage law in Argentina, women's organisations in this South American country stepped up their demands for the legalisation of abortion, on the Day for the Decriminalisation of Abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The number of pregnant women being tested for HIV and accessing treatment in Sub-Saharan Africa has shown significant progress – indicating that virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission of the virus by 2015 is possible.
Although the world will miss the 2010 deadline for universal access to HIV treatment, some countries, notably in sub- Saharan Africa, have made real strides forward, three United Nations agencies reported Tuesday.
In Ntcheu, a rural district in central Malawi, villagers have taken the fight against the country's high maternal mortality rate into their own hands. They have almost eradicated maternal deaths in the area by urging pregnant women to give birth in hospitals, under medical supervision.
As a three-day anti-poverty talkfest drew to a close Wednesday, the United Nations shifted its focus from the poor and the hungry to two of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in society: women and children.
Mercy Freeman sits on a small hospital cot in one of Liberia’s emergency hospitals, looking down at her frail son, whose dark eye sockets have sunk into his bony face.
The floods that have submerged one-fifth of Pakistan have begun to recede, but the crisis has brought to light one of the country’s hidden miseries: the plight of mothers, who are dying in tens of thousands each year.
All eight of the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are critical to development, but numbers four and five on child and maternal health are the real priority areas for this year. That was the main takeaway from a series of briefings with U.N., NGO and country officials in which IPS participated this week.
Experts worry that African governments are failing to take the threat of HIV seriously enough by not dedicating enough of their resources to prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) efforts.
"Herding goats is tough with the thirst, sun, loneliness and hunger each day. And it can last forever. You herd as a girl, then as a wife, as a pregnant woman, as a mother and even as a grandmother," says Rukia Ibrahim whose 13-year-old younger sister was married off to a herdsman.
As darkness falls on a cool evening in Luanda, a group of women sit huddled under threadbare blankets outside one of the city’s few maternity hospitals. "I have to be here," Paula Silva, 45, said, shivering slightly.
"An HIV-positive woman must never be encouraged to breastfeed because regardless of what the doctors or researchers say - it is too dangerous for the baby," says Koziba Kelatlhe an HIV-positive mother who was advised by health workers not to breastfeed her child.
Aid groups and U.N. agencies are raising the alarm over the vulnerability of pregnant women and babies in flood ravaged Pakistan.
Irene Wangolo was advised to undergo an HIV test during her antenatal visit and to return to the clinic with her husband so they could be counselled on preventing HIV transmission to their unborn baby. But her husband refused to accompany her saying it was not his business and Wangolo never returned to the clinic in Bungokho in eastern Uganda. So she missed all the services, including the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).
Kenyans are still euphoric over the referendum endorsing a progressive new constitution; but the heat generated by its opponents around their main rallying point - abortion rights - is a reminder of the wide gap between law and implementation in Africa, particularly when it concerns women's rights.
Kenyans can now save towards the cost of childbirth at the country's largest maternal hospital thanks to a medical smart card system.
Banita’s heart sank when she first saw her prematurely born twin girls. One weighed 500 grammes and the other 700 grammes, both way below the 2.5-kilogramme benchmark for low-birthweight newborns. But their clenched, coin-sized fists seemed to show they were clinging to life. "There is hope," said the local doctor.
Dr Geoffrey Kasembeli says he worked almost seven years without a day off: that's how severe the shortage of obstetricians and gynaecologists in Kenya is. A similar situation prevails across the continent, a symptom of the weakness of reproductive health care in Africa.
Jubilant supporters say it is a new dawn for Kenya. Sixty-seven percent of votes cast endorsed a new constitution more than two decades after reform was first raised.
Precious Nabwire nearly died giving birth to her fourth child. If Kenyan gynaecologists have their way, a drug to control bleeding after childbirth will be licensed, offering greater protection to tens of thousands of women facing similar danger.
An arrow points the way from a busy street along a rough pathway; visitors clutch their bags more closely. The door is open: sachets are displayed on the table with labels indicating treatment for ulcers, diabetes, hypertension, fibroids. But not the contraceptive pill IPS is looking for.