I received a request from Amnesty International requesting support for women in Sierra Leone. It fits in with 3 of the Millennium Development Goals 3. Gender Equity 4. Child Health 5. Maternal Health .
One in eight Sierra Leonean women die giving birth. Health care facilities are understaffed, lack basic equipment and medicines and are far from people's homes. Pregnant women and their families struggle to afford the costs of getting to a hospital and the costs of the care they would receive there.
- A higher proportion of women in Sierra Leone die in childbirth and pregnancy than almost anywhere else in the world
- Women and their families are forced to negotiate and pay for equipment and medications, and provide their own food and water, while they're in a health facility, at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives
- Most people live far away from a medical facility and cannot afford transportation costs to a hospital or doctor
So I signed the letter the following letter to help make sure that no more lives are cut short. Urge Sierra Leone's government to make maternal health a priority.
Dear President Koroma,
I am very distressed to hear of the high risks that women in Sierra Leone face in pregnancy and childbirth. I understand that more women in Sierra Leone die during childbirth than almost anywhere else in the world.
I respectfully urge you to make every effort to guarantee the health and well-being of pregnant women. Access to maternal health care services would be improved by allocating more money to health within the budget, by addressing the mismanagement of resources, by ensuring hospitals are better supplied and medical staff paid adequate salaries and by providing women and girls with information about their health and reproductive rights.
It is your duty as President to ensure that the right to life and the right to health of all Sierra Leonean women are respected and protected. The government of Sierra Leone should ensure that costs are not a barrier to essential health services, including emergency obstetric care and other reproductive health services.
What would be even better is empowering women to help themselves. The story and video below provide two examples, One from the Stand Up Take Action Campaign and one from Care. It is only natural that I use it in a blogging post as this year the Stand Up Take Action End Poverty Now! event, taking place on October, 16th is intended to give a clear focus on holding governments accountable for improving the status of women and their rights.
“Stand Up provided a platform for me to bring together the voices of rural women to speak out about issues affecting them,” she said. “It provides an opportunity to empower rural women and ensure that they understand that they have the power to change their current circumstances through advocacy.”Monica organized the first-ever public anti-poverty rally in the Nyanza province, about 300 km outside Nairobi. The event was presided over by Ida Odinga, the wife of current Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga.“The rally was considered unusual because most public rallies in this area have been political and hosted by politicians looking for votes,” she said. “The public was therefore very happy that we were out to find common solutions for their problems.”