I have just held my speech at the 125th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, in Bern. My speech was held in the Third Standing Committee concerning ”Access to health as a basic right: the role of parliaments in addressing key challenges to securing the health of women and children”.
Many countries talked about the excellent helthcare they have – but still they have too high numbers of deaths related to pregnancy and child birth. I was one of very few who spoke about the right to have qualified health staff, including midwives, the right to sexual education, the right to contraception and the right to safe and free abortion. It seems to be too contraversal and uncomfortable to address the real problem – the lack of human rights. Instead my fellow collegues from 157 countries seem to talk more about their excellent health system than the lack of human rights, every girl and women’s right to their own body and life.
Still I am happy that I got warm applause for my speech. I take that as a proof that many of my colleagues agrees with me.
I enclose my speech:
I would like to take this opportunity to underline the horrific fact that every day approximately 1000 women and girls die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. That adds up to about 350 000 deaths each year. This is a higher figure than tuberculosis and malaria combined. Most of these deaths are totally unnecessary.
Meassures that would prevent or treat pregnancy related complications have been well known for decades, but is still inaccessible for girls and women living in this world, in the year of 2011.
Every minute one woman dies or is seriously injured, while giving birth.
These deaths could have been prevented with adequate prenatal care and using trained personnel during childbirth, especially midwives. If the right to contraception and the right to safe and free abortion was a reality then thousands and thousands of lives could be saved.
Unfortunately some of the efforts to prevent maternal mortality in the world are controversial and uncomfortable in many countries. Because of this the deaths in connection with pregnancy, childbirth and unsafe abortions kills and cripples women worldwide, particularly in the poorest countries and poorest communities. Too often religion, tradition and culture are used to limit and restrict the rights of women.
In the efforts to improve maternal health many partners must be involved, both internationally and nationally; governments, parliaments, private companies, NGOs, government agencies, universities and individual citizens.
A lot can be done to improve the situation for young people and something must be done. We have to strengthening the rights of young people to have information and sexual education, contraceptives and condoms, and not least right to safe abortion care when they so choose. Many governments and countries are investing in maternity health and family planning; contraception, counselling and safe childbirth for married women. At the same time early marriage and child birth, lack of information and sexual violence and abuse, are all violations of human rights, discrimination that claim the lives of thousands and thousands of young girls every year. This must change, NOW!
During my speech 2 more women have died. We are all parliamentarians. We do have the power. We can change. And it is time for change now.
Thank you for your attention,