Third Standing Committee: Speech by Ms Ulrika Karlsson
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 360 000 deaths each year.
It is a shame that pregnancy, birth and newborn kills 20 000 human beings every day. This is a higher figure than Tuberculosis, Malaria and HIV/Aids combined.
But still 30 times more resources are allocated to combat Tuberculosis, Malaria and HIV/Aids than the resources to combat Maternal Mortality. Why is it so?
Every minute one woman dies, 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. Too often religion, tradition and culture are used to limit and restrict the rights of women.
I would like to thank the rapporteurs for the well drafted resolution. It is now our job to fill in what is missing.
Swedenhas submitted several amendments to the preliminary draft resolution. I especially want to underline the following:
In the draft resolution it is recognized that many pregnant women in the developing world are not attended to by a skilled health professional, and here we need to point out the importance of midwifes. Midwifes are in short supply in many developing countries and there is an urgent need, particularly in countries with high rates of maternal mortality, to give assistance to recruit, train and support professional midwifes. At least 350 000 midwifes are missing in the world. Therefore I am very thankful for the support submitted by the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians concerning the Swedish amendments on this matter.
Also we need to act on the lack of access to quality sexual and reproductive health services, including lack of access to contraceptives and realize that this is a major factor contributing to maternal mortality. I am also thankful for the support by the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians on the need for access to contraceptives and the need to ensure sex education.
We parliamentarians most work for sexual education for all young people – that is age-appropriate and gender sensitive.
We also have to note that unsafe abortions account for 13 percent of the total maternal mortality. To save lives of young girls and women we parliamentarians must work for decriminalization in countries where abortion is illegal. And we have to make sure that the abortions are safe.
In the efforts to improve maternal, political leadership is essential. We parliamentarians must step up and live up to the mandate given by the people. We are obligated to act and to prioritize protection of the lives of women and children. This is the core of human rights.
We live in a time when there are generally better options available – even in many developing countries – than to give birth under unacceptable and dangerous circumstances.
Dear Colleagues, during my speech 2 more women have died. We are all parliamentarians. We do have the power. We can change. It is our obligation. And it is time for change now.
Thank you for your attention!