Can we put a worth on women?

This is coming a bit late, but is a relevant issue every day
During Christmas Day, 16 women died of pregnacy-related causes in Malawi.. At the global scale one woman will die every minute due to complications in childbirth or during pregnancy.
Having just had my first grandchild born in the general hospital in Edinburgh, on December 12, with all the care, love and attention from the staff, that such a miracle deserves, this nightmare of human suffering must stop. It is a never ending succession of human rights violations and we have to realize and recognize it as just that.
An undignified and unjust reality which disturbingly alarms us, who have been privileged to experiencing the joyful and prosperous day of a successful childbirth, to neither accept nor allow this day,– or tomorrow, to be passing in silence – on behalf of these women.
In June 2009 (UN) member states recognized that “the unacceptable high global rate of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity is a health, development and human rights challenge; NO it’s a crime, so, let us just start agreeing that the lives of pregnant women in Malawi, are worth something.
What amazes me in Malawi is that everyone talks constantly about gender equality, but as with most things never relate it to the concrete, but, of course, the victims are poor, powerless and female. Vice President, Joyce Banda states outspokenly that “the situation would be different if men were giving birth too”.
I have great respect for Joyce Banda, a powerful women’s role model, but I’m bemused by three recent decisions of her Government.
The banning of traditional birth attendants. While realizing that there are some scary cultural practices, I feel that working with Traditional authorities and registering and training TBA’s would have been a much better interim measure. She must realize that they have neither the hospitals, staff, or transport to bring all mothers to hospital and the recent lack of Forex and the indications of donors withholding funds augers poorly for this notion. Many countries have excellent networks of midwife/carers who can cope with the easier childbirths.
Her Statement that “Every woman must deliver in hospitals and should arrive six weeks before her expected delivery date in order to prevent delays,” This is a wonderful ideal which would be difficult even in the most developed countries with good healthcare. But, in Malawi pregnant women probably have many children at home. Who will feed them, who will carry water, firewood, till, harvest and generally replace her not to mention where would they stay and who would feed them, some of whom would be very distant from home. If feel that in anyone’s language, this idea may be unworkable and need a rethink.
Making student nurses pay for their education without any subsidy: The previous two points are predicated by the idea that huge numbers of extra healthcare staff would be needed, but this year a first year nurse must pay 355000 MKw (€1700) for their training. This flies in the face of all the huge billboard advertising last year about how many nurses were needed, that they were angels and how well we should look after them. This year, I’m told that only about 30% of the nursing places have been taken up and many will drop out after the first term as a result of their inability to pay. This may equate to over €100,000 euro in Ireland. Imagine the rebellion that would cause.
Vice President Banda became the country’s Goodwill Ambassador for Safe Motherhood on August 7, 2009 . The African Union,has talked a lot about Malawian women, stating that: “maternal mortality is preventable, we know the formula, we know what to do and the deaths can be reduced drastically. She is talking the talk, but has still to manage the synchronized walking. But she is a powerful woman and I feel that she really cares.
Political will is not enough, serious action is needed. My feeling is the future of Malawi is with it’s women, so what are their lives worth and who cares.


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