CSW59: Day 2- Issues of maternal health unpacked by Nyasha Mazango

Date: March 11, 2015
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Today I was at the UN Church Centre at 9:30am. I attended a session on sexual reproductive health rights programmes spearheaded by the United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe and the Latin American and Caribbean Region. Presentations highlighted that there is no family planning in the Latin American and Caribbean Regions. In Zimbabwe the representative of UMC had programmes going and shared lessons learnt. It was clear that the Zimbabwean government with its Village Health Workers programme have created a community based facility which stand in for government to provide sexual health care services. But village women who are supposed to receive the education argue that the village health workers were not being paid for more than three months.

A number of issues deter young mothers from accessing maternal care. It was discussed that men force themselves on women and when they report it they will not have someone to take care of their child. It was highlighted by the African region presenter that there is need to grow crops for food and understand the herbal and medicinal benefit of other plants in their local area.

For instance there are shelters in Zimbabwe yet women still give birth in the home as these are not resourced. Women have no knowledge or they are unable to access knowledge on how they can use these shelters. It was concluded that pre-natal health is too expensive in today’s life and there is need to invest in it.

Experiences form the Latin America and Caribbean region has reduced maternal health problems. Pregnancy remain one of the issue that causing maternal death. She shared with us that q 14 year old became pregnant and her father threatened to kill and she in turn hanged herself.

The question asked was then what can be done to stop this. I understood from the presentation that the problems of SRHR span across the regions and continents. Lack of access to sexual and reproductive services is widespread.

In another presentation, I learnt that the church is working in conflict zones. Girls between the ages of 12-18 were forced to have sex with the military groups. The militants would demand the girls from their parents, “Today I want your daughter for the night.” It is frustrating to learn that there are governments that do not protect their own girls and women from this crisis.

Furthermore, no health care is provided to women and the services are 24 hours away. The UMC helped with birth control and family planning. It was upsetting to learn that the Columbian government did not have any form of pre-natal care The church is working with women in SRHR, nutrition and educational information dissemination.

In Bolivia, mothers die because they give birth on their own with access to nothing. Women receive no access, 130/1000 deaths every time. Women do not know their rights and cannot defend them in any case. So I realised that women just want practical information to take care of their health instead of infrastructure that is far away from them. It was therefore necessary to include the young girls and mothers with various problems in the different programs than to exclude until they become mothers.
We must create an enabling environment for women and girls to access maternal health care as there are disturbing rates of maternal death in different countries.

At lunch we went out and bought kebab and it was something that we were wondering, how come its men selling the food /kebabs here around the CSW venue and women are not near their space. Every space with economic benefit is dominated by men even here at the UN Park! Well, we have a long way to go.

Nyasha Mazango is one of the 2014 SADC Gender Protocol Summit winners, visiting and blogging about CSW59 as part of her prize for being a gender driver of change in her community.


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