#IntlMHDay: It’s time to make maternal health and rights a priority!

Posted on April 10, 2015  |  Related Issues: Maternal Health

by Rebecca Crawford, Program Associate

Women at the Center panel

"As a mother myself, a mother of four, as a woman, as a healthcare professional, I cannot afford not to be hopeful." 

– Dr. Yetnayet Asfaw, Vice President, Strategy & Impact, Engender Health

“Women at the Center: A Call for Maternal Health & Rights”, Washington, D.C., 4/9/15

Around the globe a movement is growing. Advocates and activists are elevating maternal health and rights as an international priority. Just this week we saw a groundswell of support from more than 1,800 organizations and individuals in 55+ countries building up to today’s celebration of the second International Day for Maternal Health and Rights on April 11. This week’s energy is just the latest marker of an exciting trend of maternal health advocacy, research, policies, and programs that promote access to rights-based care for women and girls. From initiatives like the STAHA project led by the Averting Maternal Death and Disability Program (AMDD) and the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania to USAID’s new Maternal Health Vision, there has been momentum for putting women at the center of maternal health.  

The issue of disrespect and abuse during childbirth has been a major driver of increased attention to maternal health and rights in recent years. Building on efforts to decrease maternal mortality and to increase quality of care, civil society organizations such as the White Ribbon Alliance have led the call for a new gold standard for respectful maternity care – a standard that, first and foremost, embraces, promotes, and responds to every woman’s human rights and health care needs.

Researchers, policymakers, implementers, health practitioners, and civil society from a wide range of sectors including HIV, family planning, and sexual health are joining this call and championing maternal health and rights. At the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) we stand in solidarity with these champions working for a world where every woman and girl has access to the highest possible standard of care.  And yet, as significant as progress for maternal health and rights has been, we know that now is not the time to let up

This year marks an exciting opportunity to further strengthen commitments to women and girls in the post-2015 agenda. By making women’s human rights a global priority, we can increase our impact and usher in new breakthroughs for maternal health. This means that, in the years to come, on future International Days for Maternal Health and Rights, we can celebrate not just the absence of maternal death or injury, but also women who thrive because they have access to a full range of maternal health services, because we have fully invested in their health care providers and systems, and, because their rights are respected. 

Join the Call to Action for an International Day for Maternal Health and Rights!

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