Maternal and Newborn Health is a Feminist Issue

Today’s hugely important guest post is from one of the loveliest bloggers around – Kylie Hodges, who you can find over at Not Even A Bag of Sugar.

The Partnership for Maternal, Child and Newborn Health is a division of the World Health Organisation and they have asked me to shout far and wide about the Newborn 2013 conference.

I am so pleased to be writing for Dorkymum, a personal hero of mine, and someone who has given me much love and support in the time she has been blogging.

This conference is to discuss what we can do to help more babies be born safely and to live. Some countries have unacceptably high levels of infant mortality. That is high rates of baby deaths.

Talking about the death of a baby is hard. Many of us have been touched by the story of Matilda, Jennie at Edspire’s beloved daughter who died inexplicably at 9 months old.

But, for many mothers, such deaths are routine, and that’s wrong. There are many, many mothers with more dead children than live ones.

For we live in a world where, in many countries, women are way down the bottom of the pecking order. Women are getting married when just children, a major risk for preterm birth and other birth problems. Women work gruellingly hard to raise crops, fetch water, look after their families. Women are often the last to be fed, whilst their men get the more nutritious food. Poor nutrition is a major cause of stillbirth, miscarriage, preterm birth or complications for both the woman and the baby, and clearly makes breastfeeding difficult.

Women are often locked out of the decision making process. Not just high level stuff like voting or running for office, everyday things, like being allowed to consult a doctor or take contraception. They are often locked out of basic education so don’t know how to live a healthy safe life.

This is the 21st century, and women, in many parts of the world, do not have basic human rights. And this, directly, has an impact on their children, and so it goes on.

It’s so easy to be complacent, and I am the first to admit I get caught up in the day to day pressures of bringing up my son, taking care of my family, working at my job and writing my blog. But this is important.

Our voices need to be heard. We need to shout loudly, and together so that things can change, and that that change is permanent. Babies are dying because we are not doing a good enough job of empowering our sisters.

Newborn 2013 is a great opportunity to be heard. I have been involved with the PMNCH many times, and I know they are just itching to hear the voices of women, of mothers from the UK and beyond, to make the world take notice of these issues.

Join me.

6 responses

  1. I hope you don’t mind, but I just wanted to put in a good word for Maternity Worldwide- they are an amazing charity that work tirelessly to provide proper maternal care for mothers in developing countries during both pregnancy and childbirth. They also have some amazing, fun ways that you can help them.

  2. Thank you, Kylie and Dorkymum, for this important post. I will be following the conference on Twitter and looking for ways to help raise awareness.

  3. Thanks. I’ll be following om Twitter too. Yes, it’s easy to forget how privileged we are, and what we take for granted. Hard too sometimes to know how best to make a positive difference.

  4. This is a fantastic and well informed post – it is so easy to get caught up in your own sphere and forget the massive massive issues there are in the world and thus high infant mortality. A real concern is the young age many girls get married and the expectation that they will give birth quickly – education and awareness could really help reduce the risks. I will be watching this with great interest, Bee x

  5. Pingback: Maternal and Newborn Health is a Feminist Issue

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