Month: September 2014

India’s Newborn Action Plan

Globally, 2.9 million newborns die within the first month of life. India, with a population totalling 17.5 percent of the global population, accounts for a startling 27 percent of the global newborn mortality rate with over 780,000 newborn deaths every year, the highest newborn mortality rate in the world. On September 17th, India launched its national Newborn Action Plan (INAP) to stop and reverse this disturbing trend. Based on the findings and strategies promoted in The Lancet’s Every Newborn series, INAP aims to reduce India’s newborn mortality rate from its current 29 deaths per 1,000 births to under 10 deaths per 1,000 births by 2030. In order to accomplish this goal, INAP focuses on improving the following six evidence-based, effective strategies: Preconception and antenatal care Care during labor and childbirth Immediate newborn care Care of healthy newborns Care of small and sick newborns Care beyond newborn survival Additionally, the issue of gendercide does not go ignored. Because a girl’s family traditionally must pay a dowry in order to marry, families – especially in poorer regions …

If You Treasure It, Measure It: #Commit2Deliver for Women and Girls

No country sends its soldiers to war to protect their country without seeing to it that they will return safely, and yet mankind for centuries has been sending women to battle to renew the human resource without protecting them. -Fred Sai, former President of the International Planned Parenthood Federation Pregnancy is the one of the leading causes of death for girls aged 15-19 in developing countries. Maternal and child mortality remains a big problem for many countries in Africa with young women even more vulnerable. However, almost all maternal deaths can be prevented, as evidenced by the huge disparities found between the richest and poorest countries. The lifetime risk of maternal death in industrialized countries is 1 in 4,000 in comparison to 1 in 51 in countries classified as ‘least developed.’ Why We Cannot Wait Mothers are the cornerstones of healthy societies. Not only do they give physical birth to new life, they give moral and intellectual guidance to children who will become productive members of society. A society where mothers are not valued and protected is is one …

The Experience Of An Inexperienced Man: Looking Back on The Menstrual Hygiene Day Campaign, 2014

Written by Ephraim Kisangala World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2014 was the first of its kind and celebrated by more than one hundred organisations world over. Being a member of Friends of IRISE-KIU Western Campus (FOI), I was privileged to have learnt about this subject prior to the day. We discussed in depth the issue of menstruation, activities we wanted for the day and also got training on making reusable sanitary pads. I do not remember when I first knew that women menstruate, but I am pretty sure it was during one of the biology lessons in high school. The lessons were plain, explaining just the science and cycle and nothing more. Comments on painful periods, cultural practices, menstrual hygiene or management were almost unheard of in class. The campaign started on a high note as the entire team was eager to engage in activities aimed at empowering and educating the community on breaking the silence around menstruation. The FOI team consisted of several other student bodies including Federation of African Medical Students’ Associations (FAMSA) and …

We Want Commitment and Action: #ShowYourSelfie for Youth!

Today, a day before the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, New York City, the Action Summit took place, giving global citizens the possibility to engage in conversations around some of the most important development priorities: sanitation, education, global health and women and girls. I had the great opportunity to speak about why the rights of women and girls must be fulfilled in order to reach any other development goals and end extreme poverty. For those of you who who may not know, I am pregnant. I was born in a country where there is access to good quality healthcare. Because of this fact, I have not had to worry about the baby growing inside of my belly or risk dying during childbirth. Yet during the past hour almost 35 women and girls have died due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth – that’s 300 000 a year! Did you know that the most common cause of death for teenage girls in the least developed countries is just that – complications during pregnancy and childbirth? 1 in 3 …

#Commit2Deliver: Maternal and Child Health

Tomorrow marks 460 days to achieve the  Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Let’s focus on MDGs 4, 5, and 6: aimed at improving maternal and child health. Here are the statistics:  6+ million children under five years old die each year. Only half of women in developing nations receive healthcare during pregnancy. In 2012, Malaria killed an estimated 627,000 people but 3.3 million malaria deaths were prevented over a span of 12 years. New data released by the United Nations show under-five mortality rates have dropped by 49 percent between 1990 and 2013. 17,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990.  3.3 million malaria deaths were prevented in a span of 12 years. Regardless, overall progress is still short of meeting the MDG targets by 2015. On Tuesday, we will have 456 days left to achieve the MDGS. On September 30th, join us on social media using #Day456 to draw attention to these three MDGs and the important work ahead over the next 456 days to meet these goals. Every Woman Every Child was launched in 2010 by the …

Girls’ Globe speaks with Nick Kristof!

This morning Elisabeth Epstein and I had the privilege to speak with New York Times journalist, author and activist Nicholas Kristof in an interactive Google+ Hangout. In their new book, A Path Appears, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn highlight powerful stories of people who are making a difference. The book shares courageous stories from young people working to combat trafficking, illiteracy, poor education and a myriad of other issues around the world. During the Hangout, Nick shared the inspiration behind this new project as well as the lessons they have learned from years of investing in women, girls and international development. In this engaging Hangout, Nick answered questions from the virtual audience, those watching live and tweeting their questions using the hashtag #AskNick. Nick challenged young people to get involved with existing organizations working to improve the lives of women and girls around the world. Did you miss the G+ Hangout? Check out the Storify recap. Don’t miss all of our engaging 2014 UNGA week video interviews.

Fighting Maternal and Infant Mortality in Somaliland

This week, the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) convenes in New York City to examine 20 years of actions taken by governments to improve people’s lives and address population issues. The Head of State reaffirmed ‘their commitments to place people at the centre of development.’ Africa has 12% of the global population and accounts for half of all maternal and infant deaths. Somaliland, located in the Horn of Africa and with a population of 3.5 million has one of the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world. Almost all maternal and newborn deaths are preventable. Millions of lives can be saved if women have access to skilled and trained midwives during pregnancy and childbirth. A report released by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank states ‘substantial global progress has been made in reducing child deaths, approximately 17,000 children under age five continue to die every day in 2013.’ Progress is slow and the Millennium Development Goal 4 target risks being missed at the global level. Here are some facts: …

We can’t have a post-2015 agenda without SRHR!

In 2000, the creators of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) completely overlooked sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), a mistake that, if repeated, would cripple the dreams of millions of young girls and women for years and generations to come. Access to SRHR enables individuals to choose whether, when, and with whom to engage in sexual activity; to choose whether and when to have children; and to access the information and means to do so. To some, these rights may be considered an everyday reality. However, that is not the case for millions of young people in the world – particularly girls and women. On Tuesday night, I had the fantastic opportunity to listen to some of the foremost global leaders speak on behalf of ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the post-2015 agenda. The benefits of ensuring SRHR are society wide and inevitably translate into improved education, economic growth, health, gender equality, and even environment. Education “At my high school, you would be expelled if found with a condom.” …

#ShowYourSelfie: Educate Girls

In less than nine months, I will be graduating from high school. And in less than a year, I will be starting college. For the past 12 years, I have been blessed with an education that has empowered me to challenge the status quo. Guided by a love of learning and a supportive school system, I have been emboldened with the faith that I can leverage the knowledge I’ve acquired – whether within or beyond the classroom – to make a tangible difference in the world. However, unlike me, adolescent girls across the world face persistent barriers to the education that they are entitled to – the 2013 documentary Girl Rising posits that as many as 66 million girls are out of school globally. The lamentable, inescapable truth is that when a girl is shut out of educational institutions, she inevitably faces the brunt of abuse, early marriage, maternal mortality, poverty, and financial dependence. But we can change this reality for the 66 million girls worldwide. I believe that girls’ education is one of the most powerful investments …

Unpaid, Unrecognized, Undervalued: Women’s and Girls’ Care Work

Nafula, a young twenty-five year old from Chavakali, Kenya begins her day at 4a.m. Before the sun rises, she walks more than 2 kilometres to the borehole where 20 other women are already in the queue. It takes one hour for her to collect water for the day. With a 5 month old child on her back, a twenty litre container on her head and a small five litre container, she hurries home to prepare breakfast for her husband and two children. After completing the housework and tilling the family land, Nafula will make her way to the nearby hospital which is ten kilometres away. It is also her responsibility to care for her father-in law’s health. After his daily doctor’s appointment, her husband and children will arrive at home for dinner. Although every life is unique, Nafula’s story is similar to many women and girls. The Labor of Love – By Definition While unpaid care work may be a labour of love, it is still labour. Care work is labour from which we all benefit – raising children who contribute to …