Stories of Mothers Saved: African Mothers sending messages to Heads of States

23 July 2010
Author: UNFPA

It is no secret that in Africa, complications during pregnancy and childbirth are one of the leading causes of death for women of childbearing age. An unacceptable number of women die in pregnancy and childbirth each year, and for every woman who dies, at least 20 other suffer injuries, infections and disabilities.

This is why maternal health is one of the key issues to be discussed by Heads of States at the 15th African Union Summit taking place in Uganda 19-27th July.

Most of the maternal deaths that occur are preventable, and sometimes it doesn’t take much to save a woman’s life. UNFPA and the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood have collected stories from 60 communities and nearly 30 countries for the multimedia exhibit Stories of Mothers Saved, which presents stories of women from around the world who have survived childbirth under often harrowing conditions.

UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya A. Obaid says about the collection of stories: "The voices and stories of these women, their families and communities serve to hold leaders accountable. Momentum is building, we are making progress, and together we are united in our conviction that no women dies giving life," she said.

Each of the women portrayed in Stories of Mothers Saved has journeyed through the perils of agonizing or anguished labour, most of them from Africa. Collectively, the women profiled have suffered eclampsia, stillbirths, convulsions, haemmorrhage, obstructed labour, and HIV.

Their faces are studies in endurance and they send direct and powerful messages to their Heads of State about what needs to be done to save women's lives--whether it is more midwives, more health facilities or better access to family planning.

Quotes from some of the women:

"If I had the power, I would build more health centers and make sure each one had an ambulance, so that they can evacuate women and avoid preventable deaths during childbirth." Safiatou Lido, Burkina Faso

“If I were the Queen or a Member of Parliament, I would take the initiative to build a central maternity hospital here in Dowa, where women can receive assistance in all aspects of maternal health. “ Agness Kalekeni, Malawi.