Each year around the world, International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8. Thousands of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organizations, governments, charities and women’s groups around the world choose different themes each year that reflect global and local gender issues. The 2012 United Nations International Women’s Day theme is focused on empowering rural women.
All women, especially rural women and adolescent girls, struggle for their basic rights and survival. Despite the progress that governments have made, in collaboration with different international and national partners, maternal mortality and morbidity are still very high. This is a reflection of inequality, injustice and violation of women’s basic rights. More than 1500 women and girls die every day from complications of pregnancy and child birth representing around 550,000 maternal deaths a year. In 2009, the WHO fact sheet indicated that every year, 99% of half a million maternal deaths occur in developing countries. The twenty five Partners in Population and Development (PPD) member countries accounted for 59% of these maternal deaths. Rural women and girls, who comprise one in four people worldwide, face some of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world. Evidence has shown that maternal morbidity and mortality are majorly from three delays: (a) delay in seeking care (b) delay in access to care and (c) delay in receiving adequate care. These preventable deaths and disabilities result from a culmination of violation of human rights against women and girls in many aspects of their lives and at all levels of decision making. During the 56th session (held on 27th February 2012) of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW56) several high-level speakers emphasized the need to unleash the potential of rural women. PPD member countries that had universal representation during the meeting joined other delegations from all over the world to advocate for and share experiences on rural women empowerment programs. (More details on the 56th session available on: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/56sess.htm#media
On this International Women’s Day, PPD urges to its member countries, civil society, donors and the private sector to commit to making every womans’ life count at every life stage, through increased investments to realize improved maternal health, women empowerment and to ensure their fundamental rights.