This year, Kenya’s chapter of International Day for Maternal Health and Rights was celebrated in Homa Bay County where different stakeholders and other organizations met to urge Governments and other policy makers to make comprehensive rights based maternal healthcare available to all women and girls.

The statistics for maternal deaths in Kenya are not very encouraging, despite efforts by several organizations and individuals over the years. In Kenya approximately 22 women die daily from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, with Homa Bay being one of the top counties in maternal mortalities.  That is way to may lives lost and worse still, these are lives of the very people who bring forth life.

Other than loss of lives, there are also so many other problems plaguing women and girls in pregnancy and birth. Women having to walk for Kilometers on end to access health facilities, some giving birth on the floors of hospitals and some facing harsh treatment from care givers.

But as we speak of proper maternal healthcare for our women and girls, have all the problems been defined? By whom? It is unfortunate that matters pertaining to these people at the center of reproductive health are often discussed in boardrooms and passed as policies without the involvement of the very people who they affect most – women and girls.

Towards this, White Ribbon Alliance, Open Society in East Africa, AMREF, Christian Aid, the Girl Generation, Centre for Reproductive Rights, KMET, Jacaranda Health among other partners  are calling upon women and girls to voice their self-articulated needs and  demand accountability from their governments for women and girls health care, and to advocate for increased access to health information and services.

Supporting maternal health and rights not only empowers women but their children and communities too. The International Day for Maternal Health and rights comes at a time when local and international organizations have come together to push for quality, equity and dignity of women and girls via a campaign dabbed #WhatWomenWant.

The campaign seeks to amplify the voices of women and girls in defining what quality healthcare means to them and ultimately help the government, health workers, private sector, women and civil society groups better understand what is important to women and girls and offer solutions that are tailored to their needs.

You can add your voice to what women want by taking this survey here.

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