Women & Children



Putting children at the centre of the end of AIDS

Charles Lyons | “In the 15 years since the Millennium Development Goals were adopted, the number of people accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV/AIDS has Read More

Depressed woman

How Can We Fight the Pandemic of Global Violence against Women?

Domestic violence — overwhelmingly against women — is by far the most common form of violence in the world. About 350 million women across the planet have suffered severe physical violence from their intimate partner according to the World Bank (PDF). In developing countries, more than one in three girls will be married before the age of 18, placing them at increased risk of abuse. Worldwide, 125 million women have been subject to genital mutilation.


Decline in global hunger threatened by climate change and conflict

There are 209 million fewer people who face hunger today that did in 1990. Hunger has become an issue of the past for some 100 million people in the last decade alone. This progress is exciting, but recent developments may slow down the rapid decline of hunger, warns the United Nations. In a report released


Let’s Talk About Sex: why sexual satisfaction and pleasure should be on the international…

This guest post is by Chloe Safier (@chloelenas), Regional Gender Lead for Oxfam in Southern Africa, with thoughtful contributions from Marc Wegerif I was sitting at dinner with my Oxfam colleagues on a Sunday night, just before a country strategy meeting. Over grilled fish and cokes, I mentioned an…

Making a Human-Rights and Socioeconomic Case for Preventing Maternal Mortality

By Katie Millar, Technical Writer, MHTF On October 7, 2014, a panel of experts in maternal health—moderated by Dr. Ana Langer, the Director of the Maternal Health Task Force—gathered at the Harvard School of Public Health to discuss the socioeconomic impact of a maternal death on her family and community. Several studies were summarized and priorities for how to use this research were discussed by the panel and audience at “Women’s Lives Matter: The Impact of Maternal Death on Families and Communities.” What does the research say? In many countries around the world, the household is the main economic unit of a society. At the center of this unit is the mother and the work—both productive and reproductive—that she provides for her family. A study in Kenya, led by Aslihan Kes of the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and Amy Boldosser-Boesch of Family Care International (FCI), showed great indirect and direct costs of a mother losing her life

WHO Welcomes Revitalized Interest in Maternal and Newborn Heath Integration

By Severin Ritter von Xylander, WHO This post is part of the Maternal and Newborn Health Integration Blog Series, “Integration of Maternal and Newborn Health: In Pursuit of Quality” technical meeting. The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes the revitalized interest in integration of maternal and newborn health care as integration is the key to success for both improving maternal health and for ending preventable newborn deaths. This is the very reason why WHO, together with UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank, have been promoting, already since 2000, Integrated Management of Pregnancy and Childbirth (IMPAC). This is the package of guidelines and tools, which respond to key areas of maternal and perinatal health programmes. IMPAC sets standards for integrated maternal and neonatal care

Research Needed On Sanitation Challenges Among Women, Children

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Putting Women and Girls at the Center of Development: Sanitation Dipika Ailani, associate program officer in the water, sanitation, and hygiene group at the Gates Foundation, discusses the importance of understanding “…the impact of poor sanitation on women and children and the role women play in sanitation investments,…More

Physician Reflects On Challenges Of Providing FP Services In West Africa

Intrahealth’s “Vital”: Family Planning Has Yet to Take Hold in West Africa — But Change Is Coming Boniface Sebikali, senior clinical training adviser at IntraHealth International, reflects on his experience as a physician and family planning/reproductive health trainer in West Africa to shed light on the challenges of providing family planning services in the region…More

A Year of Mentoring, A Lifetime of Impact: The Maternal Health Young Professionals Program in…

By Katie Millar, Technical Writer, MHTF At the beginning of this year, the MHTF teamed up with St. John’s Medical College and Research Institute to launch the Maternal Health Young Professionals (MHYP) program; a year-long mentoring program for health professionals throughout India. This professional development program supported eight young health professionals from the private, public and practice sectors to enhance their research, evaluation, and managerial skills – equipping them with the skills they need to be national and global leaders in maternal health. In September, the MHYP showcased their projects, which were made possible by this unique skill building and mentoring process.

Quality of Care for Maternal and Child Health: An Interview with Dr. Zulfi Bhutta

The maternal health community has made great strides towards improving the health of women and newborns around the world, but as global efforts have scaled up interventions quickly, the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) has often paused to consider the quality of this work. To evaluate this, Ana Langer and Anne Austin from the MHTF joined experts from around the world to create the Quality of Care in Maternal and Child Health supplement, published by the Reproductive Health Journal in September, 2014. Three of the five articles in the supplement have been highly accessed, which demonstrates high interest in quality of care in the community and untapped momentum that may be used to fill the identified research gaps. We talked to Dr. Zulfi Bhutta, lead researcher for the series, and asked him a few questions about the research process and how we as the maternal health community should move forward with the results

Empowering Pregnant Women for Positive Birth Experiences: Addressing RMC in the United Kingdom

By Milli Hill, Founder, Positive Birth Movement The focus of my response will be on UK maternity care, as this is where I am based and where the majority of Positive Birth Movement (PBM) groups are. However I am aware that RMC is a global issue, and that different cultures face different issues in their efforts to promote compassionate care. Running the PBM and writing about birth nearly every week, women consistently tell me this: kindness, compassion and respectful care really matter. How a woman (and her partner) are treated during and after childbirth can transform a difficult birth into something they feel at peace with; conversely, disrespectful treatment can be the root cause of trauma, even if the birth was relatively straightforward. The birth experience matters greatly to women, but we have somehow formed a cultural habit of discouraging them from admitting this.

Deutsche Welle Examines Malnutrition, Family Planning In Niger

Deutsche Welle: Niger’s malnourished children “In Niger, children with dusty blond hair are ubiquitous: It’s a sure sign of widespread malnourishment. Resources are scarce, while fertility rates are soaring. Yet family planning is an uphill struggle…” (Conrad, 10/15).

Free Women from Disrespect and Abuse: Promote Respectful Maternity Care

By Christina Rawdon, National Coordinator, White Ribbon Alliance Zimbabwe How great it would be if all women the world over were free from any form of disrespect and abuse (D&A) in their life time; not because I am a woman but because I am an advocate for human rights with love for other human beings. Health care professionals are the pillar of respectful maternity care (RMC). Who disrespects and abuses women in health facilities? It is often but not always the health professionals.

Putting children at the centre of the end of AIDS


Charles Lyons | “In the 15 years since the Millennium Development Goals were adopted, the number of people accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV/AIDS has Read More

From Rights-based Advocacy to Maternal Health Outcomes

By Georgia Taylor, Health Partners International The health system is responsible for poor maternity care Women’s health is affected by how they are treated during pregnancy, childbirth and after. South African women, for example, have described verbal abuse, including being ridiculed while pleading for assistance or pain relief, and being berated for “messing up” when they bled on the floor during labour. Many are later forced to clean up their own blood, the report states. “It’s become so normal some nurses don’t understand why it’s a problem to slap or shout at women in labour,” says Odhiambo. “Some say it’s necessary to get patients to follow directions, and it’s for their own good.” Health providers, especially midwives, nurses and obstetricians are held responsible for this situation, but in fact, it is the whole health system that allows the abuse and lack of care to take place.

The Right to Survive Pregnancy and Childbirth

by Melissa Upreti, Center for Reproductive Rights For many women, pregnancy is a joyous occasion, but for millions of women worldwide, it is a dangerous proposition that could result in serious injury or even death. Nearly 800 women die every day due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth, with the vast majority of these deaths happening in developing countries in the global South. In many parts of the world, this reality is accepted as a fact of life, but the truth is that it is a violation of women’s human rights since, in most instances, the deaths are preventable. In fact, maternal death is too often directly tied to the severe gender bias women face, including discrimination based on their caste or tribe, where they live, and their socioeconomic status. This underlying discrimination frequently manifests as disrespect and abuse (D&A), which goes unchecked due to a lack of accountability norms, procedures, and mechanisms in health systems to ensure respectful maternity care (RMC).

Join Us in Celebrating the International Day of the Girl Child

By Katie Millar, Technical Writer, MHTF Today is a day of celebration: Today we congratulate Malala as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, which is a perfect way to kick-off tomorrow, International Day of the Girl Child. As Malala fights for equal access to education for girls everywhere, we join tomorrow with girls, women, and organizations around the world to recognize the unique value, needs, and contributions of girls – ones that often go overlooked. The time of childhood and adolescence for girls is one filled with infinite possibilities for transformative experiences, for better or worse. The International Day of the Girl Child was launched for the first time three years ago by the United Nations as world leaders recognized that girls face many challenges that limit the realization of their potential and violate their human rights. Of these human rights, is the right to plan a family and the right to survive childbirth

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