May 28 is the International Day of Action for Women's Health. IPPF Africa Region joins other sexual and reproductive health and rights advocates across the globe to remind all African governments and leaders that women’s health matters.
“The link between sexual and reproductive health and women’s empowerment cannot be denied. Women are at the heart of development in any society,” said IPPF Africa Region Director Lucien Kouakou. “Governments must recognise and prioritize safe motherhood and safe pregnancy. They have the duty to remove all barriers including gender inequality that deny women this right.”
The extreme consequences resulting from a narrow approach to women’s health through the denial of sexual and reproductive health services and rights continue to cost women their lives and affect how they access and use reproductive health services.
Millions of African women and girls still remain the most affected by the denial of access to sexual and reproductive health services and rights.
Maternal and child mortality rates are highest in sub-Saharan Africa.
Unintended pregnancies among school going girls, result in a high dropout rate, further fuelling the vicious cycle of poverty facing young people.
Gender inequalities which perpetuate harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, early marriages and sexual and gender based violence.
Women who have undergone female genital mutilation have significantly increased risks for complications during childbirth, including the death of the child.
Contraceptive use is lowest in sub-Saharan Africa and our women and girls remain the most affected by the HIV and Aids pandemic.
“The post-2015 agenda must comprehensively address women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights. As a Federation, we continue to advocate a standalone goal on gender in the post-2015 development agenda and universal access to sexual and reproductive health,” Mr Kouakou said.
“Today let us renew our commitment to ensure that no woman dies from unsafe abortion, no woman dies while bringing life. All women and young girls must have access to sexual and reproductive health services and right,” he said.
Mr Kouakou lauded the African Union for designating the Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063, saying this is an important step, in putting women’s issues at the forefront as the world charts towards a new development framework.