At the moment the world loses 15 billion dollars every year in productivity that doesn’t happen because mothers and their newborns are dying – one mother a minute, four million newborns every year. A mother’s death always means deeper poverty and hardship for her family and community. It often means an early death for her other children, especially the newborns, and most especially for girls.
An investment of $10 billion annually could save three of every four women who are dying. And just think what that could mean. Just consider what women deliver. Not just babies!
Around the developing world, women operate most of the small businesses. They are workers who deliver firewood and water, immunization and health care. They bring home income. They bring home food. 90 percent of the labour for growing rice in Southeast Asia is done by women. Eighty per cent of Africa’s food is produced by women. And it is the women of Africa, who carry on their heads or in their arms two-thirds of all the goods that are transported anywhere on the continent. Not trucks or planes, but women.
Women are the economic heart of the developing world. But their rights and their health are neglected. This has to change. Women need to be treated with respect and dignity, they need to be healthy, and they need to be able to plan the number and spacing of their pregnancies. If they are able to do this, they can make sure the family has enough income to give each one enough food, clothes, education and medicine. This would be a gain, not just for themselves, but for their families, communities and nations. Investment in women really pays off.
–Visit the Women Deliver’s Blog: Daily Delivery
Jill Sheffield is the President of Women Deliver and founder of Family Care International, a distinguished non-governmental organization, winner of the 2007 United Nations Population Award for outstanding work in sexual and reproductive health and rights.