From June 7-9, the Center for Reproductive Rights joined more than 2,000 women, advocates, donors, government representatives and experts from 115 countries in Washington, D.C. at the Women Deliver Conference to urge global leaders to take action to improve women’s and girls’ health.
According to the World Health Organization more than 500,000 women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every year. Of these deaths, 99 percent take place in developing countries, and six countries account for more than half of maternal deaths worldwide. The vast majority of these deaths are preventable, but require bolstering access to a wide range of sexual and reproductive healthcare services and ensuring the full respect of women’s human rights in conditions of equality. With the 10-year review of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals* taking place in September 2010, advocates are calling on governments to implement a human rights-based approach for achieving Goal 5 — Reduce maternal mortality by three quarters by 2015.
The Center has organized three panel events at the conference focusing on the ways in which human rights strategies contribute to efforts to eliminate preventable maternal mortality and improve women’s reproductive health. The panels will include experts on women’s health, human rights and international law. Participants will discuss the use of strategic litigation to advance reproductive rights, the role of accountability mechanisms in ensuring that governments fulfill their commitments to women, and laws and policies that restrict access to necessary health care and contribute to high rates of maternal deaths.
The Center’s Work on Maternal Mortality
- India has the largest number of maternal deaths in the world and is one of six countries that account for more than 50 percent of all maternal deaths. The Center is litigating cases in India with the Human Rights Law Network to hold the government accountable for failure to adequately address preventable maternal mortality and morbidity. Read the Center’s report on maternal mortality in India >,
- Nigeria has the second largest number of maternal deaths in the world. In the report Broken Promises, the Center documents how institutional and structural problems within the country’s healthcare system, combined with a lack of political will, funding and accountability, leave Nigerian women underserved and often desperate.
- Brazil’s maternal mortality ratio is one of the highest among middle-income countries in Latin America at 110 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2005 (WHO). The Center’s case Alyne da Silva Pimentel v Brazil, currently before the CEDAW Committee, illustrates the deeply entrenched inequalities in access to maternal healthcare services in the country, which disproportionately affect indigenous, low-income, and Afro-descendant women and contribute to their vulnerability to maternal mortality.