100 years on, what's changed for pregnant women?

Figures out today show that the situation for thousands of women in developing countries today is as bad as it was for women in the UK in 1910.

In 1910 in the UK, figures available show that 355 women per 100,000 live births died as a direct result of childbirth or pregnancy-related causes in England and Wales. In Scotland the figure stood at 572 while in Ireland, the figure was 531.

Compare this to 2010 Ghana where figures reveal that 560 women per 100,000 births die. Or to Bangladesh where the figure is 570; or worse to Chad the number of women dying as a result of pregnancy-related factors stands at a staggering rate of 1,500 per 100,000 births – that’s three times the rate of 1910 Britain

That’s a shameful finding. Not only is it shameful, it’s also unacceptable, especially as Kate Allen pointed out on the Today programme at 0655 this morning, these deaths can be prevented.

Ten years ago, world leaders committed with a UN Millennium Development Goal to cut the rate of maternal deaths by 75 per cent between 2000 and 2015. With just five years to go, we are way off track.

Now is the time for world leaders to start showing real political commitment to make sure that an improvement to global maternal health is a priority. Earlier this year a group of organisations submitted a ‘manifesto for motherhood’ to the UK party political leaders to highlight that they have a role to play.

We will be holding them to account on this, and we’re encouraging you to play your part too. Over the next few weeks we’re encouraging as many people as possible to upload a picture with them and their mother onto our flickr page.  We will then take those pictures and form them into a giant card which we’ll give to the Prime Minister later this year.  Visit www.amnesty.org.uk/mums for more.  If you get tweeting about this issue, use hashtag #mumsmatter

Government leaders can no longer afford to ignore this dreadful situation for women. We surely will not accept that we must wait another 100 years to see world wide improvement. World leaders have until 2015 to drastically cut the rate of these needless deaths. There’s no more time to waste.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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