Media Release: International Women’s Day
Australia’s foreign aid budget should mandate reproductive health services for all rural women
Environment group, Sustainable Population Australia (SPA), is calling on the incoming Foreign Minister, Hon Bob Carr, to tie development projects to the provision of family planning within Australia’s overseas aid program.
Tomorrow is International Women’s Day and the UN theme for this year is “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty”.
SPA National President Ms Sandra Kanck says if rural women are to be empowered, they must be able to control their own fertility and they must be confident that, when they choose to get pregnant, the baby will be delivered safely.
“We in SPA appreciate Mr Carr’s commitment to population issues and strongly encourage him to apply that knowledge and understanding to his new portfolio and set an example to other developed nations.
“Many of the 1,000 women dying each day around the world due to pregnancy and childbirth complications are from rural areas,” says Ms Kanck. “In rural areas, women have less access to skilled birth attendants and health clinics than women in cities.
“Maternal mortality in our nearest neighbour, Papua New Guinea, is unacceptably high with 250/100,000 women dying every year from pregnancy or childbirth. Only 53 per cent of births are attended by skilled health personnel yet providing skilled birth attendants, preferably in a clinic or hospital, greatly reduces the risk of dying from complications.”
Ms Kanck says fewer women would die if they could control their own fertility yet 215 million women worldwide lack access to contraception.
“Women who have no control over their own fertility, or who have too many unplanned or unwanted babies, are more vulnerable to hunger and poverty.
“We have seen only recently the plight of hungry women in the Horn of Africa, escaping the effects of drought,” says Ms Kanck. “Many had ten or more children. Many women went without so their children could be fed. The situation would have been less desperate had there been fewer mouths to feed.”
“Australia has an important role to play in alleviating such problems” said Ms Kanck.
Further information: Sandra Kanck 08 8336 4114 or 0417882143