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Human rights laws can protect women

Wednesday April 15th, 2015

Preventable deaths among mothers around the world will only be avoided when women's human rights are properly addressed, a senior British doctor has warned.

Professor Lesley Regan, of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, focused on preventable maternal death and illness in a lecture yesterday (14 April) in Brisbane, Australia. The lecture was part of the RCOG World Congress 2015.

Professor Regan said: "A critically important reason why global efforts to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity have been slow is the low value that society, political, religious, community and family leaders have placed on a woman's life.

"The contributions made by mothers to society are far reaching and countries that fail to protect women's rights have the worst economic, educational, maternal and child health outcomes. Advocacy for women is an obligation for everyone engaged in reproductive health care. It is therefore crucial that all health care professionals understand how to embed human rights principles into every aspect of their delivery of care."

She called for women to be provided with more information on their rights when accessing health care. "We need to empower them with the knowledge they need to help us protect and preserve their fundamental rights," she says.

In 2009, the UN Human Rights Council acknowledged that preventable maternal mortality was a human rights violation. Following this, health advocates began using human rights mechanisms to hold governments legally accountable for ensuring access to essential reproductive health and wellbeing services.

But Professor Regan points out that gender inequalities and violence, including child marriage, rape and female genital mutilation remain widespread.

"Why mothers die: Women's human rights" presented at the RCOG World Congress 2015, Joint RCOG / RANZCOG Event, held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia from 12 to 15 April 2015.

Tags: Australia | Childbirth and Pregnancy | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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