While all eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals are closely linked to the efforts of women, MDG 5, like MDG 3, directly addresses women's needs. MDG 5 aims to Improve Maternal Health, specifically by:
- reducing by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio, and
- achieving, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health.
This is the only MDG that targets reproductive health, despite the fact that MADRE and other women's human rights advocates have argued that sexual and reproductive rights are integral to the realization of at least three other MDGs: women's equality and empowerment (MDG 3); reducing child mortality (MDG 4); and combating HIV/AIDS (MDG 6).
On September 15, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a promising report stating that the number of women dying from complications during pregnancy or childbirth has decreased by 34% between 1990 and 2008. Despite the notable progress, the annual rate of decline as identified in the WHO report (2.3%) is less than half of what is needed in order to achieve MDG 5 by 2015 (5.5%). Areas that experienced the largest rate of decline, such as East Asia, have also experienced an increased rate in prevalence of contraceptive methods, thereby illustrating the importance of universal access to reproductive health in the success of MDG 5.
From Our Sister Organizations: Midwives for Peace (Palestine)
MADRE has long been working to reduce maternal mortality rates both by way of increasing access to health care facilities and by providing access to sexual and reproductive health and education. In Palestine, MADRE's work with the Safe Birth Project has helped to promote the safety of pregnant women giving birth in an area plagued by conflict. Israeli military blockades of thousands of roads in the West Bank make it hard for Palestinian women in labor to reach hospitals, resulting often in the death of the mother, her child, or both. MADRE works with the grassroots campaign Midwives for Peace to provide "safe delivery kits" to midwives in the West Bank, increase access to well-trained midwives, and equip Palestinian women with condoms and family planning education to reduce high-risk and unwanted pregnancies. The result is an overall decrease in the incidence of maternal mortality and an increase in access to reproductive health.
For more on myMADRE's coverage of MDG 5, click here.