From March 27-28 2012, Women Deliver, in partnership with Partners in Population and Development Africa Regional Office, held an invitation-only regional consultation for 100-150 participants from sub-Saharan Africa in Kampala, Uganda. Policymakers, researchers, experts, and advocates attended the consultation on Achieving MDG 5: Challenges, Opportunities and Lessons Learned to discuss regional success stories, lessons learned and pathways for future progress in maternal and reproductive health, with a focus on the International Conference on Population and Development’s (ICPD) Plan of Action and Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5. An outcome document is forthcoming and will be available on the Women Deliver website. View the agenda and all speaker presentations here.
These discussions have begun to shape the agenda for our next global conference in 2013 and will also be delivered as key recommendations to the United Nations Secretary-General’s office.
Recognizing that young people are critical stakeholders, consultations were designed to incorporate their input. Almost 25 youth advocates from 11 different countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa took part in a pre-consultation workshop, where they learned advocacy strategies, identified areas for cross-sector collaboration, and networked through a series of interactive sessions. They were also active participants in the main consultation, and provided a youth perspective to the discussions.
Participants reported having received a great deal of knowledge and skills related to advocacy and communications during the consultation.
Florence Brazio Mwitwa from Tanzania, on youth advocacy:
Attending the Youth Workshop of Africa Regional Consultation Meeting gave me a chance to learn more about strategies for advocating maternal health issues. Other youth advocates gave me challenges to work on more participation of youth in my country because they more reluctant and sometimes take things for granted. Innovation, creativity and commitment of youth that I met add more knowledge to my activities in addressing these health issues.
Kidus G.Mehalu from Ethiopia, on serving as youth rapporteur:
[…] the experiences that I gained during the consultation have also changed and reoriented my perspective of sexual and reproductive health and rights. I was assigned as a rapporteur tasked with setting the message frame work for the future of maternal and child health beyond MDG5/ICPD. Moreover, I have continued to work with the achievement of the missions behind the goals of ICPD/MDG5.
Chanda Buumba Katongo from Zambia, on the long road ahead with MDG 5:
During the regional consultation we engaged in meaningful discussions and I was happy to learn about the maternal health situation in different parts of Africa. I obtained a critical analysis of different spheres of society, policies, statistics and strategies in relation to the MDG’s, with a focus on MDG 5. Some of the statistics seen from the various presentations during the meeting were disheartening and upsetting in that they showed that there is still much that needs to be done towards the attainment of MDG 5 and the other MDG’s.
Nsinda Elman from Uganda, on the inputs from Uganda’s First Lady, Mrs. Janet Museveni, about the involvement of men and boys:
Mrs. Janet Museveni, Member of Parliament, Uganda’s First Lady and Minister for Karamoja Affairs agitated for zero tolerance to maternal death and urged men to be supportive to their wives during pregnancy and childbirth. “This behavior on men’s part has not helped the already complex situation of maternal survival. Men must know that they have a role to play if they want their women to survive. It is also important to have the men and women discuss, together, the reproductive health issues because decisions about the health of women and children should be taken within the context of the African family.”
Others reported on their plans following the consultation, describing their newfound or affirmed commitment to maternal health and SRHR.
Yemurai Nyoni from Zimbabwe, on the African response to maternal death:
Following the successful meeting, I have resolved to amplify my voice in advocating for maternal health of young people, within the context of sexual and reproductive health, through every available opportunity. The starting point for this is in engaging fellow youth advocates in the YPNSRH and AfriYAN to revitalize their work in this area. I want them to know that the fight against maternal death is a decision-based fight, in that it seeks to empower the individual woman with all the necessary information, skills, resources and opportunities to make the decision to save her own life, and to ensure that the required services are available and accessible to effectively facilitate the fulfillment of that decision. The materialization of that decision however, currently lies largely in the hands of governments who determine legislation and fiscal allocations, health service staff who possess life-saving competencies, societies that shape cultural norms and husbands who command household resources. We as advocates can, by making our own decision, strike at social, economic and political fabric that propagates maternal death, and can call on all relevant stakeholders to play their part in making life-altering decisions lie in the hands of those to whom that life belongs.
Alenwi Numfor from Cameroon, on his plans post-consultation:
We are now building an Advocacy Ask to present to the Director of National Institute of Statistics, Minister of Public Health and the Parliament. We will be calling on them to update the DHS [Demographic Health Survey] 2004 on maternal health. This is believed to be the best way to open national and international eyes on the lapses in service delivery and conformity to the international treaties we endorsed
Nebila Abdulmelik from Ethiopia, on creating lasting social change:
I hope to use the various networks that I have at my disposal to share the information regarding SRHR and come up with innovative strategies to address the issues at hand. I want us to feel empowered to take action and make an impact. I want citizens to realize that they have the power and the potential to leave a legacy for the next generation. Perhaps there will be a day when news of a mother dying while giving birth will be the exception rather than the norm.
Bibian Nnenna from Nigeria, on youth coalition-building:
Increasingly, some of the most pervading social, cultural and economic determinants that fuel adolescent sexuality in Africa and more especially Nigeria (my country) have become seriously entrenched and have shown no signs of abating. I believe the young people forming a coalition group will definitely effect a positive change to our different countries.
Mu’azu Muhammed from Nigeria, on the messages she will take home:
The key take away to my colleagues is simple: I will make sure that they play their own part toward achieving a safe motherhood in Africa, through individual actions and communal efforts. This is because of the collaborative needs for both individuals and corporate partners to work towards empowering girls and women’s economically and through education in order to improve maternal and reproductive health and rights in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The following list of participants gave their feedback on the consultation in blog posts, some of which are quoted above:
Martin Wanzala – Allied Youth Initiative
Anne Alan Sizomu – DSW Uganda
Nargis Shirazi – UNOPS/Millennium Villages Project
Nsinda Elman – White Ribbon Alliance Uganda
Florence Brazio Mwitwa – Tanzania Association for Medical Students
Cassien Havugimana – Health Development Initiative Rwanda
Mu’azu Muhammed – Generation Development
Kula V. Fofana – Paramount Young Women Initiative
Nebila Abdulmelik – FEMNET
Mitchelle Kinya Kimathi – Reproductive Health and Rights Alliance
Kidus Mehalu – APACE Youth Innovations & Development Training Centre
Numfor Alenwi Munteh – Cameroon Agency for Sustainable Development
Yemurai Nyoni – African Youth and Adolescents Network on Population and Development; Zimbabwe Young People's Network on SRH and HIV and AIDS
Chanda Buumba Katongo – Youth Vision Zambia