UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, along with MDGFive.com, a network of global artists, have brought together a group of renowned American and Tanzanian artists to use music and songs in raising awareness of the maternal health situation in Tanzania.
Linked to the lively Sauti za Busara Music Festival in Zanzibar, the creative collaboration has just concluded a three-day music workshop with the production of a song calling for increased attention to maternal health in the country. The workshop featured MDGFive.com co-founders Emmy-winning filmmaker Lisa Russell and Grammy-winning singer Maya Azucena, and New York’s famous MC Okai, along with a group of Tanzanian stars, such as Lady Jay Dee, Mzungu Kichaa, Mrisho Mpoto, FidQ, Sauda, Mama C and others.
The song produced at the end of the Arts and Advocacy workshop calls on leaders of the world to pay more attention to women and girls’ rights and urges the people of Tanzania to further empower, engage and encourage women as partners in development. A mini-documentary will also be produced, featuring interviews with participating artists and maternal health representatives and highlighting the importance of uniting artists and activists around maternal health.
Persistent high maternal deaths and disabilities are also one of Tanzania’s greatest development challenges: Tanzania is one of 11 countries that comprise 65 per cent of all maternal deaths worldwide.
“UNFPA believes that artists have an important role in shaping opinions, informing the public and advocating for positive change,” said Dr. Julitta Onabanjo, UNFPA’s representative in Tanzania. “While the voices of the marginalized are often not heard, the voices of artists break boundaries and are heard by all, the young and old, community leaders and policy makers, opinion shapers and development practitioners.
“It is our hope that this collaboration will inspire and enable those working on the ground to identify, integrate and collaborate with local artists in their maternal health and reproductive health advocacy and communication efforts,” Dr. Onabanjo added. “With the help of artists we can make the voice of Tanzanian women and girls heard and we can make their future a better one.”
The initiative, supported by UNFPA and the Joint United Nations Programme on the Reduction of Maternal and Newborn Mortality, will contribute to Tanzania’s and the UN efforts to achieve goals set under MDG5 (to improve maternal health). It will also support other planned advocacy such as the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA).