By Hannah Ondiek
I don’t know how mothers do what they do. It is the biggest task on earth, a full-time job that comes with no pay. And yet some who are courageous enough to take it on are giving up what they themselves are giving-life.
Mother’s day is one of the most memorable days of every year celebrated on different dates across the world, though in many countries it is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. Adverts all over the place; dinners, shopping, flowers, calls, texts, songs and poems written, all this done to make a mother feel special. Some people do it out of duty rather than from the heart. At the end of the day, if she feels special then your work is done.
But we must stop and think as we celebrate our mothers: who will mourn the 800 women around the world who die every day giving life?
As we celebrate our mothers, who will mourn the young teenage girl who, due to lack of awareness of her sexual and reproductive health rights, carries an unsafe pregnancy to term, or resorts to what we euphemistically call an “unsafe” abortion. Who will mourn the one who loses a child or celebrate the young mother who has to bear the burden of the greatest task on earth under harsh circumstances?
The words “No woman should die giving birth” has become a rallying slogan and is featured on policy documents of many organizations and frequents the speeches of numerous politicians and women’s rights advocates. To what extent, however, do we take our words seriously? Is it simply a matter of paying lip service to the agenda of the day without a real commitment to see it through? Countless women and girls die on a daily basis from pregnancy related causes, which are often preventable. Denying them access to family planning options, to adequate healthcare, to information denies them, in many cases, the ability to live fulfilled lives. This problem is compounded in rural areas across our continent because of the urban-rural divide. Though there has been some progress in reducing the number of deaths of our women, and there are numerous organizations working on these issues, we still have a long way to go.
They say that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world so if one mother’s life is lost, then we have lost a world of opportunity.
We are two years into the Africa Women’s Decade (2010-2020), which was declared by our African Heads of State and Government and officially launched at the continental level on October 15, 2010 in Nairobi, Kenya, under the theme “A Grassroots Approach to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.”. Out of the ten themes that the Decade will focus on, a special thematic focus is dedicated to the area of improving women’s health, reducing maternal mortality and addressing the HIV/AIDS issue. Hopefully the world we live in will be more conducive for mothers in 2020 than it is today, if we uphold all the numerous commitments made.
This year, as we applaud and celebrate mothers, we hope we can celebrate and appreciate them even more by making life better for them.
I choose to celebrate mothers not only on a day the world asks me to but every day, because she deserves nothing less. Viva to all the mothers of the world!!
Hannah Ondiek is a Communication’s Intern at the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET)