Rwanda’s First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, has rallied women in leadership to use their positions to voice concerns on family planning services if they are to make a critical contribution to sustainable development in their societies.

Mrs Kagame used the platform of the ongoing International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) in Kigali to highlight some of the critical challenges that mothers still face when it comes to family planning.

At the high-level panel titled ‘Women of Impact: Leading Ladies Leading Positive Change’, Mrs Kagame said that child-bearing has come with a heavy cost to mothers’ health, which is why it is imperative to allow a conducive environment for women to voice their opinion on reproductive health and their concerns be considered if the world is to thrive.

“Since time immemorial, women have held roles that are vital, yet that have often been taken for granted, in child-bearing, nurturing, educating, feeding and raising the world. Every so often, this comes with a heavy cost to their health and wellbeing,” the First Lady said.

She urged women to use their leadership positions, collective knowledge, skill and experience, to help in innovating solutions, challenge norms and standards that do not promote equality, in all sense of life.

“We are often called upon to become the face of diverse causes, because the public sees in us, our abilities to multitask. In one stroke, we become the Advocate; the Catalyst; Facilitator; Convener; Coordinator; Applauder of others in their roles.

On the panel, Her Excellency, Mrs Martine Moïse, First Lady of Haiti, said that the woman’s involvement in issues that matter to them, such as reproductive health – and putting into account their concerns relating to family planning – means their progress; which is directly proportional to everyone’s progress.

“It is unanimous to recognize that the girls’ progress means everyone’s progress, equally, the adolescents’ progress has to go through the reinforcement of the human capital, with these two ingredients: education, which includes sexual education; and health,” First Lady Moise said.

She added that governments should put in place special interventions for young people to access family planning and reproductive health programmes.

First Lady Moise also argued that such special sexual reproductive efforts should be more aggressive in the rural areas for a bigger impact.

Her fellow panellist, Her Royal Highness, Sarah Zeid, Princess of Jordan, emphasised the fact that without women at the centre of everything, growth and development will never be sustained. She said that sustained action toward sexual reproductive health and family planning rights has to be everyone’s priority.

Her Excellency Toyin Saraki, Founder of the Wellbeing Foundation, in her intervention, tipped participants towards collective efforts to find the right solutions, such as primary health care. “If we invest in primary health, it gives us a platform to push through everything else that we want to push through,” she explained.

According to the WHO report of 2017, approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, which totals 302,950 deaths a year. However, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the organisers of the conference, estimates that approximately 1 in 4 women could be saved if they had global access to contraception.

Simply meeting the unmet need for family planning services would also prevent 1.1 million infant deaths. Family planning remains out of reach for many couples in low-income settings – more than 200 million couples in the developing world are unable to control the number and spacing of their births.

Julia Bunting, the President of the Population Council told The New Times that each year, an estimated 85 million pregnancies are unplanned worldwide.

The 5th edition of the ICFP, taking place in Kigali until the 15th, November, seeks to promote quality access to family planning, and sexual reproductive health services.


PHOTO CREDIT: The New Times | Rwanda

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