International Women’s day 2015 is here. One day that brings us together to make it happen for millions of women worldwide. Isn’t it amazing that millions of people come together every March 8 to transform lives of women girls worldwide?
At ICOD Action Network, we have been building strong grassroots networks to promote women’s reproductive health, eradicate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and obstetric fistula. This March 08, we want to strengthen our maternal health responses and support women with obstetric fistula from some of East Africa’s remotest communities get collective surgery.
Why we chose to focus on eradicating obstetric fistula this #IWD2015
We believe all girls and women have rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture, inhuman treatment, and the right to life. By eradicating Female Genital Mutilation and treating related health complications like fistula, we are helping women achieve all this.
In East Africa, Female Genital Mutilation is one of the causes of obstetric fistula and urethral damage because procedures used in the practice. It is carried out by cutters with no medical backgrounds who use one knife on several girls and women. Above 80% of FGM victims here develop fistula and urethral damage overtime. The injury leaves women with few opportunities to earn a living, and many have to rely on others to survive. The stigma associated with the condition keeps many women hidden away while some go into deep physical and emotional decline and may resort to suicide.
Obstetric fistula still exists because health care systems have failed to provide accessible, quality maternal health care, including family planning, skilled care at birth, basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric care, and affordable treatment of fistula. That is why we have put the best of our efforts to eradicate fistula.
Inspire more men!
I think we need use the day to inspire more men to actively take part in women rights and reproductive health issues. I have been to some of our regions most remote communities working on eradicating Female Genital Mutilation and I have seen how important it is to bring men onboard if we have to get anywhere in eradicating FGM since they ‘key’ decision makers in their communities. For example, there are several male leaders who openly support FGM and help perpetuators escape prosecution. Don’t you think we would achieve a lot if we educate people these on how horrible the practice is and encourage them to join efforts to end it?
Hey! If you are reading this and you are man, come on now. I am a man and I am doing this. You’ all need to join. What affects women, affects humanity and we all need to take action now.
We must take action now; Today!
Taking joint actions is what makes 8 March an important day. As we celebrate our achievements, and remind ourselves how far we have to go, we need to build sustainable collaborations in order to make lasting change in lives of women around the world.
At ICOD Action Network, we have been running a campaign to help 10 women with obstetric fistula get collective surgery. Our campaign hasn’t been doing well but I am hopeful we can turn it around this weekend and provide life-saving surgery to those who need it most.
You can also help end the shame, social segregation, and health problems women face and promote maternal health. Every little bit helps and can help kickstart the campaign with less than 6 days left. Support our current campaign to end obstetric fistula through this link http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fistula-collective-surgery-for-fgm-victms
Michael Ahabwe Mugerwa
Executive Director – ICOD Action Network
More about ICOD Action Network
We are a Uganda based nonprofit founded in March 2008. ICOD Action Network’s work extends beyond material support and touches upon the need to empower communities so that they can be able to sustain themselves. We believe that local driven interventions and innovations are the foundation of sustainable community transformation. Our core values at ICOD Action Network are deeply rooted in sustainability, human rights, justice, inclusiveness and participation, commitment, accountability and transparency.