What does the water in your glass have to do with the health of mothers and babies around the globe? Quite a lot actually. Without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation -- like safe toilet facilities -- women face dangerous health risks in pregnancy, during childbirth and in the postpartum period.
Celebrated on May 5th each year, the International Day of the Midwife recognises the invaluable role of midwives in health. As the Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), I would like to personally thank midwives for their inspiring work in delivering quality care to women and newborns.
Growing up in Senegal, I lived in what we in the global health community might call a "pronatalist" environment -- meaning that women and communities prefer large families. Contraception was, and often still is, difficult to come by, and many women die as a result of childbirth complications (289,000 per year worldwide, in fact).
Perhaps we should also ask a simple question about the rights of a woman in any given society: can she determine when she has children, and how many of them she will have? If she cannot, then what use are her supposed positions of honor or status? But come to think of it, shouldn't that right extend to women in the so-called developed first world, too?