Working for Change 101
Throughout the world, millions of women die needlessly from
problems during pregnancy and childbirth. Many of these deaths
happen because a woman or her family wait too long to get
help for emergencies.
Here is the story of a group of women who worked in their
community to understand and solve some of these problems.
During the last rainy season, my friend Ekwefi was pregnant. When it was time
for her to give birth, her husband had gone away on a trip. Several wise women
were there to help her. But the labor was too long and Ekwefi started bleeding.
I said that we needed to take her to the health center. No one could decide what
to do. Her husband was gone and he was the one who should decide. Soon
after we realized that Ekwefi and the baby would not survive, they both died in
front of us.
This made me very sad. Ekwefi was my friend, and we could not help her.
I started talking with other women in my village. We had to do something about
this problem. Ekwefi was not the first woman to die while she was giving birth.
Many other women lost their babies during birth. Some women said this is how
things are in our small village and we should accept it. But we said no, we can do
something to solve this problem.
We decided to have a meeting to learn more about the problem of women
and babies dying during birth. During our meeting we decided to talk to the
families with this problem. Six women in our group agreed to visit families where
a woman had died from a difficult birth during the past two years, or where a
woman was still recovering from one.
We learned several important
things. Everyone agreed that the
biggest problem was that women
wait a very long time before they call
a doctor or go to the health center.
Sometimes a woman cannot ask for
help without her husband’s permission.
Many times, like with my friend Ekwefi,
the husband is not in the village when
the woman needs to ask his permission
to get help. The neighbors are afraid
to give help, because they do not want
the husband to be angry or offended.
We also learned that most husbands
do not know about the many risks
women face during labor.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012