Friday, October 10, 2008

Caring about women in the developing world -- the rural ones, too

The Bush administration's recent decision to cut off funding to Marie Stopes International, a private non-profit organization that distributes condoms and IUDs to women in developing nations in Asia and Africa, came to my attention yesterday thanks to a former student who works at the U.S. Agency for International Development. As I trawled around for more information on this issue in order to write about it on my feminist legal theory blog, I came across this op-ed piece by Nicholas Kristof, which discusses several aspects of what is wrong-headed about the policy. What sets Kristof apart from other commentators making some similar points is that he notes the devastating consequences the policy will have on rural women in particular. Kristof writes:
“The irony and hypocrisy of it is that this is a bone to the self-described ‘pro-life’ movement, but it will result in deaths to women who just want to space their births,” said Dana Hovig, the chief executive of Marie Stopes International. The organization estimates that the result will be at least 157,000 additional unwanted pregnancies per year, leading to 62,000 additional abortions and 660 women dying in childbirth.
Kristof expresses skepticism at the response of the U.S. aid agency official who claims no increase in pregnancies will result because contraceptives will be channeled to other groups delivering assistance in Africa (emphasis added):
That will work to some degree in big cities. But it’s a fantasy in rural Africa. Over the years, I’ve dropped in on a half-dozen Marie Stopes clinics, and in rural areas there’s typically nothing else for many miles around. Women in the villages simply have no other source of family planning.
Kristof goes on to describe what the death in childbirth of an African woman might look like, and he notes that in some parts of the continent, 1 in 10 women die in childbirth. I am relieved to see a high-profile columnist such as Kristof noting the difference that rurality makes on the ground, in the lives of real women -- rural women. We need to be aware not only of urban women, who may have multiple options for birth control assistance, but also rural women, for whom Marie Stopes International may be -- or, more precisely now, was -- their only source of what is literally a life-saving resource.


eyelift said...

What a wonderful article this is! This is fact. Women's care is vastly affected with World's development. I like thoughts pf author.

veins said...

Women's health is a important part of overall development picture. Healthy women live longer, do more to help their family livelihood. CARE solved with proper nutrition, health education, family planning and primary health care key to the quality and related issues.