October 14, 2015
Guest blog post by, Nicholas Brooke, founder of The Synergist and Safe Motherhood Week.
In recent years, the topic of maternal rights in Brussels has had a hard time. Take, for example, the Directive on maternity leave which has reached a deadlock situation, moving nowhere for the best part of four years and on the brink of being withdrawn, altogether. The outcome is that the issue has gradually been relegated down the priority list, while parents across the union are left to wonder what will become of their parental leave.
Yet elsewhere across the globe, maternal rights are making their mark. The expiration of the Millennium Development Goals and their ‘universal and participatory’ replacement, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), present us with an opportunity to expand our understanding, definition and approach to maternal rights.
Maternal health is one such area.
A poor health experience in early motherhood is something that exists in every continent in ways most of us haven’t ever thought about. We generally associate poor maternal health with third world countries yet here in Europe, there are some worrying statistics as well.
Take, for example, that 5 million women give birth in Europe every year, yet one in ten doesn’t have access to care during the first months of their pregnancy. Or that in 2013 there were an estimated 1,900 maternal deaths in Europe. In Greece, a quarter to a third of the Greek population has no health coverage, meaning that uninsured pregnant women have to bear the full cost of their antenatal care and delivery which at €1,300, is nigh on impossible for the average family.
Organisations such as MSD’s MSD for Mother’s 10-year $500 million initiative aims to reduce maternal mortality worldwide. In Europe, MSD collaborates with stakeholders and support programmes to promote equal access to quality maternal healthcare for all women across the region. Other organisations such as the Pregnancy & Medicine Initiative wish to break the silence around pregnancy and medicine, something that is often considered a taboo subject.
And when it comes to women’s rights in Europe, there’s a need to become more vocal.
We’re inviting people to take part in our first European-wide survey on motherhood to map the current situation for parents in Europe. Our hope is that the survey will provide a valuable baseline from which to develop future studies and build up a picture of unmet needs and blind spots in the healthcare system for mothers in Europe.
On Tuesday, as part of the first Safe Motherhood Week, the Alliance for Maternal Health Equality will be holding a Breakfast briefing at the European Parliament in a bid to seek a resolution on maternal health equality in Europe. By bringing together MEPs and other stakeholders to discuss sharing the common goal of improving access and delivery of maternal healthcare for all women, they hope to put maternal rights firmly back on the agenda, here in Brussels and across Europe.
In this way, we can look after everymum.