The connection between gender-based violence and quality sexual, reproductive and maternal health care is important to remember as we celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. In addition to overt acts of violence against women, like sexual assault, there are often more subtle instances of violence—such as disrespect and abuse (D&A) during pregnancy and childbirth—that negatively impact women’s health.
For example, in many countries there is often not adequate staff at health facilities to attend to all women’s needs, so that some women deliver alone without a skilled birth attendant. In countries like Tanzania, D&A has been listed among the top reasons why women do not seek out skilled care during childbirth. When women give birth without a skilled birth attendant, or are abused at the hands of a provider, their survival and their infant’s survival is threatened.
D&A in facilities is driven a variety of factors, including poor treatment of providers by health systems and culturally ingrained ideas of gender inequality. It is both gender-based violence and a human rights issue that has a very real impact on maternal health and survival.
Join us as we begin the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign by following @MHTF on twitter and contributing to the conversation with the hashtags #VAW and #EndDisrespect.
If you are interested in receiving a social media toolkit with messages on disrespect and abuse and gender-based violence, please email Natalie Ramm.