I am playing my part for reproductive and maternal health by ensuring that women’s voices are heard—loud and clear.
We marched to the Taj Mahal to bring attention to the issue of maternal mortality in India. It caught the fancy of the media and we had three film stars who marched with us.
My name is Aparajita Gogoi. I work for an Indian non-profit called the C3, the Centre for Catalyzing Change. The Centre for Catalyzing Change, which was called CEDPA in 1999, it was one of the founding members of the White Ribbon Alliance, which was started at the global level that year, as well as in India and Nepal.
In 1999, India released its second international family health survey which told us that the MMR was about 547 which meant that we had women dying every five minutes in the country and as I am a professional who came from the field of women’s economic empowerment, it was really difficult to wrap my head around the fact that so many women were dying and nobody seemed to care. White Ribbon Alliance India started looking at why women’s lives were not seen as really valuable in this country and when we reached out to key influencers, like members of parliament and opinion leaders, we asked them, “do you know that the number of women who die every year is almost 150,000, that India contributes to a quarter of global deaths, that we lose a woman every five minutes?” Their first reaction was always disbelief.
So, we marched to the Taj Mahal to bring attention to the issue of maternal mortality in India. It caught the fancy of the media and we had three film stars who marched with us. It was a catalyzing event and our work became known in the country and we started being invited for press conferences and to participate in policy discussions.
White Ribbon Alliance India’s lasting impact has been our ability to amplify voices from the grassroots and ensure that what women are asking for finds a place in policy and is implemented. This includes the What Women Want campaign, which we conceived and implemented in India, and which then spread around the world. We found out that women wanted respectful care, so we talked to the ministers and today respectful maternity care is central in the country’s maternal health policies.
What makes White Ribbon Alliance special is our ability to speak to women, to amplify and carry their voices to those in political power, and ensure that there are policies and programs created which actually respond to women’s voices and their own self-identified needs.
Thank youAparajita Gogoi
for playing your part.