Changemaker:Angela Nguku

Location:Kenya

I’m playing my part for reproductive and maternal healthcare by ensuring that every woman and girl is treated as an individual and that their right to healthcare is actually upheld by those who are supposed to uphold it.

White Ribbon Alliance is a movement, but I feel like as it grows, it is almost like a revolution where people will be demanding for nothing less than what is their right.

I’m playing my part for reproductive and maternal healthcare by ensuring that every woman and girl is treated as an individual and that their right to healthcare is actually upheld by those who are supposed to uphold it.

My name is Angela Nguku and I am the founder and the lead of White Ribbon Alliance in Kenya.

Before I launched the White Ribbon Alliance in Kenya, I had been working for several years as a midwife in South Sudan, where there were such high rates of mothers dying in pregnancy and childbirth. I knew that South Sudan had a major maternal health problem, but I thought in my country of Kenya, things were different – things were better.

When I went back home to Kenya, somebody actually asked why nobody was talking about the high rates of maternal deaths in our country, and I thought, “No, a country which has been independent for so long, a country like Kenya, there could be no such a thing.”  But, then I started finding out what was actually going on, and finally I found that by then we were losing 9,000 women in childbirth and pregnancy each year. I soon found out that Kenya was losing 26 mothers every day to preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth.

The shocking thing was that nobody was talking about the maternal mortality crisis in Kenya back then. The media was not talking about it, politicians were not talking about it, nobody was talking about it, so I thought I needed to be a voice and bring other voices on board to talk about the issues, and to make change.

I found White Ribbon Alliance and helped found the movement in Kenya because I felt like it was up to me to talk about maternal mortality because no woman should die from preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth, which is supposed to be the happiest moment of one’s life.

In Kenya, White Ribbon Alliance has been able to raise the visibility and profile of maternal deaths in the country, and of newborns who are dying during childbirth, and even girls who are getting married and pregnant too early.

Globally and in Kenya, I have seen White Ribbon Alliance push for policy changes, and I have seen communities speaking up for their rights to better health. Because of White Ribbon Alliance’s work, I have seen newly empowered communities understand their rights and loudly speak up to power by demanding accountability for the women and girls who are dying in pregnancy and childbirth.

When I started White Ribbon Alliance in Kenya, I never thought we would be where we are today. More people, more champions coming on board, more people interested in the cause of White Ribbon Alliance, and more policy-makers interested in working with communities to create lasting changes.

Since becoming involved with White Ribbon Alliance, every day brings a happy memory because I have seen the progressive growth and advancement on the issues that I am so passionate about: more people are able to claim their power, more people know their rights, and more people are demanding what they deserve. Every day feels like an achievement, and the fact that the alliance in Kenya has grown from being a loose network to an autonomous, registered, and fully-fledged organization in the country, recognized to push for its own rights, to push for its vision and mission, I feel to me is one of the greatest achievements, and I believe we are going to get much more and do much more in the coming years.

White Ribbon Alliance is a movement, but I feel like as it grows, it is almost like a revolution where people will be demanding for nothing less than what is their right. In White Ribbon Alliance, we normally say that we are nimble but mighty, but I feel like we are just going to be mightier and mightier in the things that we are going to do as we grow and help more women and girls.

No matter what, I am not going to sit back – I am going to shout, I am going to speak up, I am not going to fear anyone. I am going to continue doing what I do, even if it means standing on the trees, on the rooftops, wherever, to ensure that no woman dies while giving life, to ensure that no girl should drop out of school because of adolescent pregnancy, to ensure that no newborn dies during childbirth because the mother has not gotten the right care.

I’m going to keep on speaking until the policies that are supposed to be implemented are really implemented, the policies that need to be changed, are changed, and the investments that need to be done, are done in the right way, whether it’s by the donors or whether it is by the government. And I’m going to continue speaking out until I ensure that no woman dies while giving life, because to me, one woman dying in childbirth is one too many.

The White Ribbon Alliance movement is about calling out, reaching out, to as many people as possible, because together we can go far. Our cause is everyone’s business. Together, we can join hands and work together to ensure that quality of care is achieved, dignity in care is achieved, and equitable care is really achieved across the board, not just in Kenya but across the world.

Thank youAngela Nguku

for playing your part.

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