WRA Sweden is working to harmonize Swedish development aid policies on maternal health with other clusters (EU, Scandanavia, UK), while focusing on respectful maternity care and holding the Swedish government responsible for an increased effort to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.
April 26, 2011
WRA President Theresa Shaver, Ugandan MP and WRA Board Member Beatrice Rwakimari and Mabel van Oranje CEO of The Elders visit WRA Sweden for Parliamentary Hearing on Maternal Health
WRA Sweden (WRA SE) were thrilled over the opportunity to welcome WRA President TheresaShaver, Beatrice Rwakimari, Uganda Member of Parliament and WRA Global Board Member, and Mabel van Oranje, CEO of The Elders, to Sweden. They had come to speak at the Parliamentary Hearing that WRA SE and partner and member organizations were hosting on 13th April 2011.
Theresa Shaver – who stayed for five days in total – and WRA SE founder Barbara Davies met with the General Secretary of Save the Children Sweden, Elisabeth Dahlin. (Amazingly, Theresa and Elisabeth seemed to have met once in Vietnam and share mutual acquaintances!) Later that evening, Theresa was the guest of honor at an informal meeting for WRA SE Volunteers and Founding Members which was held at the Swedish Nurses' premises. The volunteers and members were delighted to have the opportunity to meet Theresa in person and engage in discussion about WRA's work and the issue of Mother Mortality.
Before the Parliamentary Hearing, Barbara Davies, Theresa Shaver, Beatrice Rwakimari and Mabel van Oranje visited the Division of Global Health/IHCAR at Karolinska Institutet (KI) and learned about KI's mission and the Nobel Prize. Then it was time for the Hearing to take place at the Swedish House of Parliament. The newly elected Chair of WRA SE, Professor Emerita Britt-Marie Landgren, who is Sweden's first female professor of obstetrics and gynecology, also spoke. In summary, the hearing was a huge success; the MPs were very pleased by the informative content of the presentations.
Theresa Shaver, Britt-Marie Landgren, Barbara Davies and WRA Sweden Board member Nina Wahlin enjoyed lunch with WRA Sweden's Ambassador Anna Björk, who is a permanent member of the Royal Dramatic Theater and has appeared in many plays, film productions and TV. Later in the evening, the WRA SE Board, donors and representatives of member and partner organizations were warmly welcomed to Swedish Society of Medicine by Mats Baiuer, President of the Swedish Medical Association. There Theresa gave a presentation about WRA; our history, how we work and how we are different from the normal NGO model.
Barbara and Theresa met with Clara Gumpert, Dean of Research Education at KI and responsible for KI's external research collaboration. Clara promised to follow up with contacts and information about research projects and possible collaboration relating to MDG5- and SRHR-issues and strengthening health care systems.
WRA SE wishes to sincerely thank Theresa Shaver, Beatrice Rwikamari and Mabel van Oranje for their visit and invaluable contribution to the Parliamentary Hearing.
Volunteer Buffet and Meeting [left to right] Britth-Marie Langren, Natalie Bekier Djert, Barbara Davies, Theresa Shaver, Christina Wahlström, Kristina Ramstedt, Malin Letho, Ida Wiklund, Nina Wahlin
[left to right] Theresa Shaver, Anna Bjork, Beatrice Rwakimari
[left to right] Nina Wahlin, Barbara Davies, Britt-Marie Landgren, Beatrice Rwakimari, Theresa Shaver
Hearing in Sweden House of Parliament
Sweden Engages Youth and Trains Volunteers in Safe Motherhood
Barbara Davies with media students and teachers at Uppsala University
Barbara Davies guest lecturer at Uppsala University
WRA Sweden and the Department of Informatics and Media at Uppsala University took important step in building cooperation when Barbara Davies held a lecture for media students. Not many eyes were dry after seeing films and talking about the disgraceful facts of maternal mortality and morbidity. These future media professionals can help our campaign by creating advertising content, running social media campaign or shooting a film.
New Member Organizations
We welcome several powerful organizations which have recently joined WRA, including The Swedish Society of Medicine, Swedish Women's Lobby, Sveriges Kvinnliga Läkares Förening (Swedish Medical Women's Association), IMFSA (medical students) and The Swedish Federation of Immigrant Women's Association. We are thrilled!
WRA Sweden Volunteers meet monthly and receive training from our Volunteer Manager, Midwife Irene Ivarsson who has worked two decades in Africa. We have so far learned about the common reasons for maternal mortality and female genital mutilation. Can't wait to hear more!
WRA Sweden members attended a members' conference on 5 February in order to review and revise our statutes and formulate motions to the upcoming AGM in 5 April. Members also reviewed progress on our Strategic Plan.
Project planning is under way for Mothers' Day with several member and partner organizations cooperating to raise awareness and advocate progress on MDG5. WRA Sweden celebrated International Women's Day in Stockholm.
The first female professor in obstetrics and gynaecology in Sweden, Professor Emerita Britt-Marie Landgren, now works actively for WRA Sweden. This strong and influential woman who fights with great determination for women's reproductive health will be a fantastic addition to our operations and alliance.
WRA Sweden Gains Support from Government Officials, Women's Organizations and a New Ambassador
Sweden prioritizes maternal health at United Nations Millennium Development Goals meeting
"It is unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of women die every year from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. The causes of maternal mortality are well-known and, in most cases, preventable," Sweden's Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson said at the United Nations high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in September.
The Minister made MDG 5 to improve maternal health the focal point of her speech as a result of actions taken by WRA Sweden. WRA Sweden and partners had earlier met Gunilla Carlsson to deliver thousands of protest postcards signed during our Mothers Day manifestation in May. The Minister and her staff gave WRA and partners an hour of her time to hear our demands to give maternal mortality higher priority, to count each maternal death and to include all maternal deaths in official statistics. Also, a photo of Mercy Ibraye-George of Nigeria with her tragic story (page 10) on the reverse was presented to Gunilla Carlsson as a constant reminder to prioritize MDG 5 and the women who lose their lives to preventable maternal mortality.
"Maternal health must be addressed within a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights. There is a strong link to gender equality, which is the best way to ensure a woman's right to her own body. Sweden will continue to defend, protect and promote these rights," Gunilla Carlsson summarized in her speech.
Swedish Women's Lobby
On the 23rd of October, Barbara Davies, Founder of WRA Sweden, was invited to present WRA at a conference of the Swedish Women's Lobby. The presentation, attended by 40 chairs of Swedish women´s organizations, raised great interest in our mission as well as in cooperation. In the future, WRA Sweden is hopeful that we will be able to engage the European Women´s Lobby as well.
WRA Sweden finds a home
WRA Sweden moved into our first premises in November. Our institutional home is with Mama Mia at their maternal health clinic in Kista Galleria, a large shopping center in northern Stockholm. We are most appreciative of Mama Mia's generous support.
Our first Ambassador
Anna Björk is our first Ambassador. Anna is an actress and part of the permanent ensemble of Sweden's national stage for "spoken drama", The Royal Dramatic Theatre. She has also appeared in numerous television productions and films. Anna is a mum to a beautiful toddler and feels very strongly about the importance of maternal health. We are thrilled to have her support!