Respectful Maternity Care: Every Woman's Right
In every country and community in the world, pregnancy and childbirth are events of great significance in the lives of women and families as well as a time of intense vulnerability. The relationship with maternity caregivers and the maternity care system during this period is incredibly important.
In addition to bringing vital, potentially lifesaving health services, women's experiences with maternity caregivers have the potential to empower and comfort or to inflict lasting damage and emotional trauma. Either way, women's memories of their childbearing experiences stay with them for a lifetime. Imagine the personal treatment you would expect from a maternity care provider entrusted to help you or a woman you love give birth.
Unfortunately, too many women experience care that does not match this image. Too often, pregnant women seeking maternity care receive ill treatment that ranges from relatively subtle disrespect of their autonomy and dignity to outright abuse: physical assault, verbal insults, discrimination, abandonment, or detention in facilities for failure to pay. Disrespect and abuse of women during maternity care is a problem that has been obscured by a "veil of silence" and can significantly impact women’s willingness to seek out life-saving maternity care in facilities.
White Ribbon Alliance Point of View
The White Ribbon Alliance envisions a world in which a woman’s right to Respectful Maternity Care is embedded at all levels of all maternal health systems around the globe and that these rights are reflected in a sense of entitlement among women.
What We Are Doing
WRA is working to persuade key stakeholders to endorse the Respectful Maternity Care Rights Charter and to build national, regional and global awareness.
- WRA and Respectful Maternity Care partners developed a suite of advocacy tools highlighting RMC as a basic human right. These tools include: The Respectful Maternity Care Charter: The Universal Rights of Childbearing Women, featuring international declarations and conventions which affirm women’s rights to respectful maternity care.
WRA is supporting the implementation of national level advocacy strategies and action plans to promote Respectful Maternity Care and increase social accountability.
- In Nepal, WRA’s National Alliance, Safe Motherhood Network Federation is advocating for Respectful Maternity Care to be included in the “Safe Motherhood and Newborn Health Care Bill” which is currently under review by Nepal’s Ministry of Health & Population.
- WRA National Alliances in Yemen, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, and Bangladesh are in the process of developing strategies and action plans to promote respectful maternity care in their countries.
WRA unites a growing multi-sector community of concern to share information, jointly strategize and harmonize efforts in pursuit of the shared common goal: advancing respectful maternity care as the standard embedded at all levels of all maternal health systems around the globe.
If you would like to cite the charter, below is the appropriate citation:
Respectful Maternity Care Advisory Council, White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood. (2011). Respectful maternity care: the universal rights of childbearing women. Washington, DC: WRA. Retrieved [date]
For inquiries regarding translations of Respectful Maternity Care materials, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “RMC Translations”
- Respectful Maternity Care endorsed at the International Day of the Midwife in Rwanda
Excerpt: Rwandan midwives showed their bravery and commitment to improvements in care by providing supportive anecdotal and observed statements for each of the seven categories of disrespect and abuse in maternity care highlighted by the RMC campaign.
- A Happy Midwife for Healthier Mothers
Critical shortage in midwives, poor working conditions, uneven distribution between urban and rural areas, and negative perception of the midwifery profession, are some of the challenges that hinder midwives ability to provide quality care in Malawi.