Monday, March 22, 2010

Maternal deaths worry UN agency

By Beldina Nyakeke
About 8,100 women and girls in the country die annually during pregnancy and child delivery.

Speaking during a one-day media seminar on 15 years after Beijing, held in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) country representative in Tanzania, Dr Julitta Onabanjo, spoke of the need for sexual and reproductive health education for women and girls in the country.

She explained that approximately 24 women and girls die each day for lack of sexual reproductive health education which is fundamental to women and girls' empowerment to achieve gender equality.

Dr Onabanjo said in order to overcome the problem, there should be joint efforts by the government and other stakeholders to end gender violence.

“Fighting violence against women and girls and promotion of relationships based on shared responsibilities, mutual trust and respect will lead to a more just, prosperous and peaceful society,“ she said.

She commended Tanzania for adopting the Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act of 1998, and making it part of the penal code.

However, there are not adequate services for victims of sexual violence.

She said as quarter of Tanzanian girls aged 15-19 are made pregnant or are already mothers, and that 8,000 girls drop out from school every year due to pregnancies, there is an urgent need for adolescent girls to stay in school and complete their education to avoid early marriages.

Dr Onabanjo asked the media to play its part to raise the awareness about the issue of gender equality.

She said according to Tanzania demographic and health survey of 2004 and Tanzania HIV/Aids and Malaria indicator survey of 2007/8, millions of women do not regularly access any mass media.

She noted that 83 per cent of Tanzanian women do not read newspapers, 80 per cent do not watch television and 44 per cent do not listen to radio broadcasts.

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