International Women's Day 2014 In 1910 Clara Zetkin, Leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, presented the idea for an International Women’s Day while attending the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. 100 women from over 17 countries attended the conference that year, the result was the unanimous approval of the establishment of such a date. In 1911, the first International Women’s Day was honored on March 19th in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. For the past century International Women’s Day has flourished into a global day of recognition. On March 8th, developed and developing countries alike, will stand in solidarity to celebrate and commemorate women and their achievements worldwide.

The 5th Millennium Development Goal aims at improving maternal health and the multitude of other issues that are intrinsically linked to the well being of mothers including pre- and post- natal care, access to contraception, the use of skilled birth attendants, and decreased adolescent birthing rates. Notably, the most impoverished women across the globe are at the greatest risk for higher maternal mortality rates. A recent article entitled ‘Addressing invisibility, inferiority, and powerlessness to achieve gains in maternal health for ultra-poor women’ condenses the misconception in global health that “maternal health research tends to view poverty as simply a scarcity of material resources rather than recognizing these intersecting inequalities, or worse still focuses predominantly on the technical aspects of service delivery.” The authors – Zubia Mumtaz, Sarah Salway, Afshan Bhatti, and Lynn McIntyre –  analyzed the injustices of poverty in rural Pakistan and the effects it has on what they deem ultra poor women or those that comprise the Kammi caste.

The concerns for women in poverty and the detrimental effects the structure of poverty has on access to health services are concerns that parallel Dr. Zaidi’s plan in Rehri Goth. These concerns include extremely high illiteracy rates, poor sanitation and living conditions, and an overall inability to achieve a higher income level or equitable equality. The main source of income for men living within the Rehri Goth province continues to be provisions from fishing, while the majority of women earn no income at all. Dr. Zaidi’s intervention addresses the most marginalized population through the provision of antenatal care and counseling by identifying and then visiting the household of pregnant women every three months during pregnancy. She will also provide access to skilled delivery by providing services for women, including emergency obstetric care and transport to a government health facility. The intervention will deliver, community driven, newborn and infant care to ensure the relative health of infants, nutritional supplementation, and the promotion of immunizations for all children living in Rehri Goth.

On International Women’s Day, we encourage you to share the stories of inspirational women leaders working hard to improve maternal, infant and child health. Whose story has inspired you?

Dr. Anita Zaidi Rehri Goth