Think equal, build smart, innovate for change
International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.
The 2019 theme “Think equal,build smart, innovate for change” focuses on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.
The achievement of the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals requires transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions, particularly when it comes to advancing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
Innovation and technology provide unprecedented opportunities, yet trends indicate a growing gender digital divide and women are under-represented in the field of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design. It prevents them from developing and influencing gender-responsive innovations to achieve transformative gains for society. From mobile banking to artificial intelligence and the internet of things, it is vital that women’s ideas and experiences equally influence the design and implementation of the innovations that shape our future societies.
Echoing the priority theme of the sixty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women , in 2019 we look to industry leaders, game-changing start-ups, social entrepreneurs, gender equality activists, and women innovators to examine the ways in which innovation can remove barriers and accelerate progress for gender equality, encourage investment in gender-responsive social systems, and build services and infrastructure that meet the needs of women and girls.
On 8 March 2019, join us as we celebrate a future in which innovation and technology creates unprecedented opportunities for women and girls to play an active role in building more inclusive systems, efficient services and sustainable infrastructure to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs and gender equality.
Gender equality and the Sustainable Development Goals
International Women’s Day is also an opportunity to consider how to accelerate the building momentum for the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal number 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; and number 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.
Some key targets of the 2030 Agenda
- By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes.
- By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education.
- End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
- Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
- Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
Story shared by parent of a teenage mother called Namatovu Zam, who gave birth to twins at 16 years. after almost survived death. MY Mothers’s day goes to her and many young women at the center.
In the start of 2017, her father died, the elder sisters suggested that everyone was to start living on their own. Being the last born at the age of 18, she decided to come to kampala to look for some work to do. She later got a job as a maid; she only managed to work for few months since she was always suffering from a severe headache and brutality from her obsesses. She later went back to village where she met a young man aged 23 who promised to take good care of her. She came to town with a young man and they stayed together for one week. She later went to look for another job. After some few weeks she realized that, she had missed her periods now she is pregnant, she went back to a young man’s place to tell her about her news. The young man denied the pregnancy and told her never to come back looking for him.
She had no jobs, and lost focus and hope, she started living on streets and in churches. When the pregnancy was around six months, she went to the village. Her elder sisters got mad about the pregnancy and they quickly advised her to abort. But fortunately, she resisted, not to kill the innocent baby, and she did not abort and was chased away angrily from home, she felt that everything was over, no hope, no money, no any assistance, she cried loud, thinking what she can do but all remained in vain, she was motivated to remain strong, that now it is the right time to stand firm no matter what.
She was given 5000 UGX by a Good Samaritan, she went back to Kampala but no where to stay, she started living in churches like Christian life church of pastor Jackson Ssenyonga in Bwaise, and Miracle center cathedral of Pastor Robert Kayanja Lubaga where she was receiving some help from the volunteers.
At Christian life church, it is where, she met a girl by names of Nakulima Winnie they interacted for minutes, she was good and told her that there is an organization called Pelletier teenage mothers foundation where she can get assistance, she directed her, she went to PTMOF, but God is good, her prayers were answered, she found good humanitarian people there, they counseled her, and gave her hope, they even allowed to assist her, since she was homeless, they gave her where to stay, she stayed there one day, but they connected her to her sister in Kajjansi, but, she remained there three days only, because the elder sisters directed her sister where she was living to chase her away, failure to do so, they are to come and chase her out, she escaped quietly, and went back to Christian life church, but still, the order came from pastor Sserwadda to chase all pregnant girls, those with children and elders.
Life became hard again, at Pelletier teenage mothers foundation there was no space where she can live with her pregnancy, her sisters chased her from all corners where she can get help, so, the matter worsens, she went back to streets, sleeping on veranders, and tree shades for couple of weeks, she met a woman called Musawo Jane in Bwaise, she gave her tea and what to eat, she told a bodaboda rider to take her to Lubaga miracle center cathedral of Pastor Robert Kayanja, she spent their 2 weeks since they was still chased because it is prohibited to deliver from church, she went again back on streets by then the pregnancy was around seven months.
She walked with her baby inside right from Lubaga heading where she don’t know, some times the sunshine and heavy rain barely hit her, she stopped on the church called worship house of pastor Wilson Bugembe, she slept there one day, and heading to a health center called Kawempe Mulago where she stayed 5 days getting medicine and other post natal care for free, because she explained her story to doctor, he was touched and decided to assist her for free.
From there, she continued her Journey, walking while sleeping on peoples retail shops, petrol stations, verandas, and streets, she went back to Christian life church, by then she was 8 moths pregnant, from there, she prayed to Lord for couple of weeks cried to him, to save me from this situation, to deliver well. I went to Kawempe Mulago for check up and to get medicine, that’s where she gave birth to her two little ones Twins (boys)
“I don’t know what to say, but it’s a blessing from God, the holly spirit that Made those mothers and fathers from Pelletier teenage mothers foundation, madam Alice, Mr. Lukonge Achilees and Madam Solome Nanvule, when you have bee rejected by your relatives, chased everywhere, but you found hope from people you don’t know!!! May lord grant them all the blessings?” I am Learning (hairdressing) at (PTMOF) i hope to start my own business after completing the course.
Preparing and delivering Twins: The last days story of a single mother who lived on street, and give birth to Miracle and Favour.
And the moment that I have been anticipating for days, months, and years even has come. I took a deep breath and pushed down my baby with own power while I followed my body. Before my breath finished, my first baby came sliding out of me and the next follows. While I exhaled, I quietly said that they are born. They put my twin into my arms even before cutting their umbilical cord. They were warm, wet, soft, and smelled sweet. They screamed joyfully, and I thanked them repeatedly for giving me this wonderful experience. The doctors and nurses were looking on at that remarkable moment when our twin joined my family, confused, happy, and teary eyed. They stared at us with questioning expressions because they had just watched a birth so vastly different from the fearful births they had witnessed in the past—fearfulness that resulted from the negative birth stories that have been handed down to women for years especially women who passed through difficult life and have eroded their confidence and power regarding birth. How had it come to this?
Forty weeks and 5 days into the pregnancy, my Twins and I were still together. In life I don’t wished anyone to live in, I felt their movements less now—they were smaller than they had been but stronger. My friends on streets, at least 20 people checking on me every day where I used to sleep on cement to ask when I will give birth and scaring me by saying things like, ―What if something’s wrong with the baby?‖ no one among my brothers and sisters wanted to know about my life, My mother and Father up in the sky/heaven may be were watching and praying for me, and waiting impatiently for their first grandson, constantly saying, ―It’s high time the baby made an appearance.‖ Because they used to say that when they are still alive, they loved me so much. I became so fed up, especially in the last 10 days of my pregnancy. I suggested to the close friends-to-be that they not tell anyone the approximate birth date to avoid similar experiences.
I made myself believe that my Twins would be born in the night, having heard somewhere that animals that sleep in the daytime birth in the night and vice versa (which seemed to show that privacy and protection are important in nature.) In the weeks and days leading up to my due date, I tried my best to go to sleep in people’s houses, or people’s veranders early every day so as not to be tired when I finally went into labor. I would fall asleep rubbing my abdomen and thinking, ―Maybe I’ll smell you tonight babies.‖ But when morning came, I would wake to find my babies was still saying, ―Good morning, mommy!‖ from my womb. It was another such morning when I went to the toilet of one of good Samaritan and saw the first thrilling sign that the birth was finally going to happen. I had to go to nearby church to pray, There came a lady dressed well, totally in the same age group, she was from Pelletier teenage mothers foundation (PTMOF) it was the first sign that Miracle exists, and God is always there for the poor, she told me about the services they are offering, at first I was in fear of strangers but finally I trusted her since we met at the church.
She leads me to where she stay, I found older woman at home, to find that she was the mother of that lady I met, but I told them everything I passed through, they gave me an emergence shelter, when the contractions became more frequent. I put my hand on my abdomen and could feel uterine contractions, but they were not bothering me at all. We had a nice family breakfast, took a walk with those around for 2 hours, and went to the market, and then I cleaned my house in a squatting position. (Knowing that squatting is one of the most appropriate positions during labor because it enables the baby to move more easily in the birth canal [ Balaskas, 1992 ], I was seeking any excuse to squat.) That evening, I was feeling quite energetic and dynamic. At around 9:00 p.m., while we were all watching TV together as family, I fell asleep on the living room sofa. At 11 p.m., The mother of Winnie woke me up to tell me to go to my bed, but by then I felt wide awake, so she went to bed herself—a relief to me because I was sure she would treat me like an invalid if she thought the birth was imminent.
My new sisters at the centre was not sleepy either, so we decided to watch a documentary about dolphins giving birth. I told them that my babies would come to the world that day, but one called Mariam just laughed and said, ―The dolphin might be giving birth today, but you won’t.‖ Then they all decided to go to bed. I was having contractions, but I would not have even noticed them had I not put my hand on my abdomen. I was also feeling some pressure on my perineum, but the contractions I had felt during the pregnancy had disturbed me more. I decided to take a shower, and the warm water combined with the smell of the shampoo made me feel great. All was available, I never used them in my life, and the good life I got at the last days of my pregnancy I never thought of living in such life after the death of my mother and father at an early age. I blow dried my hair, put on some nail polish, prepared the clothes I would wear to go to the hospital, and ate an apple. Then, I finally went to bed. At around 2:00 a.m., I put my hand on my abdomen and tried to time my contractions, which by now were frequent and long lasting. Because of the stories of labor pains that I still had in my mind, however, I didn’t think they could be birth contractions.
While I was relaxing my whole body, I suddenly felt nauseous and vomited. The Mother of Winnie called Mrs Alice and Winnie both woke up, and Winnie said to me, ―It cannot be time for birth, but perhaps something is wrong. We should go to the hospital.‖ We grabbed the already-packed bags, got in the car, and turned on an enjoyable praise song to listen to during the drive. On the way, I continued with my breathing and relaxation exercises. I could sense an amazing cocktail of hormones flowing through my body. I had never felt so happy, energetic, and motivated. These were the last moments of my babies inside me, and we were enjoying it! Everybody was calm as we headed to the delivery room.
It was 2:50 a.m. The team on night duty was sitting around eating a pizza. I told them, ―Don’t trouble yourselves, it’s not time for the birth. We just came in for a checkup.‖ They loved the way I was jocking around! All laughed loud! The on-duty doctor put a hand on my abdomen and said, ―The contractions are severe. I think I should examine you.‖ I lay on the examination couch and he made a vaginal examination. The doctor told me that they are Twins! I said what!? At that point, I collected myself and asked the personnel to make the head of the bed as upright as possible. Suddenly, just as I was about to stand up, I felt severe pressure on my perineum. At the same time, I felt like I would explode with excitement. Odent (2003) notes that with births where there is no intervention or fear, a sudden adrenaline rush can occur just before the fetal ejection reflex.
This is exactly what happened in my birth. Overcome by a sensation like the thrill you get at the moment you parachute off a mountainside and shout out with joy at the top of your voice, I screamed uncontrollably. Realizing that the doctor, Mrs Alice, and the nurse were all staring at me in amazement, I told them, ―Everything’s okay, don’t worry. There is no pain, just a sudden adrenaline rush.‖ Odent (2003) notes that, with births where there is no intervention or fear, a sudden adrenaline rush can occur just before the fetal ejection reflex. This is what happened in my birth. I settled myself back onto the bed and felt the urge to push. My body position was as straight as possible. I took a deep breath and pushed my first baby downward with all my power. ―Push slowly,‖ my birth doctor warned me. ―The baby’s coming too fast. After few minutes, I pushed the second baby! Doctor told me! Again ―Push slowly,‖ I’ll have to do an episiotomy.‖ But I just could not slow myself down, and the episiotomy was done at the last moment. In my terms, it was a natural birth throughout, without any intervention other than the episiotomy. Is it still possible, therefore, to call this a natural birth? I think it is. It was completely natural because the intervention happened only when necessary.
Two or 3 weeks later, when I had the chance to make some time for myself and think about the birth, I wondered whether the episiotomy might have been unnecessary. After all, I had given myself regular perineal massages every day after the 30th week of my pregnancy specifically to avoid perineal laceration or an episiotomy, just as suggested by evidence-based practice (Berghella, Baxter, & Chauhan, 2008). I thought my perineum was ready for the birth. Why did they have to do an episiotomy? I had been in a squatting position, which is the most appropriate position for birth, and had pushed the babies by grasping and pulling my knees up toward me. The babies came out of my vagina very quickly both because I pushed my babies uncontrollably fast, and because of the fetal ejection reflex combined with an adrenaline rush. Perhaps if I had been in the ―polar bear‖ position Mongan (2005) suggested for quick delivery, I would have been able to give birth without the need for an episiotomy.
I was in a state of shock after the delivery, unable to believe my Twins was now in my arms. It was 3:15 a.m. Just 25 minutes had passed since I had gone into the delivery room. The birth was not the way some people had described it. It was totally painless, joyful, exciting, and quick. My Twins was so good, Looking healthy. At first, They greeted the world with loud screams, presumably because of the effects of the hormone cocktail, but they calmed down after they was cradled in my arms and heard me say, ―Welcome, my Twins. I have been waiting for you for so long. I love you so much, do not cry.‖ They began looking around curiously with their eyes wide open. One named Wasswa Miracle and the other named Kato Favour. I am Zam Namatovu