Shadow Minister Rushanara Ali receives Birth Rights Banner
Aishah Begum Chair of Central Foundation School Youth Action Group
25th Jul 2012
The Central Foundation school Youth Action Group invited their MP Rushanara Ali (also Shadow Minister for International Development) to school to hear about the campaign they ran advocating maternal health rights for women across the world. Chair of the group, Aishah Begum, reports on her reaction to their campaign.
Pregnancy and bringing a new life into the world is supposed to be a time of happiness and joy for women. But this is not the case for many women in developing countries. We at the Oxfam youth group at Central Foundation Girls School, decided to look at the Birth Rights campaign that looks at maternal healthcare in developing countries and specifically Ghana.
What we learnt was quite shocking. 380,000 women die each year from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth and millions suffer from infection and disability. But this is preventable. Maternal mortality shouldn't exist in such a developed world. With the help of developed countries, maternal mortality can be abolished. Through this campaign we wanted to urge the UK government to fulfil their commitment and increase their overseas development assistance to 0.7% of GDP.
We decided to raise awareness in our school and we created a banner that acted as a petition. The banner displayed the words 'Birth Rights' across the centre. We also had a photo exhibition on display that was provided by Oxfam. The photos told the story of two pregnant women in Ghana. Many students and teachers felt moved enough to leave a small message on the banner conveying their thoughts.
We invited our MP, Rushanara Ali, into our school on 26 June to hear about the campaign. She is the shadow minister for International Development and therefore is especially interested in this issue of birth rights.
MP Rushanara Ali said: "I think it is fantastic to see the girls working on the Birth Rights campaign. Making sure women have access to maternal care is absolutely vital in developing countries and it is critical that the UK Government works to support this process. This campaign is very timely and it is a real inspiration to see the girls' passion and commitment."
She was really impressed with what we did and was interested in what we had to say. We asked her to present the banner and a letter we had written to Andrew Mitchell, the Secretary of State of International Development, on our behalf. Rushanara Ali told us that there is a lot of pressure on the government to increase the ODA and at the moment the government hasn't made a decision about whether they will increase it by the next budget. I think it is extremely important to put pressure on the MPs to stick to their 0.7% target as it
persuades the government that UK residents are in favour of overseas aid.
Although it was very nerve-racking to meet MP Rushanara Ali and present our campaign to her, we realised that she is just an ordinary person. She was really friendly and was genuinely interested. I think it is important to show our MPs that we care because they can help push our campaigns and persuade the government to do something about it.
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