Joint statement on Canada’s Maternal/Child Health Initiative
Maternal health is about more than saving the lives of women and children. It’s about fundamental human rights: the right of a woman to control her sexual health; the right of women and men to access sex education and contraception; and the right of women to plan and space childbirths.

Reproductive rights will only be achieved when inequalities between women and men are overcome. Only then will we end the injustice of one thousand women dying each day due to pregnancy-related causes. In most of the world, we’re far from securing reproductive rights. 350,000 women die each year in pregnancy or childbirth – that’s one every minute. Nearly 15 per cent of these deaths – one every eight minutes – is a result of unsafe abortion. 137 million women in developing countries who say they do not want to have a child at this time have no access to modern methods of contraception. It’s time we address these facts. It’s time world leaders recognize their responsibility to protect women’s reproductive rights.

We are women from across Canada, standing in solidarity with women and men around the world, to demand the G8’s special initiative on maternal and child health:

• recognizes gender inequality as one of the key factors affecting women’s health

• supports concrete actions to secure equality, including action to end violence against women

• commits to advancing the reproductive health and rights of all

• ensures universal access to comprehensive healthcare, with special attention to expectant mothers

• is financed with new, additional funds, not repackaged money taken from other crucial aid commitments.

We implore the G8 to keep its promises to the world’s poor, ensuring the maternal health initiative protects women’s rights and advances gender justice.

Jessica Yee
Executive Director, Native Youth Sexual Health Network

Cindy Blackstock
PhD, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada

Lilian Allen
Dub Poet & Cultural Strategist

Cara Banks
Chair of the Prairie Lily Feminist Society

Louise Binder
Chair, Canadian Treatment Action Council

Alison Brewin
Executive Director, West Coast LEAF

Norah Currie
Writer, Activist

Zahra Dhanani

Legal Director, Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC)

Martha Friendly
Executive Director, Childcare Resource and Research Unit

Liyu Guo
Anti-Poverty Activist

Margaret Hancock
Executive Director, Family Service Toronto

Ashika Iqbal
Student Activist, Memorial University

Audrey M. Johnson
Executive Director, Women’s Legal Education & Action Fund (LEAF) National Office

Donna S. Lero,
Ph.D. Jarislowsky Chair in Families and Work Centre for Families, Work & Well-Being, University of Guelph

Michele Landsberg
Officer of the Order of Canada (OC)

Monica Lysack
Education Consultant and Activist

Jacquie Maund
Anti-poverty activist

Ann McCrorie
Chair of the Early Learning Childcare Coalition of Saskatchewan

Sheelah McLean
PhD Candidate (Anti-Racist Anti-Oppressive Education), University of Saskatchewan

Peggy Nash
Senior Representative, Canadian Auto Workers Union

Lana Payne
President Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour

Kim Phuc Phan Thi
Founder of the Kim Foundation International

Susan Prentice
Professor of Sociology, University of Manitoba

Angela Robertson
Anti-Poverty Feminist Activist

Linda Ross
President/CEO Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women (Nfld and Labrador)

Laurel Rothman
Grandmother & anti-child poverty activist

Angela Schira
Secretary-Treasurer, BC Federation of Labour

Paulette Senior
Executive Director, YWCA

Dr. Priscilla Settee
Associate Professor, Department of Native Studies, University of Saskatchewan

Jane Staschuk
Director, Women’s Programs, Education & Training, BC Federation of Labour

Camille Stengel
University of Victoria Graduate Student

Judi Richards
Musician and Oxfam Quebec Ambassador

Wangari Tharao
Programs & Research Manager, Women’s Health in Women’s Hands

Laure Waridel
Sociologist and Author

Nettie Wiebe
Former President, National Farmers Union

Armine Yalnizyan

Alexa Conradi
President, Quebec Women’s Federation