Knapen: maternal mortality is unacceptable

It is vital for the international community to do everything it can to support sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for women and girls. And the Netherlands, in particular, can make a special contribution. This was Ben Knapen’s message when he was presented with a petition on Moedernacht (the eve of Mother’s Day).

Mr Knapen, the Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation, believes it is ‘simply unacceptable’ that 350,000 women die worldwide each year as a result of complications arising out of pregnancy and childbirth. He added that the Netherlands can play an important role in addressing the problem. ‘In Dutch society we are quick to raise the importance of gender equality. Our open and direct way of communicating allows us to broach taboo issues.’

The minister was presented with a list of recommendations. Mr Knapen was extremely grateful to the organisers for drawing attention to this important subject, which also happens to be one of the four priority themes in his development policy. The world over, the Netherlands invests in sex education, access to contraceptives and the protection of the rights of women and young people.

The campaign placed 35 silhouettes of pregnant women on the Plein in The Hague, with blue flashing lights next to them. Each silhouette represents 10,000 of the women who die each year.