Unmarried women say access to birth control has declined significantly here. Unlikely to receive contraceptives at a hospital or clinic, single women turn to pharmacies, where expired or fake birth control is taking a toll on their health.
Women in Democratic Republic of Congo, who face a high risk of being raped because sexual violence is used as a weapon of war there, also suffer from complex health problems, often related to pregnancy and childbirth. HEAL Africa, which offers reconstructive surgery for women who have fistulas, also provides safe transport for women who live in remote areas that are sometimes surrounded by violent militias.
There’s a widespread belief in Zimbabwe that vaginal growths, locally called “sare,” cause infertility, miscarriage and the deaths of healthy newborns and even older children, and women pay traditional healers to cut away the growths. Doctors caution that the procedure can be dangerous when done by those without medical training and may cause infection and long-term problems, but happy mothers believe it has worked for them.
Women who seek clandestine abortions in Argentina face medical risks and disapproval. But abortion rights advocates see changes in public opinion, and predict a bill to decriminalize abortions in the first 14 weeks of gestation will be passed in 2017.
Women get plenty of messages from the alcoholic-beverage industry promoting consumption. But most women aren’t getting the message that they shouldn’t drink while pregnant. And now the government is taking steps to change that.
In DRC, women and girls who experience sexual violence are often stigmatized and rejected by the community and family members. Staff members of a new counseling facility are going door-to-door educating the community about gender-based violence while providing free counseling and medical resources to those who need it.
Few Haitians have access to formal health clinics where they can receive basic gynecological care, let alone give birth to their children. Traditional midwives attend most births in the country, even when the women giving birth can’t afford to pay them.
Pregnant students struggle with the dual challenge of keeping up with studies and the high costs of antenatal care. In a nation where rules still exist that can force pregnant women to leave school, students at the National University of Science and Technology are lobbying for a health package for pregnant students.
Many expectant mothers in Uganda choose to travel long distances and forgo free public health care in favor of traditional birth attendants, who provide a more comfortable childbirth experience, they say. There’s just one problem: Traditional birth attendants were outlawed eight years ago.
Eleven years ago, the Argentine government passed a law guaranteeing the right of all students in public and private schools to receive comprehensive sex education. But as budget cuts threaten the national sex education program, upholding that guarantee has fallen to independent organizations and volunteers.