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UNICEF Celebrates International Women's Day in District Nankana

NANKANA SAHIB, 3 MARCH 2008 – At a commemoration of International Women's Day 2008, the district government Nankana and UNICEF Pakistan honoured the women who are at the frontline of efforts to improve health and education in rural areas, and work to create a better future for the children of Pakistan. At present, over 1,100 Pakistani children under five years of age die every day – of these, 600 will be less than a month old. Most of these deaths could be prevented if mothers were educated and informed, and had access to basic medical aid.

"Women teachers and health professionals are essential to develop a society where all girls and boys go to school and live healthy and fulfilling lives," said Martin Mogwanja, UNICEF Country Representative for Pakistan. "Research shows that girls' enrolment rises if women teachers are present. Women health workers, such as Lady Health Workers and Lady Health Visitors, can bring basic medical information and care to the doorstep, even in remote rural communities."

About 70 per cent of women in rural Pakistan deliver at home, without a skilled birth attendant. This contributes significantly to the country's high maternal mortality: one woman dies in childbirth related complication every twenty minutes here. To help address this in Nankana and other districts, UNICEF supports an innovative Community Midwife training programme, in which young women are trained to provide expert services to pregnant women through Midwifery Homes established in their home communities, each serving 10,000 people in the remotest areas of the district.

By providing education, medical services and information in their home communities, these Community Midwives, Lady Health Workers and Visitors, and women teachers have overcome professional, domestic and community hurdles to stand at the forefront of efforts to improve the health, lives and well-being of women and children in Pakistan.

Over 100 female service providers participated in a workshop to discuss the issues confronting their professional and personal lives. Later, a representative from each of the working groups presented a set of recommendations at the formal session which was attended by the District Coordination Officer Nankana, Mr. Fazeel Asghar, all Executive officers of the district and representatives from the media.



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