Friday, July 24, 2009

State of the ‘Nanays’

Anticipating the State of the Nation Address next Monday is another SONA, the “State of the Nanay Address” taking place this afternoon at the University of the Philippines Bahay ng Alumni.

This alternative SONA is born of civil society’s “frustration over the deliberate sidetracking of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill in Congress,” said Elizabeth Angsioco, secretary general of the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN), composed of various organizations involved in reproductive health and women’s rights. “We are clueless as to whether the President will acknowledge the importance of the bill’s passage in her official SONA,” added Angsioco, and the “State of the Nanay Address,” she said, is the group’s way of pointing out that the reproductive health of mothers, children, women and men is as important as her other priorities.

Since it’s doubtful if the President will even deign to mention reproductive health in her SONA (she is said to be “allergic” to the term which is commonly used in the United Nations and by the rest of the world), the alternative SONA could also be a way of informing the Filipino public just how mothers have been faring under the Arroyo administration.

It has often been mentioned in this space that an average of 11 Filipino women die every day in this country due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. If the kidnap and rape of the young daughter of a narcotics agent can so enrage the President as to make her reconsider her long-standing policy against carrying out the death penalty, shouldn’t the daily, preventable deaths of 11 women move her in equal measure? After all, she is a woman, a mother, and a grandmother. Maternal deaths are very much a part of reproductive health.

Source: Rina Jimenez David. At Large. Philippine Daily Inquirer. July 22, 2009

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