IWD Special by Hon. Sylvia Ssinabulya
As we commemorate the International Women’s Day this year, I’d like to reflect on the theme “Inspiring change.” I will do this by paying tribute to three remarkable women who have inspired me and impacted my life tremendously. They have also brought hope thousands of women who, without them, would have died as they give life.
These three women are Professor Florence Mirembe, Dr. Jean Chamberlain and Olive Ssentumbre.
These three, alongside their colleague obstetricians and gynecologists in Uganda and Canada started a program to save mothers deep in the remote district of Tiboga (Uganda). They began offereing much needed emergency obstetric care, drastically cutting down the tragic maternal and newborn deaths that were occurring in the area.
Despite the progress, in 2004 the team realized that their efforts of obstetrics gynecology alone would not come to frutition. The factors that led to maternal mortality were diverse, and required multifaceted solutions. As a result, they designed an academic program; a Masters of Public Health Leadership degree that brought on board multi-professional medical workers to understand the problem. Each has played a role in advocating for reduction in maternal mortality and child morbidity in their own spheres of influence.
I had the honor to join the program in 2005 as one of the pioneer students. It has since produced over 300 post graduates in different fields who are advocates for ‘Save the Mothers ’ program. The challenge is big, but thanks to these women, so is the force and drive to tackle it.
I am grateful for the foresight of these three women, and owe all my advocacy work to them.
Hon. Sylvia Ssinabulya is a Member of Parliament for Mityana district, Uganda and chairperson of the Network of Women Ministers and Parliamentarians, which advocates for women’s reproductive health and family planning.
In December 2006, she introduced new maternal care legislation, which makes registration of maternal deaths compulsory, with the aim of targeting remedial action, such as establishing blood banks or obstetrical care, where it is most needed. She also initiated new legislation in Uganda to get maternal care on Uganda’s budget for the first time.
Hon. Ssinabulya firmly believes that African women’s access to contraceptives is not an issue of morality but rather of survival.
Sylvia is known throughout her district and the Parliament for her advocacy on behalf of mothers.
She was the Chairperson of the Network of African Ministers and Parliamentarians, NAWMP- Uganda Chapter. NAWMP was instrumental in ensuring that part of the loan obtained from the World Bank was specifically allocated to Family Planning and Reproductive Health commodities and supplies. She has served in parliament for 15 years.