By Paule Rigaud and Pauline Dionisi, West Africa campaigners at Amnesty International.
“We don’t want to work against the authorities but with them,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International researcher on West Africa at the launch of our report on maternal health in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
The audience showed a great interest in the issue and the obstacles preventing women from having their right to health respected. Several people stressed the necessity of citizen actions that would allow civil society to monitor access to maternal health.
The press conference also gave us the opportunity to launch our caravan. The caravan will be touring the country to help secure the long-term support of the local communities and authorities for our campaign. It will collect the voices of women and communities and put them to the authorities during the official meetings that will take place at the end of this trip.
The first destination on the caravan’s journey was the town of Kaya, located 100 km north of Ouagadougou. A local Amnesty International group led the activities with the help of other partner NGOs.
We began with a meeting with more than 100 women, many of them accompanied by their children. After showing a film telling the story of a pregnant woman who died before reaching a health centre, the women discussed the following question: “What could have been done to save this woman?”
All the women had answers. They discussed the direct and indirect causes of this death. Many of them gave a piece of the loincloth (pagne) in support of our campaign.