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Violence against women and girls and other forms of gender discrimination devastate the lives of millions of women and do not distinguish among nation, culture, or creed.

One in three women worldwide has been beaten, raped, or abused in her lifetime. Maternal mortality rates have actually risen in the US, and remain scandalously high around the world, with a woman dying a pregnancy-related death every 90 seconds. Lack of access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care contributes to maternal mortality, sexually transmitted infections and other ill-health outcomes. Women continue to suffer disproportionately during armed conflict, accounting for 90% of all civilian casualties.

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Exciting Progress for Health Care Equality!

A mother holds her infant during a check-up at a clinic for low-income families. ©John Moore/Getty Images

As Amnesty International’s recent reports on maternal health  have highlighted, discrimination in health care in the United States is severe and pervasive. But recently introduced legislation would help end discrimination and improve the quality of health care in the United States.

Last month, Congresswoman Barbara Lee from California introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011 (HEAA).  Passing this legislation will help eliminate disparities in access to health care and in health outcomes for communities of color. The HEAA ensures that a full range of culturally appropriate public health services are available and accessible to communities of color, and that services are available in the languages used by those communities.  The bill also provides training opportunities for health care workers to better address particular health issues facing marginalized communities.

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Is Sierra Leone’s Free Healthcare Program for Pregnant Women and Children Working?

By Kim Lanegran, Amnesty USA Country Specialist for Sierra Leone

sierra leone mother and babyIt’s been a little over a year since the government of Sierra Leone launched its groundbreaking free healthcare program for children and pregnant women.

While we’re thrilled about the good news — more women now receive pre and post-natal health care, over 39,000 women delivered their babies in health care facilities, and many lives have been saved — there is still a lot to be done.

Amnesty International’s new report on the Free Health Policy finds that free adequate care is simply not being delivered.

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Challenges and Opportunities for Women in the New South Sudan

via Wikipedia

On Saturday, a new nation was born: the Republic of South Sudan.

Formerly a semi-autonomous region within the Republic of Sudan, the new state is the result of a referendum on independence in which roughly 99% of the predominantly African, Christian or animist Southerners elected to split from the largely Muslim, Arab North.

For more than two decades, the two had been engaged in Africa’s longest civil war, a conflict in which staggering numbers of innocent civilians paid the price: 4 million displaced, 2 million killed and 2 million women raped.

A Violent Peace
Although a 2005 peace accord officially ended the war and guaranteed the South the right to peaceably choose whether or not to form its own state, violence continues in disputed territories of Southern Kordofan and Abyei.

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Amnesty, Aung San Suu Kyi and the U2 360 Tour

The 2nd North American leg of the U2 360 Tour kicked off this past weekend in Denver with Amnesty International volunteers in full force! Amnesty has been on the road with U2′s 360 tour since the first date in Barcelona back in June 2009.

Globally, Amnesty has gathered over 100,000 signatures supporting our Demand Dignity campaign. Not to mention on average, the thousands of people in each stadium who have seen our bright yellow shirts and have heard Bono mention Amnesty International from the stage!

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Combating Maternal Mortality Crucial To Meeting MDGs

Maternal Health in PeruMost maternal deaths are entirely preventable. Yet, while the world is making progress in fighting maternal mortality, far too many women are still losing their lives.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the most prominent global anti-poverty initiative ever undertaken.  The goals set out targets for alleviating extreme poverty, including reducing maternal deaths by 75% (MDG5), by 2015. However, even this modest target will not be met by the deadline unless efforts are significantly stepped up.

Meeting the maternal mortality target, for example, would require a 5.5% annual reduction in maternal deaths since 1990, and the world has seen only 2.3% annual improvement.  A woman still dies from complications of pregnancy or childbirth every 90 seconds.

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Maternal Health Key To Empowering Women

By Amnesty’s Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

Next week, we’ll be concluding our Mother’s Day blog series by looking at the international dimensions of maternal mortality.  Today we’d like to focus on maternal health as a key to empowering women worldwide.

Globally, motherless children are 10 times more likely to die within two years of their mothers’ death.  A mother’s health and nutrition, what care and assistance she received during her pregnancy and delivery determined whether she and you are alive today, and whether you are battling with developmental problems, birth defects, or illnesses, including perinatal HIV.

Every 90 seconds a woman dies from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications. This is 1,000 women, or more than 2 filled-to-capacity jumbo jets crashing daily.  Amnesty International considers this a human rights scandal, not only because almost all of these deaths are preventable, but because they are the culmination of abuses and discrimination against women, from insufficient access to basic healthcare, lack of comprehensive family planning and reproductive healthcare services, early marriages, gender-based violence, to inadequate redress.

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Tell Congress: Pass Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2011

On Sunday you called your mom. Today, call on your elected officials to protect maternal health.

This Wednesday, May 11, a Mother’s Day briefing on Capitol Hill will shine a light on the maternal health care crisis in the United States. Featured guest Christy Turlington Burns, maternal health advocate and director of No Woman No Cry, will join Amnesty International researcher Nan Strauss and others to advocate for the Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2011.

Drafted to address some of the most pressing recommendations in Amnesty International’s report on maternal mortality in the US, Deadly Delivery, this innovative bipartisan legislation would:

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