Dr. Arzu Rana Deuba – Republica – Monday, 13 May 2013 (originally published 09 May)
Indira Gandhi, when asked to state her greatest moment in life, reportedly said, “When I became a mother.” Indeed, if one of the most powerful women in world history regarded becoming a mother as the greatest moment in her life, for ordinary women like us it is no doubt the best moment and a turning point in life. Birthing a healthy baby and holding the newborn child in her arms gives an indescribable feeling of happiness to a woman. For most, it is also a moment of rebirth. On this Mother’s Day, I would like to congratulate all mothers for the sacrifices they have made and all the love they have given their children.
The importance of a woman as a mother in every family and society is invaluable. I have no doubt in my mind that the human race would have been extinct a long time ago if mothers were not endowed with endless love, patience and wisdom. Today, as you read this, I invite you to celebrate your mother and think about her life from the time you were in her womb. I also request all readers, both women and men, to become advocates for safer and more respectful motherhood in Nepal and around the world.
Nepali women’s rights activists talk about a number of rights we would like ensured in Nepal, but often as activists (from advantaged groups) we forget the most basic and important of all rights—the right to a healthy and dignified motherhood. For most women reading this article, childbirth may have been a good experience, but for many other women in Nepal and around the globe, it unfortunately is not so. Accompanying a niece-in-law to Prasuti Griha for her delivery, I was horrified to see the blood on the beds and the floor of the delivery room, and an almost complete lack of privacy or dignity for the women in the throes of birthing a baby. Fortunately, she was a nurse herself, and took things in her stride with equanimity, almost birthing her own baby! However, I was not surprised that after a few months, they had to close the entire place due to infection in delivery rooms. To tell you the truth, I have seen cleaner cow-sheds! But hospital management cannot alone be blamed for the treatment meted out to women or for the shabby ‘up-keep’ of the place. They are overwhelmed with the number of delivery cases. There is literally no time to even wipe a delivery bed clean due to the heavy flow of patients, forget bedside manners or handholding of the woman in labor . . .