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ASEAN Women Parliamentarians made a deal on maternal health

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Women Parliamentarians of ASEAN Countries met in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 10-11 March to take stock on the ultimate goal, Millennium Development Goal 5, agreed by the 189 countries at the UN General Assembly in 2000 to cut by three quarters of the maternal death globally by 2015.

More than 350,000 women die annually from complications during pregnancy or childbirth, globally, of which almost 99 per cent - almost of them living in developing countries that left behind more than 1 million children unattended care and despair lives.

In Cambodia alone, there are still 5 women lost lives, everyday, while giving new life. The maternal mortality ratio in 2008 census of the Royal Government of Cambodia stands at 461 per 100,000 live births which is one of the highest in the region.

With less than 5 years left, Cambodia commits to reduce the maternal death to 250 per 100,000 live births. How to make this possible? Well, Cambodia needs to work harder - everyone has role to play ranging from individual, community and competent authority.

How can it be refined by the Women Parliamentarians? 
In overall, Parliamentarians represent the voices of their constituencies, and in particular women parliamentarians could access to women and children more easily if compare to male parliamentarians. They can used their leadership position to break the silence, foster dialogue and mobilize social support to maternal health including gender equality and right to sexual and reproductive health which remain sensitive to many ASEAN cultures. Other key roles played by parliamentarians include holding open hearings with government, civil society, private sector and other actors in order to identify legislative gaps, challenges and solutions and minimizing obstacles that limit women's access to health care services. They also play role in monitoring the implementation of existing laws and policies and ensuring financial resources is allocated to maternal and child health.
UNFPA's work with Parliamentarians:
Recognizing the key advocacy role of parliamentarians, UNFPA has been partnership with legislative body over decades by encouraging parliamentarians to proactively look into the emerging population issues and take action to find flexible solutions for their constituencies' concerns, especially women and young people.

At regional level, UNFPA has supported parliamentarians' consultative meetings, seminars and conferences to share experiences and learn different strategies and network with parliamentarians from different regions and experts. These, could influence them to have concrete strategies at country level.

Similarly, at country level, UNFPA encourages to have open dialogues with government, civil society and community on maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, gender equality and youth issues. Field visits to the constituencies to listen and identify gaps for policy interventions are motivated throughout frequently technical discussions.