As part of her commitment to raising awareness on maternal health issues, the UNFPA Regional Ambassador for West and Central Africa Stephanie Linus visited the Democratic Republic of Congo in commemoration of the International Day to End Obstetrical Fistula.
The theme of this year’s commemoration was tagged “hope, healing and dignity for all”, and it featured several activities aimed at giving hope to girls and women around Africa. From 23rd to 25th May, Mrs. Linus participated in a span of activities which included the screening of her award winning movie ‘DRY’, a private luncheon with African Ambassadors in the DRC and a visit to women repaired of fistula at the Biamba Marie Motombo Hospital in Kinshasa.
While speaking to the Ambassadors, Mrs. Linus requested them to work through their governments to do more for the girl child with emphasis on education, ending child marriage, ending obstetric fistula, improving access to health care.
The over 300-persons audience at the private viewing of DRY consisted of African Ambassadors in the DRC, Donors, Regional Director of UNFPA for the East and Southern Africa Region, UN heads of Agencies and Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Ministers and High Ranking Government Officials, Young parliamentarians of DRC, Representatives of International and National NGOs, Members of the Civil Society and various media representatives. During her address, Mrs Linus declared that the theme of the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula “hope, healing and dignity for all” is food for thought and that it is time to act and actively seek ways to do more to change unhealthy behaviors, to improve health systems, and improve human rights for all. “Women should not die while giving life. Girls have rights that need to be respected-education, decent jobs, chose who to marry and when to have children and how many of them. Every woman and girl has a right to be treated with respect and dignity”, she stated.
She challenged the audience to constantly ask themselves the question – What is it that I can do more and do better?
Mrs. Linus also met young artists in the National Institute of Arts in Kinshasa whom she encouraged to look around, pick up the issues that are affecting the society and pass messages to end those ills through arts, music, movie and drama.
Stephanie Linus was named the UNFPA Regional Ambassador in March 2017 in recognition of her far reaching advocacy for the rights of girls and women. As Regional Ambassador, Mrs. Linus will help advocate and raise awareness on maternal health issues across Africa, whilst encouraging policies and laws that protect the rights and dignity of the girl child.