Cover Image
close this bookPlan of Action for the Survival, Protection and Development of Children (United Nations)
close this folderII. Specific actions for child survival, protection and development
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe Convention on the Rights of the Child
View the documentChild health
View the documentFood and nutrition
View the documentRole of women, maternal health and family planning
View the documentRole of the family
View the documentBasic education and literacy
View the documentChildren in especially difficult circumstances
View the documentProtection of children during armed conflicts
View the documentChildren and the environment
View the documentAlleviation of poverty and revitalization of economic growth

Role of women, maternal health and family planning

15. Women in their various roles play a critical part in the well-being of children. The enhancement of the status of women and their equal access to education, training, credit and other extension services constitute a valuable contribution to a nation's social and economic development. Efforts for the enhancement of women's status and their role in development must begin with the girl child. Equal opportunity should be provided for the girl child to benefit from the health, nutrition, education and other basic services to enable her to grow to her full potential.

16. Maternal health, nutrition and education are important for the survival and well-being of women in their own right and are key determinants of the health and well-being of the child in early infancy. The causes of the high rates of infant mortality, especially neonatal mortality, are linked to untimely pregnancies, low birth weight and pre-term births, unsafe delivery, neonatal tetanus, high fertility rates, etc. These are also major risk factors for maternal mortality claiming the lives of 500,000 young women each year and resulting in ill-health and suffering for many millions more. To redress this tragedy, special attention should be given to health, nutrition and education of women.

17. All couples should have access to information on the importance of responsible planning of family size and the many advantages of child spacing to avoid pregnancies that are too early, too late, too many or too frequent. Pre-natal care, clean delivery, access to referral facilities in complicated cases, tetanus toxoid vaccination and prevention of anaemia and other nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy are other important interventions to ensure safe motherhood and a healthy start in life for the newborn. There is an added benefit of promoting maternal and child health programmes and family planning together in that, acting synergistically, these activities help accelerate the reduction of both mortality and fertility rates, and contribute more to lowering rates of population growth than either type of activity alone.