News for 21 June 2012 has been taken from Women’s Views on News.
Sixteen writers (eight amateur and eight professional) have been chosen from a longlist of 40 for the Guardian’s International Development Journalist Competition 2012, it was announced this week.
The competition, now in its fifth year, aims to highlight some of the crucial issues facing the developing world, which are often overlooked or under-represented by the media.
Each competitor had to write a 650-1000 word feature on one of the given 16 themes.
All bar two of the finalists are women. Women’s issues are conspicuous in the choice of themes with many focusing on issues related to pregnancy and childbirth.
One article, which highlights unsafe abortion procedures in Pakistan, reports that 890,000 unsafe abortions are carried out each year in Pakistan. As a result, 800 women die and a further 197,000 are hospitalised.
Another entry discusses the anti-abortion stance of Chile and points out that “many women are forced to resort to cheap and unsafe means of abortion such as self-inflicted torture, self-poisoning and inserting sharp objects, like knitting needles, into the vagina”.
Both articles demonstrate the link between restrictive abortion laws – in Pakistan, abortion is only legal to preserve a mother’s health, while in Chile, it is not legal under any circumstances – and incidences of unsafe pregnancy terminations. Both call for changes in the law and the right for women to have safe abortions.
A piece on maternal mortality in Africa reports that “one in 22 women… will die in pregnancy or childbirth”. This, the author explains, is often due to lack of skilled birth attendants and access to emergency obstetric care. Vouchers that can be exchanged for healthcare at accredited private clinics are put forward as one solution.
Maternal mortality is also high in Yemen. Titled ‘Child brides in Yemen: the fight for the right to say no’, this article makes the link between teenage pregnancy and the risk of life-threatening obstructed labour due to undeveloped narrow hips.
Although the minimum age for marriage was scrapped in Yemen in 1999, just over half of girls are married before their 18th birthday, according to a 2008 study. Rather than argue for legislation, the author says education is the way to improve the rights of girls.
Another problem surrounding pregnancy in developing countries – fistulas – is the subject of another article.
According to the World Health Organisation two million women worldwide live with the devastating reality of a fistula as a result of childbirth, 99% of which occur in developing countries. A mixture of education and better treatment is seen as the route to addressing this problem.
The 16 finalists will now be flown to a developing country to research a new assignment.
The two winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on 22 November 2012.