A Cry for Cleanliness: Jacqueline Mwase

As told to Eya Mwenifumbo-Gondwe and Marissa Ware, as part of the Brave Voices, Bold Actions podcast

My name is Jacqueline Mwase and I am 30 years old. I come from Chiudzira, Malawi and I am a member of the Lhomwe tribe.

Earlier this morning, I gave birth to a baby girl I have named as Jacinta. In Lhomwe culture, motherhood is supposed to be a good experience where the mother is well taken care of and has all good facilities. It means the mother will be assisted accordingly and have good health because the mother has resources available to her and at the facility. I was greatly assisted by the nurse midwife on duty and she did a very good job.

After the delivery of the baby, I took a bath in the labor ward where there was a clean bathroom and toilet available. However, when I got to the post-natal ward, I found the toilets in a bad state where they cannot be flushed, and it is not clean there. We are washing hands with the availability of water but there is no hand soap to use. I have not been able to assist myself at the post-natal ward toilets ever since I bathed in the morning after delivery.

A Malawian woman makes her way through a cluttered pathway on her way to a inadequate toilet facility at a health center.
A Malawian woman makes her way through a cluttered pathway on her way to a inadequate toilet facility at a health center.

Because the toilets are blocked, you cannot practice proper hygiene since everything will be floating in the toilets. The toilets have been washed, but because they do not have the necessary detergents and equipment for cleaning up, they look dirty. The bathrooms and toilets are small, so with the frequent traffic you find that the cleanliness is not maintained.

Women need good bathrooms and toilets, with soap to ensure we are killing germs in our hands because a mother is supposed to be clean. The government should ensure good bathrooms and toilets are available for mothers to use.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

Respectful Maternity Care Charter: The Universal Rights of Women and Newborns

Article 10 of the Respectful Maternity Care Charter:

10. Everyone has the right to adequate nutrition and clean water.

No one is allowed to prevent you and your newborn from having adequate nutrition, clean water or a healthy environment. You have the right to information and support on child nutrition and the advantages of breastfeeding.

Legal authority
-
Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 1979, Article 12
- Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 1979, Article 14(2) Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1990, Article 24 (2)©, (2)(e)
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 11(1)
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006 Article 25(1)

Regional legal authority
-
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, 1990, Article 14(2)
- Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, 2005, Article15(a)
- Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1999, Article 12(1)

Learn more about the universal rights of women and newborns at https://www.whiteribbonalliance.org/rmcresources

Inspiring and convening advocates to uphold the right of all women to be safe and healthy before, during and after pregnancy.

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