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Fact sheet on the Maternal Health of Women and Girls of African Descent in the Americas

The UNFPA, UNICEF, UN-Women, and WHO Fact Sheet on the Maternal Health of Women and Girls of African Descent in the Americas

Afrodescendant women and girls in the Americas face significant challenges before, during, and after pregnancy, and maternal mortality rates are alarmingly high. This is the key finding of new research on the maternal health of women and girls of African descent in the region. The fact sheet was developed by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with the support of a hera team that included Adria Armbrister, Marianne Eelens, and Alejandra Martinez. Our team of experts collaborated with UNFPA staff to synthesize the available data and evidence, analyze and interpret the findings, and develop recommendations based on human rights principles and standards.

For the first time, the fact sheet brings together comparative data on the situation of Afrodescendant women's maternal health in nine countries across the Americas for which comparable data was available. The team examined whether and how gendered racism, which is the intersection of racism and sexism, affects maternal and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) outcomes for Afrodescendant women and girls. The researchers found that Afrodescendant women and girls experience significant disparities in maternal and SRHR outcomes compared to non-Afrodescendant women and girls (excluding Indigenous women and girls) in almost all of the countries studied. This suggests that systemic racism and gender discrimination are fundamental barriers to achieving the highest attainable standard of maternal and SRHR care.

To address these disparities, the researchers recommend increasing and improving data disaggregation and analysis, adopting equity- and people-centered primary health care policies, plans, and programs in collaboration with civil society and Black women community leaders, adopting an intersectional approach to maternal health that addresses racism and sexism, eliminating racist assumptions in medical education curricula, and increasing the presence of medical personnel of African descent to tackle structural racism and discrimination in maternal and SRHR care for Afrodescendant women and girls.

At hera, we are proud to have contributed to this fact sheet under the leadership of UNFPA. This work reflects our commitment to promoting gender equality, social justice, and improving health outcomes for marginalized and excluded communities. We hope that this fact sheet serves as a catalyst for action and advocacy to ensure that everyone, especially those who are marginalized and excluded, can fully enjoy their maternal and SRHR rights and well-being.

Download the factsheet from the UNFPA website>