India's "rapid" economic growth, higher infant and maternal mortality rates (MMR) are "robbing" Indian women and girls of their chances to make a contribution, NCW chief Mamata Sharma today said.
Launching a new initiative MSD for mothers to reduce the number of women dying during pregnancy and childbirth, she said India has been faring very poorly in maternal care though efforts are being made to address the issue.
The MSD for Mothers is a 10-year, USD 500 million global commitment to improve access to maternal health services in areas with high mortality rate.
"India is making rapid advances towards economic development while infant and maternal mortality rate are robbing Indian women and girls of their chances to make a contribution," she said.
She said that the maternal mortality rate has been significantly high in India as compared to other developed and developing countries in the world.
"As per reports available, India has been faring very poorly in maternal health with 56,000 maternal deaths per year. Pakistan has 12,000 maternal deaths per year," she said.
"India ranked 142 among 176 countries where the first rank goes to Finland and the last rank goes to Democratic Republic of Congo for maternal health and well being. India's commitment to maternal health and programmes like the National Rural Health Mission and Jan Suraksha Yojana has also contributed in reducing MMR", she said.
She said India has made great strides towards Millennium Development Goal 5 but we know there is more work to do to reach that target.
"It has been the constant endeavour of the National Commission for Women to address the needs of women in the country. One of the issues plaguing India is persistently high maternal mortality rate," she said.
In India, there are 14 lakh anganwadis and two women work in each anganwadi.
Fifty children are associated with each anganwadi.
"This is a huge programme ... there is employment along with empowerment. I think if we start with rural areas, then we will be successful. If we go to grassrooots, block level, Panchayat level ... it will be our biggest achievement", she said.
"If children are married, we can imagine about their health, if you get married before a certain age, either the woman dies or the child dies," she noted.