Opening speech at the exhibition “Lives in Reconstruction” Beira, Mozambique - November 12, 2012
Governor, Minister, Ambassador, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to be here this afternoon for the opening of the photo exhibition “Lives in Reconstruction” with testimonies from 16 fistula survivors from Mossurize in Manica Province.
For me, this exhibition is about hope.
Hope for each single woman who endures the devastating consequences of fistula.
Hope that another future is in fact possible.
Hope that the stories of the fistula survivors will help to inform and create greater understanding, in Mozambique, of what fistula is.
Hope that husbands, mothers, fathers, peers, religious and local leaders, journalists, NGOs, ministries and politicians in Mozambique will do their part to prevent new cases of fistula and ensure access to information and treatment for Mozambican women living with fistula. Importantly, there must be support for these women to help them regain their rightful place in their communities.
Shortly, you will have the opportunity to walk around the exhibition and I encourage you to think of these many layers of hope as you meet the 16 survivors and learn of their testimonies.
I have hope that the testimonies of the 16 women in this exhibition will help inspire other young women.
I have four children myself and I am very aware of how privileged I am to have given birth to my children in a country where we have access to good maternal health care and safe delivery.
It has been extremely encouraging for me, during my visit to Mozambique, to see how the Ministry of Health together with UNFPA Mozambique and other partners have put fistula and maternal health high on the political agenda.
Training doctors at the Beira hospital through cooperation with Ethiopian experts training Mozambican health personnel are some of the efforts that are taking place – all important stepping-stones to eliminate fistula long-term.
Finally, this exhibition feeds in to several efforts and initiatives under the global “End Fistula Campaign” coordinated by UNFPA.
It is my hope that if we scale up promising activities as those which I have seen here in Beira, and the enormous work and commitment exhibited by Ministry of Health and partners in Mozambique, then we can together come close to putting an end to fistula.
As patron of UNFPA, I’m committed to generating greater awareness to the importance of fistula prevention, treatment and reintegration. And fistula prevention is an important part of the broader work I do for global reproductive health and rights.
Taking part in this opening today and having met with the fistula patients yesterday, gives me a tremendous personal motivation to carry their hope of a brighter future with me in my work as a global advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights.
I would like to invite you all to embrace the hopes of the 16 fistula survivors, and encourage you to take part in ensuring that more women living with fistula in Mozambique can and will walk in their footsteps.
With these words, I now declare open the exhibition ‘Lives for Reconstruction’.