Published: 18/02/2009

On 25 February, the Council of Ministers in Burkina Faso authorized the government to ratify the ILO Conventions 183 on Maternity Protection and 184 on Health and Safety in Agriculture.

The five IUF-affiliated unions in Burkina Faso have worked actively to promote the ratification of these conventions in the framework of an IUF/ILO supported health and safety program and the IUF regional Women’s project.

Burkina Faso is the second African country after Mali to ratify Convention 183 on Maternity Protection and the second to ratify Convention 184 on Health and Safety in Agriculture after Sao Tome and Principe.

In a regional women’s workshop held in Bamako, Mali, 9-13 February, participants from 16 African countries expressed their deep satisfaction over Mali’s ratification of C183 in June 2008, and urged Malian President Amadou Toumani Touré to encourage his peers in other African countries to follow the example.

According to the ILO publication “Safe Maternity”, giving birth is one of the biggest health risks for women today, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and in parts of Asia. More than 8 million women suffer every year from serious complications linked to pregnancy and for half a million women they are fatal.

To reach the Millennium Goal concerning women’s health, the maternal mortality rate would have to be reduced by 75% by 2015. Today, this goal is still a long way off – and it will never be reached unless more governments take the same steps as those of Mali and Burkina Faso.

Health and safety in agriculture is a major preoccupation for IUF members and it is hoped that the decision of Burkina Faso to ratify Convention 184 will soon be followed by other countries where agriculture is a priority sector.