March 8 – International Women’s Day

Published on : 8 March 2021

Today, we celebrate women, especially women’s rights. At Mercy Ships, we consider one of them essential. It is the right to dignity.

According to the WHO, between 3 and 4 million women in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are currently living with obstetric fistula, a devastating disability related to complicated childbirth. It often leads to permanent incontinence and, in the worst cases, even fecal incontinence. Perpetually wet and dirty, these women are often rejected by their husbands and ostracized by their families and communities. They live in isolation and shame.

91% of vaginal fistulas can be treated with surgery. On board its hospital ships, Mercy Ships provides reconstructive surgery for women with fistula.

After surgery, these women are the focus of a “dress ceremony” organized by Mercy Ships. They receive a new dress and gifts as a symbol of their newfound dignity and better prospects for the future. For them, it is their honor and dignity that are restored.

Mercy Ships’ motto – Restoring health and dignity – finds its full meaning here with this program dedicated to women.

Learn more about our gynecological surgery program on this page.