Despite spending almost a decade as a feminist policy analyst, I always felt the urgency of investing in women, specifically in our health and in our rights, was a cause most policymakers in Capitol Hill could not grasp. How can lawmakers understand that legislation they author impact women and girls globally? More importantly, how can the average person comprehend that their advocacy could save mothers around the world?
Every Mother Counts, the organization founded by Christy Turlington Burns, has a new campaign that makes a complex issue not only easy to understand, but also tells people, from policymakers to activists to the average person on the street, exactly how to intervene to save women’s lives now.
“Our Every 2 Minutes (#every2) campaign highlights the reality that every two minutes, a woman dies bringing life into the world,” Christy Turlington Burns tells me. “This is 800 women per day. However, 90 percent of these deaths are preventable. We hope to accomplish two things with this campaign which is to educate people about a global tragedy that we know how to solve, and inspire more people to join in our efforts to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother.”
The #every2 campaign released an excellent video that effectively explains, in under two minutes, why you should care about women’s reproductive health and rights, and the larger implications women dying needlessly in childbirth has for a nation’s overall development on the eve of a holiday that celebrates mothers- Mother’s Day.
“As we celebrate our moms and motherhood on the single day, we also want people to remember that when a child is born, a mother is also born,” Turlington Burns stipulates. “We want MORE people to be mindful that on Mother’s Day, and every other day of the year, 800 women lose their lives bringing new life into the world. That’s one woman every two minutes.”
That statistic is an unacceptable reality we can, and must fight to alter not only because we know how to, but because around the world women’s lives just do not matter as much as their male counterparts, a reality Turlington Burns observed throughout her travels.
“The sad truth is that women’s lives are not seen as having equal value to men’s, despite the fact that they do the lion’s share of the work,” the supermodel turned super-maternal health advocate clearly states. “Insuring that more girls are educated will result in better birth outcomes when they become mothers which translates into better health for their families, too.”
How can you begin to make a difference right now? Turlington Burns and her team make regular field visits from Malawi to Haiti to Bangladesh to Uganda, and one of the clearest obstacles they found that serves as a barrier between women and their health is literally just being able to access it.
“Distance is often the barrier which makes accessing critical maternity care unfathomable for millions of women,” Turlington Burns explains. “In Uganda, we are working with Baylor Uganda through the Saving Mothers, Giving Life partnership to provide transportation vouchers to women living in remote areas which include prenatal, delivery and post delivery care. In many parts of the world, women give birth without a skilled birth attendant so in Haiti, we are helping to support the training of midwives. In many countries doctors, nurses and midwives lack the supplies and electricity to provide life saving care. We are also working with We Care Solar to provide solar power to 44 clinics in Malawi. Our three main focuses are: Transportation, Education, and Supplies.”
As a Bangladeshi woman living in Washington, celebrating Mother’s Day is always one that I observe with mixed emotions. It will never be lost on me that I come from a country that has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, and although Bangladesh has famously slashed its maternal mortality numbers by 40%, too many women are still dying. The majority of births still take place at home, without the presence of a skilled birth attendant. Experts estimate that 215 million women around the world lack access to contraceptives, and millions more are left injured in pregnancy related complications, such as fistula.
It is also important to remember that pregnancy related deaths are not casualties of the “developing world.” It happens in “developed” countries as well. In fact, America has one of the worst maternal mortality rates amongst industrialized nations, ranking behind over 40 other countries when it comes to maternal death rates, with 11 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies. Most people have no idea about these facts. The fact remains that mothers from America to Bangladesh are still dying in childbirth.
This is where the #every2 campaign comes in, and in simple steps tells you what you can do this Mother’s Day to change the numbers. Just take 2 minutes to Take 2 actions that include the following:
· UPLOAD 2 photos of the day you were “born” a mother on our Facebook Contest page through Facebook http:/bit.ly/QMhgIA or #Every2 your pics on Twitter or Instagram.
· RUN 2 miles using the Charity Miles app (http://www.charitymiles.org/)
· SHARE 2 facts about maternal health on 2 of your social media networks using #every2
· DONATE 2 dollars to Every Mother Counts https://secure.donationpay.org/everymothercounts/
· GIVE 2 gifts by making 1 purchase from one of our partners that will generate a donation to EMC http://everymothercounts.org/shop/
· INVITE 2 friends to Take 2 actions of their own
Sunday as you plan to celebrate what your mother means to you with brunch or flowers, take a step further and save the life of a woman you may not know, but who is nonetheless, still someone’s mother. Turlington Burns has made it her mission to save women’s lives. This Mother’s Day, will you join her?
*This post of mine was also published on Forbes Woman.