It’s a funny thing to be back on the pages of ONE. I spent eight amazing years as ONE’s policy director and was fortunate enough to learn so much about development and what it really takes to make an impact in that time. With ONE, I got to work on the various elements of development that all must work in concert to truly alleviate poverty — whether those be on specific health interventions, improved access to education, basic food and water and of course, those difficult-to-describe but incredibly important investments in improved governance and economic growth.
Lightness and Christy Turlington Burns
Here’s another amazing thing that happened during those eight years I was at ONE: I became a mom. And it’s a funny thing, becoming a mom. You start to look at everything a bit differently. What I started to see is what the experts see and write about, too — that any and all of those development goals have one thing in common: moms are critical to making any of it work.
And that’s what our new campaign — Every Mother Counts (EMC) — has its sights set on. Around the world, 1,000 women still die every day due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth. And what’s more tragic is that 90 percent of them are preventable. We know what needs to be done, and in fact, the numbers HAVE come down in recent years. But 1,000 moms a day is still too many. EMC’s founder, Christy Turlington Burns, and I heard about a UN Foundation poll that said that Americans rated maternal health as the “least important” of the MDGs, which we both had trouble accepting.
The Count Me In! campaign is intended to prove that headline wrong. Our premise is that, if presented in the right way in human terms devoid of jargon, people WILL want to get involved. So, we’re setting out to give people those tools to understand the human face of the tragedy, the simple solutions that exist to address it and avenues to get involved.
Christy created a powerful film entitled “No Woman, No Cry,” which portrays four women at critical junctures in their pregnancies and profiles their experiences in Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala and right here at home in the US. The film will air on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) May 7th at 9:30 pm ET and again on May 8th at 1 pm ET. We’ve also created a compilation music CD with Starbucks and some short video educational tool kits that are on our website.
We have developed opportunities for you to engage using whatever resources you have to bring to the table:
- If you have time to offer, you can think about hosting a watch party for the film or collecting used cell phones that can be turned around to equip health care workers with a cell phone in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- If you have your voice to lend to the call for change, you can share your own story on our virtual wall, or educate your representatives about a piece of legislation that is intended to improve the statistics right here in the US.
- Or, if you have resources you’d like to contribute, we’ve partnered with four groups that are addressing some of the systemic barriers to improved maternal health. With your help, we intend to train 20 midwives in Afghanistan with Save the Children, provide health care workers with transport in western Kenya with Riders for Health, equip a clinic with supplies in Sudan with Doc to Dock and rehabilitate a clinic in the Democratic Republic of Congo with CARE.
The overarching goal is just to do something — whatever seems to best fit you. The more people engage, the more wrong we can make that poll. Maternal health does matter — it matters for moms all over the world and it matters for moms right here at home.