For Christy Turlington Burns, it was hemorrhaging after delivering a child and realizing that without stellar medical care, she would have died. For Heather Armstrong, it was researching natural childbirth as she prepared to deliver her second child, and being horrified at what some elements of Western medicine had done to it. It prompted her to deliver her child naturally with an audience of medical professionals who’d never seen a completely natural birth before. The connection? Disempowerment of mothers, the lack of the right level of care, and not enough awareness. In other words, too few people giving a damn that mothers are still dying in childbirth at ridiculously unacceptable levels from mostly preventable issues.
Yesterday at the Social Good Summit hosted by the UN Foundation, Mashable and the 92 St Y, Christy Turlington and Heather Armstrong and Kathy Calvin, CEO of the United Nations Foundation, had a far-reaching conversation about motherhood, death in childbirth and mom bloggers.
Heather Armstrong spoke about the full frontal assault that is your first visit to a developing country. She asked her colleagues if they ever got tired and overwhelmed. “What am I doing here? Why am I doing this?” And then they went to a village where things had changed. Where there were substantial improvements. And she understood why they give. Why they go.
As Christy so elegantly answered, “We put our feet in the shoes of another person, another soul” and then we listen and we ask ourselves, what can I do?
Not every person can be a first hand witness or have the authentic personal experience of going to Bangladesh, or Kenya, to see, touch and feel and then report back on what they discovered. But Turlington and Armstrong reminded us that good story tellers can be that witness. They can provide that voice for others to connect to.
Armstrong gave a poignant call to action for mothers online. If it can become a safer place to share our thoughts, experiences and feelings, then more and more and more voices will come. And more will share. And more will get done. Less judgement = more action = more villages with maternal health outcomes improving by 40% in ten years (Bangladesh). 40% more mothers surviving childbirth in 2011 than did in 2001.
Turlington painted a clear picture of why every mother counts. Mothers are the binding for every global development issue the world is trying to solve. Vaccinations only happen if mother is strong enough to make the necessary trek and bring her children to receive their vital care. Clean water initiatives? Mother. Clean cookstoves? Mother. Agriculture initiatives? Mother. She is the one who has to be healthy enough to be taught. And if she dies, a family is not only emotionally bereft, but misses every educational opportunity that would bring surviving children out of the cycle.
Meanwhile in our homes, we are the creators of philanthropic awakenings in our children. How you are teaching your children to care? How do we create moments of connection in our families, as we raise the next generation of global problem solvers?