United Arab Emirates: Saving the Children… from position 33?

United Arab Emirates: Saving the Children… from position 33?

Save The Children

Save The Children

There are some causes that are tricky to rally people around: not everyone wants to ban fur coats, for instance; not everyone thinks that restaurants should post calorie counts on their menus. There are other causes, though, that seem pretty much no-brainers: access to clean water, for instance. Is anyone really going to say “yeah, dirty water, I’m a big fan!” Or saving children. Is anyone really going to say (publicly, anyway) that it’s not a good idea to save children?

Even if we all agree that children should be saved, however, we know that all over the world there are children who need saving, in places where governments and infrastructure don’t seem capable of doing what needs to be done. That’s where organizations like Save the Children step in: they help stitch together the services that can help families survive and give governments a much needed hand.

Save the Children came out with its annual “State of the World’s Mothers” list, which uses five metrics to determine where it’s good to be a mother (and a child). The metrics – maternal health, children’s well-being, educational status (of mothers), economic status, and political status— are combined to give an overall score, which determines where a country falls on the list. Of 179 countries, there are the usual suspects at the bottom of the list—countries where war, natural disasters, and poverty combine in a perfect storm of catastrophe: places like Haiti, or Sudan, or Pakistan.

But there are surprises, too, like the fact that the United States doesn’t even crack the top twenty. Nope, the good ol’ US of A pulls in at 33.

Thirty-third in the world, for a country whose overall wealth and education trumps pretty much everywhere else. The US was beaten by, among others, Slovenia, Belarus, Croatia, and the Czech Republic, as well as all those Scandinavian countries that consistently outperform everyone else when it comes to quality of life issues.

You know what most of these places have that the US does not? A significantly higher percentage of women in government. I suppose a statistician would say that fact is not causal but correlative, and I’m sure that some people would insist that just having women in government won’t automatically make things better for women and children (and thus society), but maybe we should try, and then see what happens?

I live at the moment in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, another wealthy country that doesn’t crack the top twenty on this list. I suppose that for many Westerners, it might seem impossible any Middle Eastern country would score well on a list having to do with women’s lives, but the statistics on this list might help defuse those stereotypes. According to this index, 17.5% of seats in UAE government organizations are held by women, compared to 19.5% in the US; in terms of lifetime risk of maternal death, it is better to be a woman in the UAE: 1 in 5800 versus 1 in 1800 in the US. Women in the US average about 16 years of schooling, women in the UAE about 13; and women in the US tend to be wealthier than women in the UAE (53K for the US, 38K for the UAE).

The Save the Children list doesn’t index maternity leave policy, but that offers another interesting point of comparison.

Women in the UAE only receive 45 days of maternity leave, which isn’t enough, obviously, as any woman who has given birth understands. Women in the US get twelve weeks of maternity leave (although I had to call it “disability” leave in order to ensure that I got the requisite number of days). Twelve weeks, that is, of unpaid leave. John Oliver brilliantly skewered this policy on Mother’s Day, pointing out that the United States aligns with Papua, New Guinea, as the only two countries in the world with no paid parental leave policy. In the UAE, if a woman has a medical certificate that attests to her need for more time at home, she can take up to 100 days of additional (unpaid) leave.

Organizations like Save the Children do invaluable, back-breaking work among desperate populations, but their work raises a question that those of us who live with more privilege should be asking–loudly–of ourselves and our communities: why aren’t we all tied for first place? What has to happen to force “resource-rich” countries take care of its most vulnerable citizens? Why aren’t we doing better?

Where does your country rank in this list? And how do you think your country can do better? Any thoughts?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Deborah Quinn in the United Arab Emirates of “Mannahattamamma.”

Photo credit to ‘Save The Children’.

Mannahattamamma (UAE)

After twenty-plus years in Manhattan, Deborah Quinn and her family moved to Abu Dhabi (in the United Arab Emirates), where she spends a great deal of time driving her sons back and forth to soccer practice. She writes about travel, politics, feminism, education, and the absurdities of living in a place where temperatures regularly go above 110F.
Deborah can also be found on her blog, Mannahattamamma.

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World Voice: An Interview on Heartfulness Meditation – #IDayofYoga #InternationalYogaDay #InternationalDayofYoga

World Voice: An Interview on Heartfulness Meditation – #IDayofYoga #InternationalYogaDay #InternationalDayofYoga

International Day of Yoga is June 21st

This week our Senior Editor of World Voice Column, Elizabeth Atalay, interviewed our Senior Editor of Africa and Middle East Region, Purnima Ramakrishnan, about Heartfulness Meditation in relation to the International Day of Yoga.

Elizabeth Atalay: What is Heartfulness Meditation?

Purnima Ramakrishnan: Heartfulness is to feel the already existing deep inner connection of the human being with the heart. It means to experience every single aspect of life in a natural way of the heart. It means to live life in the best way possible.

EA: Why Heartfulness?

PR: We are all connected with each other only though our hearts. In any relationship, personal or professional, in any decision making process, in any life altering situations, in any thing which ever matters or commences or ceases, it is the heart which matters. We feel in our hearts to do or to be or to exist.

We always listen to our hearts. We need this deep connection with our hearts. That is the core of our existence. That is what matters for us, as human beings, in our lives, to be happy and joyful and to be able to follow our hearts. So Heartfulness is a way to do this with a deeper and more connective consciousness with the heart.

EA: Is Heartfulness a type of meditation?

PR: I personally feel “meditation” is a very over-rated word in today’s world. When you close your eyes and think for some time to make a decision, are you contemplating, are you meditating on that aspect? When you sit down silently, by the mountains and close your eyes and feel the peace all around you, do you call it meditation?

When you hug your baby and feel that beautiful joy of a hug, which you would continue to prolong for as long as your baby lies still, is it meditation or is it just an experiencing of joy/love? That is Heartfulness indeed. That is meditation too, if you call it that way. We are meditating every single day, every minute on something or the other. Our hearts are always “working” on something, at times even on stillness.



EA: So do you practice this Heartfulness meditation? If yes, how?

PR: I sit down, close my eyes, and suggest connecting to my heart. I am aware of my heart. Sometimes a few mundane thoughts come along the way – everyday thoughts about everyday life situations. But I still continue with my connection, I continue to feel the brightness in my heart, the stillness in my heart. I feel the joy and peace there, I try to tap into it. And it feels good.

EA: As a #WorldMom of World Moms Blog, how do you think this is useful for mothers?

PR: As a #WorldMom, I say, we mothers are the care-takers of this world, care takers of our babies, children and of our families, which make the structure of the society. It helps mothers stay balanced, stay happy, spread the joy in the family. Personally, it helps me be more connected and intuitive to my child’s needs and well-balanced in my mind for my own personal happiness and development.

EA: Is this something which everyone can participate irrespective of their religious and social/national constructs?

PR: Can everyone (irrespective of their beliefs) go to the doctor when they are unwell? Of course! Taking care of one’s body is a primary duty.

But very often we ignore the cry of help from our own hearts and minds. And to meditate everyday, to feed the soul, to take care of the soul, to enrich the heart, is a duty.

Once I started doing it, I felt it gave me a lot of strength, joy and well-balanced, holistic, emotional and mental life.

EA: Would you be able to help the World Moms with an experience of this?

PR: Yes, definitely. We could have it over skype if our contributors and readers would like to join or I could also suggest local centers where they can go and experience it.

EA: Lastly, how is this Heartfulness Meditation related to the Intenational Day of Yoga?

PR: Ah! Here comes that aspect, where all this discussion started!

India has always been a hot destination for spiritual seekers. From the time of Paul Brunton, India has always been a mystic place with seekers coming here for spirituality. And recently too, the Prime Minister of India, Honorable Mr. Narendra Modi has been instrumental, in the UN’s declaration of 21st June as the International Day of Yoga. Indians have been yogis always, India has been the house of meditation.

All the yogic postures and breathing exercises are fundamental to train the body to be able to sit in meditation for hours together.

The yogis meditated for centuries together, in the jungles and in Himalayas.

Everything they did is for this final act of being able to meditate effectively. However today, we are easily offered this way of the heart, to be able to meditate effectively, to connect with our hearts, for short moments during the day whenever we feel a need, whenever we feel the want, and to experience the joy. So, yes, yoga evolves into meditation, eventually in an aspirant’s journey.

Everywhere in India on June 21st, (including Rajpath where the Presidential Residence is present) and all across the world, different schools of Yoga and meditation are organizing Yoga demonstrations and meditation sessions.

Here at World Moms Blog, we would like to invite the contributors, readers and fans of World Moms Blog for a meditation session on Heartfulness.

Venue: Here on World Moms Blog

Time: Check in any time on June 21st for a video here on World Moms Blog to guide you through heartfulness meditation with Purnima.


Edited on 21 June, 2015, International Day of Yoga:

There is a video below about Heartfulness Meditation. If you are interested, please try to do this in the following way.

1. Gently close your eyes. Relax your body. Empty your mind.

2. Suppose that the Source of Light in your heart is attracting you from within your heart.

3. Rather than trying to visualize it, simply tune in to your heart and be open to any experience that you may have.

4. Do this for as long as you can. It could be 30 minutes. It could be longer or shorter than that too.

5. If your mind wanders and ‘thinks’, gently bring your attention back to your heart.

If you like to do this often, then please do it everyday. It rejuvenates your heart and mind and you feel so ready to take on the world. Please leave your comments in this page and/or contact me through this page – here.

Would you like to try on the next advanced stage after a few days? Let me know and I shall help you with a few more resources and contacts. Or you can do it through this page here too.

Above Video and photo credit to www.Heartfulness.org

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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UK: Helping Our Children Engage With The Fight For A Fairer World

UK: Helping Our Children Engage With The Fight For A Fairer World

Children helping the world

Miss M’s #Strengthie pose supporting the Poverty is Sexist campaign for ONE

I grew up living a pretty selfish life, if I’m honest. We weren’t a terrible family – we would help those we knew if they needed help, and I recall collecting my spare change for charity boxes and joining in with sponsored events, but that was about the sum of my giving to others. I’m pretty sure this is because my parents both grew up in poverty. They understood what it meant to have an empty tummy and to wear clothes that had been mended so many times they were falling off. So we focused on our tight family unit of four and my parents worked like Trojans, across four jobs, to ensure that they could pay the mortgage and offer my brother and I some of the little luxuries they had never had as children.

In my adult life, through becoming a Christian and learning more about the world around me, I developed a strong sense of compassion and a desire to help those who were not living the kind of life I feel we all deserve. As I’ve grown older (and perhaps wiser, some might say) I’ve wanted my children to understand and to ensure that they are engaging with the fight to help our world become a fairer place. I figure if they learn this as a child, they will get involved and start to help at a younger age, and not wait until they are in their thirties like I was.

Of course, as a parent it is my job to help them and to expose them to age-appropriate content and subjects. My twin girls are nearly eight which means we can discuss sensitive issues, but I’m still refraining from talking about sexual matters as I don’t need to smash their innocence at this age. My son is nearly twelve, and we can talk about almost all topics as he has more of an understanding of how the world works.

I’d really love to hear how other parents are educating and engaging their children within this area, and of course that is one of the reasons Jen set up World Moms Blog: to find out how Moms (Mums/Mams) the world over were tackling the same issues but in different culturally appropriate ways.

I thought it might be useful to share the approaches I have been taking so we can all learn from each other –

Child Sponsorship – In 2004 we started to sponsor our first child through Compassion. He was five at the time and over the last eleven years we have watched Carl-Henri grow into a caring young man. It has been a real privilege to pray for him, encourage the children to write to or draw pictures for him and to be able to financially support his place within a Christian project in Haiti. When the earthquake struck Haiti in 2010 we held our breath and prayed for all the people of the nation but of course our soft-spot was for Carl Henri and his family. Thankfully they were all physically well, but they were thrown into the situation of rebuilding their home and lives, which our supported project was able to help with.

Pray with them – I love to pray with my children. There is nothing more beautiful than hearing them expressing the desires of their hearts and offloading the small worries they carry. We have a daily devotional that sits on our dining table and on the nights when we are all together and have some time we read a verse and explore what it means for us and others.

Watch the news together and have open discussions – I probably don’t do this as often as I should but there is so much going on in the world and only so much that a young child can take in. There are some great TV programs nowadays that show the children what it is like for children living elsewhere. In the UK Blue Peter is very good, as is Extreme School and My Life.

Encourage them to raise money for charity – The children have mostly been involved in fundraising for overseas projects through their church groups, and Miss M particularly is keen to make sure she takes some of her pocket-money each week to put in the kids collection. We are signed up to run in the Race for Life soon, which raises money for Cancer Research UK and the girls alone have rustled up £65 in sponsorship. This has certainly made me aware that I need to get them fundraising with me more often.

Involve them in my blog and my plight to fight for a better world – I have been so privileged to travel with ONE and Samaritans Purse to see how donations from the UK and USA are being used in developing countries, and it has been an absolute pleasure to share this with all my children. They have all been very interested and proud as I have shared in Church, schools and within local groups. I also try to involve them in my blogging work and when I am working on a big advocacy campaign they are right there with me sharing the information and championing the cause.

Send them off to offer practical help – Whether in my home country or abroad, I am passionate that young adults should offer practical help to projects that are in need. It might be building skills, playing with children, reading to someone, clearing rubbish, cleaning dishes or something else entirely but so much is learnt when we stretch ourselves and move out of our comfort zone and do something for which we have nothing to gain. My children are all still a little young to have been involved in any kind of mission work as yet but it won’t be long before JJ is old enough and he is already volunteering within our own community.

So that is where our family is at the moment and I really would love to hear from you: what else can we do? What has worked for your family? What do we need to steer clear of?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Michelle Pannell of the United Kingdom. Photo credit to the author.

Michelle Pannell

Michelle’s tales of everyday life and imperfect parenting of a 13-year-old boy and 9-year-old twin girls and her positive Christian outlook on life have made her name known in the UK parenting blogosphere. Her blog, Mummy from the Heart, has struck a chord with and is read by thousands of women across the world. Michelle loves life and enjoys keeping it simple. Time with her family, friends and God are what make her happiest, along with a spot of blogging and tweeting, too! Michelle readily left behind the corporate arena but draws on her 25 years of career experience from the fields of hotel, recruitment and HR management in her current voluntary roles at a school, Christian conference centre, night shelter and food bank. As a ONE ambassador, in 2012 Michelle was selected to travel on a delegation to Ethiopia with the organisation to report on global poverty and health. Then in 2014 she was invited to Washington, DC, where she attended the AYA Summit for girls and women worldwide. When asked about her ambassadorship with the ONE Campaign, she stated, "I feel humbled to be able to act as an advocate and campaigner for those living in poverty."

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#SolarSisterSummit: Climbing Kilimanjaro for a Cause

#SolarSisterSummit: Climbing Kilimanjaro for a Cause

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 10.33.05 PMHave you ever had a dream for so long that it never stopped bugging you until you decided to just do it? For me, it has always been Kilimanjaro. I have wanted to climb this epic mountain for over 15 years since my father did it in October 1999 before my wedding. There really has not been any other dream or travel goal that I have had for that long.

Like most dreams, there have been many obstacles and road blocks along the way. The first big one was timing. There was no way I could go climb Kilimanjaro when I was in the midst of wedding planning, and honestly at that time I had never ever even considered climbing a mountain before. I had hiked all my life but had never climbed a mountain. My dad was always the mountain climber in the family, the one who took these amazing trips and challenged himself to new heights. Not me. Yet still his 1999 trip started a fire inside my wanderlust soul.

It wasn’t until 2001 a few months after September 11 that I did my first real, big, out-of-country hike. My dad and I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. I had never been on a multi-day hike before nor had I been above 12,000 feet. But this magical trip would be a turning point in my life. It would be the first of many hiking trips with my dad to off-the-beaten path places. It would open my eyes to the world outside of Europe, which had always been my safety net in traveling. It would instill a passion and desire to explore. A wanderlust that would never cease, not after getting married, having children, becoming a stay-at-home mom and turning 40.

P1060808-1Instead of satiating, my travel bug grew and grew, and grew. Fortunately, instead of having all my travel end once I had children it actually blossomed. My dad and I continued to take yearly trips to Argentina, Iceland, France, China, India, Nepal and most recently Bolivia.  My husband pushed me to follow my dreams and supported my decisions to volunteer abroad in Morocco, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica. I began my blog and the travel door continued to open as I visited India, Ethiopia and Haiti.

I often get those questions or remarks such as “How do you do it?” or “You are so lucky, my husband would never let me go“.  That feeling of guilt about why should I be able to do this when others can’t even feed their family. Yet I have pushed it aside and realized that I have an incredible opportunity to use the good fortune of traveling to give back. To make a difference. To dedicate my life to helping people who don’t have these luxuries. So that is why I do what I do and am who I am.

As with my dream of climbing Kilimanjaro, I could easily have just signed up to climb it and gone by myself. I had thought about doing it many times. I even was going to do it with my husband years ago but we decided on Chile instead. Then came the kids and we never wanted to leave them without at least one parent home (hence why my husband does not travel with me).

I wanted this climb to be special. I wanted it to mean something similar to my life-changing trip to Nepal.

Like an act of fate, I got the call a few months ago from my dear friend, and fellow World Moms Blog Editor Elizabeth Atalay of Documama. Elizabeth and I met at a blogging conference a few years ago and since then we have worked together as writers at World Moms BlogONE.org, and Mom Bloggers for Social Good. One of our projects with Mom Bloggers for Social Good was to review an advanced copy of Betsy Teutsch’s new book called “100 Under $100: One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women”.  One of the non-profits inside of that book was Solar Sister. Solar Sister is based in Rhode Island where my friend Elizabeth lives, and Rhode Island is a small state.

Elizabeth was familiar with Solar Sister and over a lunch with a friend of hers who works there, she learned about their #SolarSisterSummit climb this July. Knowing this was a dream of mine, she phoned me right away to tell me about it.  It was fate.  I did a Skype call with the team a few days later and signed up instantly and haven’t looked back. Climbing Kilimanjaro while knowing I am doing it not only for myself, but to help others is amazing.


Over the next month and a half I will be actively fundraising with a goal of reaching $4,000 that will cover the training for 8 new Solar Sister Entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa. To date, I have almost raised $2,000! These women will have a new opportunity. It is a thrilling feeling knowing what an impact I will make.

The road ahead will be exhilarating. I have a lot of training to do, and more fundraising. But I know I can do it. My mom and dad always taught me to chase my dreams and never give up. I don’t think there is any better lesson I could have ever learned from them that is more valuable except of course to love, to be compassionate, and to be grateful.

Have you ever had a long-term dream or goal that you finally were able to fulfill?

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Nicole Melancon of Third Eye Mom.

Kilimanjaro Photo credit Wikimedia

Nicole Melancon (USA)

Third Eye Mom is a stay-at-home mom living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her two children Max (6) and Sophia (4). Her children keep her continually busy and she is constantly amazed by the imagination, energy and joy of life that they possess! A world wanderer at heart, she has also been fortunate to have visited over 30 countries by either traveling, working, studying or volunteering and she continues to keep on the traveling path. A graduate of French and International Relations from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she met her husband Paul, she has always been a Midwest gal living in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Chicago. This adventurous mom loves to be outside doing anything athletic (hiking, running, biking, skiing, snowshoeing or simply enjoying nature), to travel and volunteer abroad, to write, and to spend time with her beloved family and friends. Her latest venture involves her dream to raise enough money on her own to build and open a brand-new school in rural Nepal, and to teach her children to live compassionately, open-minded lives that understand different cultures and the importance of giving back to those in need. Third Eye Mom believes strongly in the value of making a difference in the world, no matter how small it may be. If there is a will, there is a way, and that anything is possible (as long as you set your heart and mind to it!). Visit her on her blog, Thirdeyemom, where she writes about her travels and experiences in other lands!

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GUEST POST: SINGAPORE–Our Little Island Charm

GUEST POST: SINGAPORE–Our Little Island Charm

SingaporeCity_jdoquinnTwo months ago, we had our first experience going to a medical clinic in a foreign country.

Come to think of it, we managed nearly four years in Paris without needing to do so. It helped that we lived across the street from a pharmacy (a distinct Parisian ‘landmark’). Those days, we relied heavily on self-medication and the advice of our friendly pharmacist.

This time around, these options couldn’t cut it. Our 22 month-old daughter had already been ill for a week and wasn’t getting any better.

Having only recently arrived in Abu Dhabi, we had no idea about which pediatrician to consult. Armed with a recommendation from a mum’s group, I called up only to find out with some panic that the earliest appointment was in four days’ time. After some frantic telephone conversations with my husband, we made a dash for a walk-in clinic which closed its doors at 1pm.

While this may be common in many countries, it is not something that we would have encountered back home. In Singapore, we could always see our pediatrician at short notice after a quick phone call. This was always reassuring, especially for first-time parents who made a big deal out of every rise in temperature or unusual cough.

Our experience at the clinic made me a little homesick and left me wishing for many things, big and small, that we often take for granted back in Singapore.

This feeling was further intensified a few days later, when news broke that Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, had passed away.

Amid the numerous news reports and posts on social media from friends and folks back home, I felt a keen sadness for the nation’s loss of the man who made Singapore what she is today.

Countless politicians, heads of state, journalists and media outlets inundated us with statements, commentaries and judgements on the life and impact of our “giant of history”. I leave this to them.

What I’ve been mulling over, what preoccupies me as a parent, is what Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy entails; it’s what he has left Singaporeans, our future generations and my daughter.

Every opportunity is available to my daughter:

  • She has access to education from an early age and will never have to struggle for the right to go to school.
  • She can run around freely in our neighbourhood and enjoy her childhood innocence in playgrounds.
  • She can go out with her mother now, or alone in the future, without restriction or the necessity of being accompanied by a male presence.
  • She can travel around our little island on public transport, and see marvellous skyscrapers and iconic buildings, all set amidst verdant flora.
  • Her safety outside our home is not an issue that her father or I have to worry our heads about, neither does she need to be anxious over whether her parents will get home safely at the end of the day.
  • She will have friends from so many different cultures and nationalities, and she can be proud of being able to claim heritage from multiple cultures.

Every opportunity awaits my daughter, for her to make something out of it.

For these and many other reasons, my heart hangs heavy and yet swells with pride for our tiny island and I long for the next time we arrive again at Changi Airport, to see the sign “Welcome Home”. It is a home and country that a visionary built. It may not be a perfect place but my daughter has so many things to be thankful for.

This is an original, first post to World Moms Blog from KC, who is currently stationed with her family in Abu Dhabi but born and bred in Singapore. This is their first international job posting with their daughter, TT, who is now 22 months old. You can read more about Singaporean-expat life through KC’s eyes on her blog, Mummy In Transit, or through her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mummyintransit .

The image used in this post is credited to the author’s friend, Jacob O’Quinn, and is used here with permission.

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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WORLD INTERVIEW: Erin Thornton, Executive Director of Every Mother Counts

WORLD INTERVIEW: Erin Thornton, Executive Director of Every Mother Counts

erin-thornton_executive-directorEvery mother has the right to access the care they need during pregnancy and childbirth – care that can identify, prevent, and manage complications should they arise. But failure to meet these needs results in the loss of 800 mothers every day, even though up to 98% of these deaths are preventable. 

 Every Mother Counts is working to provide solutions that can make pregnancy and childbirth safer. We know that with the right care at the right time, it IS possible that every mother could have the chance to survive and thrive.

Recently, World Moms Blog sat down with Executive Director of Every Mother Counts, Erin Thornton, to talk about how she got involved with the organization and what drives her to work so hard for maternal health.

World Moms Blog: Erin, you’re the mother of three young girls and you live in the metro-Boston area yet you are the executive director of Every Mother Counts, a New York-based non-profit working in five locations around the world. How did you get involved?

Erin Thornton: My involvement with Every Mother Counts grew out of a 10-day trip to Africa with my former organization, ONE. We had invited  Christy Turlington Burns along and she and I got chatting about maternal health. Maternal health was not an issue ONE focused on and I was really drawn to what Christy was telling me about.

WMB: What about maternal health drew you in?

ET: Well, Christy had just completed the film, “No Woman, No Cry” a documentary about maternal health challenges that impact the lives of millions of girls and women around the world. During our  trip through five African countries, Christy and I spent a lot of time comparing notes on what was needed to move the maternal health agenda forward. Through all my time at ONE, I realized how interlinked so many poverty challenges are to maternal health—that if moms are kept alive, we can better keep kids alive, better give them an education and clean water, etc. Yet still no one was really talking about it.

WMB: What prompted you to leave behind a long career with ONE and join Christy in her pursuit of spreading maternal health awareness as she built this new non-profit?

ET: I had been with ONE since 2002, when I became the first hire in the US for ONE’s predecessor organization, DATA. By 2010, ONE had grown to 120 people in four different global offices. I had two young girls and I was starting to think about making a change. The more Christy and I talked about the need for an “awareness campaign” for maternal health, the more I realized I wanted to be a part of it too, so six-months later, I formally signed on to help her build the organization.

WMB:  In just a few days (May 10), we celebrate Mother’s Day here in the US, can you share with World Moms something about what makes you a passionate believer in Every Mother Counts?

ET: Physiologically, every woman goes through pregnancy the same way and faces the same chances of developing a complication. The difference in how they fare mainly comes down to whether they have access to good health care- or not. Helping more moms enjoy a safe pregnancy and delivery may sound like an overwhelming challenge but we really CAN make a difference. EMC has identified three target areas to focus our support on: 1. transport, 2. education and training for healthcare providers, and 3. supplies for clinics–including birth kits, solar suitcases and lighting. And we’re seeing that these seemingly simple things are making a big difference.

This Mother’s Day, Every Mother Counts is celebrating #WhatIsPossible for every mother.

Every mother has the right to access the care they need during pregnancy and childbirth – care that can identify, prevent, and manage complications should they arise. But failure to meet these needs results in the loss of 800 mothers every day, even though up to 98% of these deaths are preventable.

Every Mother Counts is working to provide solutions that can make pregnancy and childbirth safer. We know that with the right care at the right time, it IS possible that every mother could have the chance to survive and thrive.

So this Mother’s Day, as we look at the future of maternal health, we ask ourselves #WhatIsPossible? And the answer is, a lot.

With your help, Every Mother Counts has already impacted thousands of lives by improving access to critical maternal health care for vulnerable mothers.

During the month of May, we invite you to spread the good news about #WhatIsPossible by sharing this film.

This is an original interview with Erin Thornton posted by World Moms Blog Managing Editor, Kyla P’an.

The image used in this post is from the Every Mother Counts website and is used here with permission.

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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