Every May we set a day aside to celebrate our mothers. Most of us will do something to show them how important our mother is to us, whether it’s sending her flowers, taking her out to brunch, or calling her to say what a difference she’s made in our life. It is the one day a year devoted to taking time out of our lives to thank our mothers for the role they played in nurturing us.
But this Mother’s Day I will not just celebrate my mother, I will stand up for mothers all around the world.
Giving birth and becoming a mother can bring so much joy into a woman’s life, but it also poses risks. How big of a risk depends on where in the world you live. In the United States a complication related to pregnancy can be treated much easier than in Sierra Leone. According to the Population Reference Bureau a woman in the United States has 1 in 4,800 chance of dying in childbirth over the course of her life, whereas a woman in Sierra Leone has a 1 in 8 chance.
Around the world this means that every year more than 350,000 women die from pregnancy related causes. That amounts to one woman dying every 90 seconds from complications related to a pregnancy ,with 99% of the victims dying in the developing world. Most of those women are dying from easily preventable causes. Last year the United Nations Population Fund and the Guttmacher Institute released a report (http://www.unfpa.org/public/additup) that show by investing in family planning and maternal health care 2/3 of those deaths could be prevented.
So this Mother’s Day, you can honor mothers everywhere by doing two important things.
- Watch “No Woman, No Cry” by Christy Turlington Burns airing on OWN this Sunday with your family and friends so that they can learn about maternal health around the world. http://everymothercounts.org/host-watch-party This documentary shares the powerful stories of at-risk pregnant women in four parts of the world, including a remote Maasai tribe in Tanzania, a slum of Bangladesh, a post-abortion care ward in Guatemala, and a prenatal clinic in the United States.
- Sign the “Million for a Billion” petition, which asks Congress to make sure women everywhere have access to family planning by increasing U.S. funding for family planning and reproductive health programs to $1Billion: http://www.millionforabillion.com.
That is why on this Mother’s Day, after I thank my mom for raising me to be the woman I am today, I will remember the women around the world who are no longer around to see this mother’s day. I will remember that we can prevent these deaths, and I will add my voice to those demanding that the U.S. increase its support for family planning and reproductive health services. If we do that, more mothers will be around next Mother’s Day to celebrate with their children.
Posted by Jennie Wetter, Program Manager