Fighting for universal maternal health

Fighting for universal maternal health

Dr Adrian Brown is the Chair and Co-Founder of Maternity Worldwide, a charity bringing high quality maternal healthcare to women and girls in the developing world. All proceeds of Mindr's upcoming advocacy workshop on International Women's Day will support Maternity Worldwide's important work in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Did you know that every year, around 287,000 women die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth? Or that for every woman who dies in childbirth, there are 20 more who suffer from injury, infection and/or disease during childbirth, equating to an additional 7 million women every year? Ninety-nine percent of these women live in developing countries. Every year, one million children die as a result of the death of their mothers.

The vast majority of these deaths are preventable, and it is unacceptable that there are such high rates of maternal death in low-income countries. This is why a colleague and I, both working in obstetrics and gynecology, decided to establish Maternity Worldwide in 2002. At Maternity Worldwide, we aim to help reduce the number of women dying or injured in childbirth in three Sub-Saharan African countries: Malawi, Uganda and Ethiopia. We chose this region because Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the world - 640 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is significantly higher than the 17 deaths per 100,000 in developed regions.

Our experience working in these countries has shown that the most practical way of reducing maternal deaths is to address three key delays, known as the 'Three Delay Model':

  • Delay in seeking care, often caused by the low socioeconomic status of women and poor understanding of maternal health problems in communities
  • Delay in reaching care, due to the inaccessibility of infrastructure and the lack of affordable transport
  • Delay in receiving adequate care, due to a lack of trained staff, poorly equipped facilities and inadequate referral systems

In responding to these challenges, we have been able to make a difference across all three countries. Achievements in 2016 included:

  • Working in 50 villages in Malawi to provide maternal health information through local women's groups, so they are aware of the risks of pregnancy and childbirth and can seek medical assistance early. More than 2,000 people have attended these groups, with 86 percent now aware of the danger signs to look for during pregnancy. Ninety-five percent would recommend local healthcare to a friend or relative in the future.
  • Training 67 Health Surveillance Assistants, who are employed by the Malawian Government to provide maternal health information in the villages. This means that once women reach a health facility, fully trained staff are available to assist them.
  • Opening our Maternity Center in Kiryabutuzi, Uganda. We have recruited two midwives, who have already started to establish health promotion sessions in the 14 surrounding villages.

Our goal for 2017 is to train more student midwives, increase the number of midwives at our health centers, and deliver health promotion sessions to more women's groups, along with antenatal care for pregnant women. However, we can't do this without the help of our fantastic supporters, which is why I want to thank everybody in the Mindr community for the upcoming advocacy workshop being held as a benefit for Maternity Worldwide. Without people like you, we would be unable to do this lifesaving work, and International Women's Day is the perfect time to highlight the inequalities still prevalent today across the world and to make a change.

For more information about Maternity Worldwide, check out their website, Facebook and Twitter.

Hey, content creators! #MakeThemMoms.

Hey, content creators! #MakeThemMoms.

Mindr presenter Mathilde Dratwa is the founder of the advocacy and community-building organization Moms-in-Film.

On screen, I have seen scantily-clad women and women completely naked, and I have seen nipples of all shades and shapes and sizes. I have seen breasts - either bare or barely concealed - being fondled, caressed, squeezed, pinched, licked and bitten. I have seen much of this happen in mainstream movies. But I have never seen a woman pump.

The representation of mothers on screen is important. According to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, when TV procedurals began casting women as forensic scientists, forensic science training programs saw a notable spike in female applicants. If young girls donโ€™t see working mothers portrayed on screen, they are more likely to develop an ingrained belief that motherhood comes at the cost of oneโ€™s career. It is therefore paramount that moms work to tell the stories of working moms.

Since the film industry is particularly taxing on parents, mothers are underrepresented behind the camera. As a direct result, the world sees few on-screen mothers. When they do appear, they are all too often two-dimensional characters. Our #MakeThemMoms campaign urges content creators to include mothers in their projects - particularly working mothers, who are often absent from film scripts.

Many women worry that motherhood might make them 'invisible,' that it's all-consuming, or that it's incompatible with a successful career. Where do these fears come from? In most films, moms are secondary characters. They exist only in relation to their children. The few times that leading roles go to a mom-character, the story is usually about family. Television is doing slightly better - Catastrophe is a show in which I see my experience reflected (there's even a joke about pumping! Hurray!) and Elissa Strauss has noted a few other examples of mothers edging their way into comedy content. But these stories remain absent from the big screen.

My organization, Moms-in-Film, advocates to increase public awareness around issues facing parents making film/television. The Wee Wagon project, launching this March at SXSW 2017, serves as our most public advocacy tool to energize the careers of moms in film. We believe that more women working behind the camera leads directly to more complex women on screen. We believe that the stories we choose to tell matter; they define us as a society.

Here are some examples of what movie posters might look like if they featured moms. Note that the stories themselves don't need to be any different! You can see all of the posters we created here

So, content creators: #MakeThemMoms.

5 things to do in NYC right now that your baby will love as much as you do

5 things to do in NYC right now that your baby will love as much as you do

We love a good chorus of 'the wheels on the bus' (or, since we're in New York, 'taxi, taxi, riding in the back seat') as much as the next guy.  But there comes a time when one more shake of those colorful maracas might be all that we can take.  Fortunately, this city is home to a glorious array of hidden gems that are great for baby's development, and mama's, too.  Here are five for you and your little companion to check out this week.

Installation view of Take Me (I'm Yours). Photo: Jewish Museum.

Installation view of Take Me (I'm Yours). Photo: Jewish Museum.

Take Me (I'm Yours)
Now through February 5th, the Jewish Museum, 1109 5th Ave at 92nd St. Free on Saturdays, otherwise $15.
In this unconventional exhibition, viewers are encouraged to participate, touch and even take home works of art by more than 40 artists from different generations.  The exhibition aims to 'democratize' art, subverting the traditional museum experience by allowing you to shape the art yourself.  Which is especially convenient if your baby is in that slobbery-grabby phase that can make visiting a more traditional art gallery slightly awkward.
More info: http://thejewishmuseum.org/exhibitions/take-me-im-yours

Lunar New Year celebrations in New York. Photo: Raymond, made available by a Creative Commons license via Flickr.

Lunar New Year celebrations in New York. Photo: Raymond, made available by a Creative Commons license via Flickr.

Lunar New Year Parade and Festival
February 5th from 1pm, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Grand St at Forsyth St. Free.
Celebrate the dawn of the year of the Rooster with this explosion of color and sound (baby headphones optional).  There will be dancing, drumming, and delicacies, and it's said that the more dumplings you eat the more money you'll make, so we're going to be very, very rich.  Vivid celebrations can also be found in Sunset Park and Flushing.
More info: www.nycgo.com/events/lunar-new-year-parade-festival

Installation view of Exhibitionism. Photo: Exhibitionism

Installation view of Exhibitionism. Photo: Exhibitionism

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones
Now through March 12th. Industria, 775 Washington St. $30, or 2-for-1 with NYC Attractions Week until February 5th.
Featuring a vintage guitar gallery, rare instruments and lyric books, backstage paraphernalia, album art, photographs, personal diaries and stage designs, as well as almost 200 original artworks by Andy Warhol and others, there's plenty here for the avid Stones fan.  And if your tiny rockstar's got moves like Jagger, they'll like the immersive concert experience at the end and the plentiful supply of giant, color-changing fluoro tongues sticking out all around the place.  Five dollar stroller checking is mandatory, so you may want to opt for the carrier.
More info: www.stonesexhibitionism.com
ย 

Immersion Room, Cooper Hewitt. Photo: Wolftone, made available by Creative Commons license via Flickr.

Immersion Room, Cooper Hewitt. Photo: Wolftone, made available by Creative Commons license via Flickr.

Cooper Hewitt (Smithsonian Design Museum)
2 East 91st St.  $16, or 2-for-1 with NYC Attractions Week until February 5th.
The emporium of creativity that is the Cooper Hewitt museum will dazzle you with its displays of clever technologies, innovative architecture and global design competition winners, and impress your tiny companion with its colors, shapes and sounds.  The 'process lab' provides a window into the ways designers help to address public challenges, such as dependence on cars, access to healthcare, or the restoration of housing after natural disasters.  An especially big hit with the little ones is the Immersion Room, which projects intricate wallpaper designs from the museum's vast collection (or those of your own making) onto the walls from floor to ceiling.
More info: www.cooperhewitt.org

Immersive kung pow chicken. Photo: Sarah Lux-Lee

Immersive kung pow chicken. Photo: Sarah Lux-Lee

Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant
Museum of Food and Drink, 62 Bayard St, Brooklyn. $14.
This fun, fledgling food museum, which got its start as a Kickstarter-funded roving exhibition about cereal, provides a bite-sized window into the evolution of Chinese American cuisine.  Learn about the game-changing role of chop suey, grab a fresh fortune cookie directly off the conveyor belt, and design your own philosophical token for a future visitor to find in theirs.  A smell-making machine, remnant from a previous exhibition about flavor, will let you introduce your little one to scents ranging from citrus to skunk.  You'll also get to watch a Chinese American delicacy being made by a pro, and sample it for yourself.
More info: www.mofad.org

If you're looking for more baby-friendly activities that will expand your mind, join us for our upcoming event on February 8th at 4-6pm, where we will be screening the award-winning short film 'Escape from Garden Grove' and hosting a Q&A with its mama-director, Mathilde Dratwa.