We laughed. We cried. We watched in partial horror and partial amusement as our littles chewed on expensive delegate microphones. We talked about the things that move us forward and hold us back, and strategized about the future.
On March 8th 2018, mothers and their allies gathered in co-working spaces and coffee shops, adventure parks and ski slopes, universities and yoga studios, and even at the United Nations, to participate in the inaugural World’s Biggest Mama Meetup. Mindr and the United Nations Foundation’s Global Moms Challenge organized this global campaign to make mothers' voices heard within the gender equality conversation that takes place annually on International Women’s Day. And we were completely blown away by the result.
Photos from the flagship UN event by Stylish & Hip Kids Photography. See the full album with photos by Stylish & Hip Kids, Lena Grae Photography, Mia Oh Photography and Emily Barnacle here.
“Today we are writing a new page in United Nations history, because this is the first time that babies are welcome and their mothers can be part of the discussion,” said Sofia Herrera, President of the Women’s International Forum (WIF), when she opened the flagship #MAMAMEET2018 event at UNHQ. The event was hosted by WIF and sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Austria to the UN and almost 600 mothers and hundreds of babies and young children attended, filling every seat. If you missed it, you can watch back the livestream on UN TV and the segment broadcast on the Fox 5 NY evening news. If you were there, we know you'll agree the air was electric.
Globally, sister meetups took place all over Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania. They featured discussions about women’s rights, climate change, paid parental leave, access to healthcare and education, and how mothers can work together to progress the Sustainable Development Goals. The call to action was voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar in a campaign video created by Moms-in-Film, and we were inspired by the number and of women and allies who took up the call worldwide.
Moms Africa hosted meetups in 17 locations across Nigeria and Egypt. “Being a part of #MAMAMEET2018 proved to me how powerful moms can be when we are united,” said the organization’s Founder and President Mary Ikoku. Nibble + Squeak, The Founding Moms and Make Mothers Matter, three trailblazing organizations working serving mothers worldwide in the social, entrepreneurial and advocacy spheres, organized meetups in dozens of cities around the globe.
Barriers facing mothers in the workplace and strategies for overcoming them were a common theme, from Trinidad to Vietnam to Cape Town to Paris to Chicago to Detroit to Australia. This concern was echoed by Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, who addressed the flagship event at the United Nations in New York: “What we need is a mindset shift. Not supporting mothers who are able to contribute so much for the entire organization - it would be a loss.”
Meetups worldwide discussed public policy improvements needed to protect mothers and their families. Groups in Dallas, Detroit and Charleston focused on safety from violence, while a gathering in Scottsdale featured an address by Representative Athena Salman about the importance of local activism. A meetup organized by Social Good Lagos focused on the personal within the political: “The first place to start from is how women see themselves. Do you see yourself as deserving?” asked panelist Omojani Regina Isioma.
Health and wellness also emerged as a theme. Yoga classes and guided meditations took place in Brazil, California, Arizona and at the UN Foundation offices in Washington, D.C, and online discussions about safe breastfeeding and maternal health were hosted by Pumpspotting and Merck for Mothers. Meetups from the UK to Beijing focused on the importance of community, while a gathering at Disneyland highlighted the importance of supporting woman-led businesses. Meetups also took place in workplaces, including many co-working spaces, the UN offices in Geneva, local Impact Travel Alliance chapters and several offices of the nonprofit organization Save the Children.
Photos from some of the many #MAMAMEET2018 gatherings that took place across 6 of 7 continents (photo credits appear in desktop view).
We were overwhelmed by the energy, passion and determination with which our call to action was picked up by mothers worldwide, who were ready to spring to action. And we have loved hearing your responses, like this one:
You can also check out my initial thoughts about the day in my role as Mindr's founder, as well as an album of photos by our incredible mama-photographers and some beautiful recaps by Millennial Mom, Finally Home JC and the United Nations itself.
On behalf of Mindr and the Global Moms Challenge, we want to express our gratitude and admiration for every individual and organization who mobilized and participated in the World’s Biggest Mama Meetup 2018. Together, we learned, discussed, strategized and connected, in our individual meetups and as a global community, all with our little ones by our sides.
Watch this space, mamas – we can’t wait for what’s to come next year.