First in an occasional series by OBOS staff about their work and their lives.
I was welcomed into the Our Bodies Ourselves family in January 2006, soon after I moved to Boston from India. As a die-hard reproductive justice advocate (and unabashed “Our Bodies, Ourselves” fan), I was euphoric to join the team.
The OBOS Global Initiative, which supports women’s organizations developing and using culturally specific materials based on “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” offered the perfect opportunity to weave together my commitment to women’s rights and cross-cultural movement building.
Eight years later, I have helped shepherd the development of resources based on “Our Bodies, Ourselves” in 12 additional languages (with more in development), and coalesced a global network of social change activists.
I have been privileged to meet, learn from, and grow to love this group of women, each on the frontline of human rights work in her country. I know that OBOS’s partnerships with these visionary and tenacious leaders represent a community of shared interests that is pivotal to protecting the lives of women and girls on the ground.
Beyond OBOS, I nurture my decade-long love affair with reproductive justice by supporting families with newborns. As a postpartum doula trained by DONA International, the oldest and largest doula association in the world, and young mum (and as a child who benefitted enormously from the loving arms of extended family), I am personally affected by and committed to changing the state of postpartum care in the United States — one mummy at a time!
My doula-ing started rather unexpectedly and informally in 2009, with the birth of my niece. Though I have always been acutely aware of the growing global crisis in maternal and postpartum care through my work overseas and at OBOS, being with my sister and her family during and after the birth was transformative — the proverbial eye-opener. I quickly became aware of the awesomeness of their task; a task that really does take a village.
At the time, my goal was simple: to love and provide everything my sister and her partner needed to stay nourished and focused on their baby and each other. From hot meals and daily grocery runs, to endless loads of laundry and late-night, sleepy-eyed banter to keep my sister awake (and laughing) through yet another round of pumping, I did my best and loved (nearly) every moment of it.
OBOS, with its four-decade journey and networks of women’s health activists, has connected me with women who, like me, are drawn to the sides of expectant and new mothers. With these relationships, I am now gaining stride in my doula-clogs.
I thank the families that have let me into their homes and lives; I am honored and humbled by their trust. As OBOS expands its global reach, I thank the women who have become our steadfast co-conspirators in a collective struggle. I am inspired by the fire in their bellies.
And to all of you: I thank you for cheering us on and hope you will remain our committed partners as we plough ahead, forging a global community where women live without fear, with dignity, wrought as a fundamental human right.
Ayesha Chatterjee is the OBOS Global Initiative program manager.