Celebrating All Mothers, Everywhere

By Christine Cupaiuolo — May 7, 2011

Motherhood and Justice: This special series, published at RH Reality Check in partnership with Strong Families, examines various issues at the intersection of justice and motherhood.

Recent stories include: “The Up and Down Journey of Motherhood: Let’s Lift As They Climb,” by Marlene Sanchez; “Supporting Her Journey: A Full-Spectrum Doula’s Look at the Politics of Motherhood,” by Lauren Guy-McAlpin; and “Mother’s Day 2011: Why Reproductive Justice Is a Black Thing,” by Walidah Imarisha.

Strong Families, a project of Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice, is a national initiative to change the way people think, feel and act in support of families. Read more accounts of motherhood at the ACRJ blog, and view some of the amazing stories Strong Families has collected, along with this video:

Beyond Flowers for Mom: Want a new way to honor mothers? How about doing something that saves the lives of women around the world?

Nicholas Kristof writes about the work of Edna Adan, who runs a maternity hospital in Somaliland. The hospital is supported in part by the Friends of Edna Maternity Hospital, who were prompted to get involved by this 1999 article about Adan’s work. From Kristof’s recent column:

On a continent where hospitals are often dilapidated and depressing, Edna’s is modern, sterile and hums with efficiency. She lives in an apartment above the hospital so that she is available 24/7, and she accepts no salary. She also donates her U.N. pension each month to help pay hospital expenses.

So far, the hospital says it has delivered about 10,000 babies, some of them after the woman was rushed to the hospital gate in a wheelbarrow. Edna has also used her hospital to train Somali midwives to serve in remote areas. Training a midwife at Edna’s hospital costs $215 a month for 18 months — and then that midwife will save mothers and babies for many years.

If there’s ever a time when the needless deaths of women in childbirth — one every 90 seconds or so somewhere in the world, according to the United Nations — should be on our radar screen, it’s at Mother’s Day. And we know how to save those lives.

Continue reading for more information about organizations doing great work, such as CARE, Save the Children (see its new report, “State of the World’s Mothers“), the Fistula Foundation and Mothers’ Day Movement — which was was founded by six women who were shocked to learn that $14 billion was spent in the United States in 2010 on Mother’s Day celebrations. They’d like to see a portion of that money donated to spending on programs and services for those in need.

Update to Amnesty Report on Maternal Health Crisis: Amnesty International has released an update to its 2010 report, “Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA” (both are pdf’s) that highlights important new studies and legislative developments.

Visit Amnesty’s section on maternal health is a human right for more information and links, including info about the Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2011.

Over at Human Rights Now, AI’s blog, be sure to read “Why Midwives And Maternal Health Need To Go Hand-In-Hand,” by Jennie Joseph, a midwife in Winter Garden, Fla. Joseph is clinical director of The Birth Place, a full-service midwifery clinic and birth center, and developer of the JJ Way, a midwifery curriculum geared toward eliminating disparities.

She is featured in Christy Turlington Burns’ documentary film “No Woman, No Cry,” which tells the stories of at-risk pregnant women in four parts of the world. “No Woman, No Cry” makes its debut this weekend on the OWN network (as in Oprah’s). One more clip:

Plus: Finally, on a lighter note — what six words describe your mom? The New York Times is hosting a contest. View all submissions and read the rules here. Amid the many joyful descriptions, some are heartbreakingly painful. Here’s one I could really identify with: Clenched teeth: “Deborah Ann, what now?”

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