Young Champions of Maternal Health

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The MHTF is thrilled to announce our partnership with Ashoka to select and support a cadre of young professionals dedicated to maternal health. The Young Champions will be selected through a competitive process administered through Ashoka’s Changemakers online platform starting in December and we expect to discover some energetic and innovative young people to help carry the maternal health agenda forward. Look for more details from us about this new initiative in the coming months! Meanwhile, here’s the joint press release from Ashoka and the MHTF announcing our partnership this week at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York.

Building the Next Generation of Global Leaders—
Maternal Health Task Force and Ashoka Partner

September 21, 2009, NEW YORK—The Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth and Ashoka will partner to create the first international fellowship program that links committed young professionals with seasoned social entrepreneurs to improve maternal health in developing countries. The Maternal Health Task Force and Ashoka will be featuring the Young Champions for Maternal Health Program as a commitment to action at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City, September 22–25.

“This is the first fellowship program to focus exclusively on global maternal health and comes at a moment when the need is more urgent than ever. By supporting a new generation of passionate and committed innovators, we grow one step closer to saving women’s lives and eliminating the gross disparity between developed and developing countries when it comes to maternal health,” said Ana Langer, M.D., president of EngenderHealth.

The Young Champions will be selected through Ashoka’s Changemakers online competition platform, and each will spend nine months working with—and being mentored by—an Ashoka Fellow. At the end of their work-study, each Young Champion will design a concrete solution addressing a maternal health challenge that the Maternal Health Task Force and Ashoka will jointly promote to the global maternal health community.

Bill Drayton, Founder and CEO of Ashoka, observes that “the focus on the entrepreneur in this partnership is consistent with emerging global trends and Ashoka’s vision of change. By nurturing the professional growth of Young Champions, the Maternal Health Task Force and Ashoka will identify new leaders with solutions to improve the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond.”

Following a competitive selection process, the Maternal Health Task Force chose Ashoka as its Young Champions partner for its established success in identifying social entrepreneurs. The fellowship program will link the Young Champions to leading global experts and provide the community with fresh perspectives and ideas, while opening growth and mentorship opportunities for the Young Champions.

About EngenderHealth and the Maternal Health Task Force
EngenderHealth is a leading international reproductive health organization working to improve the quality of health care in the world’s poorest communities. EngenderHealth empowers people to make informed choices about contraception, trains health providers to make motherhood safer, promotes gender equity, enhances the quality of HIV and AIDS services, and advocates for positive policy change. The nonprofit organization works in partnership with governments, institutions, communities, and health care professionals in 25 countries around the world. For more information, visit

The Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth brings together existing maternal health networks and engages new organizations to facilitate global coordination of maternal health programs. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Maternal Health Task Force convenes stakeholders and creates an inclusive setting to engage in dialogue, build consensus, foster innovation, and share information. For more information, visit

About Ashoka
Founded in 1980, Ashoka is the world’s working community of more than 2,000 leading social entrepreneurs. It champions the most important new social change ideas and supports the entrepreneurs behind them by helping them get started, grow, succeed, and collaborate. As Ashoka expands its capacity to integrate and connect social and business entrepreneurs around the world, it builds an entrepreneurial infrastructure comprised of a series of global initiatives that support the fast-growing needs of the citizen sector. Ashoka’s vision is to create change today, for an Everyone A Changemaker™ society to become the reality of tomorrow. For more information, visit

Tim Thomas, Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth

Tyler Spalding, Ashoka