Inspired by Young Champions on IWD

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By: Dr. Ann Blanc, Director, MHTF

International Women’s Day is a day dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women past, present, and future. As I reflect on this day, I am especially inspired by the achievements of the Young Champions of Maternal Health – their current achievements, but also the promise of the future that they represent. If you read the blog posts written by the Young Champions here on the MHTF site, I think you will be inspired too. Many of them have been placed in wholly unfamiliar environments and are bravely learning to adapt, identifying many similarities between the problems they have seen in their own countries and those in their temporary homes.

For example, Sara Al-Lamki from Oman is working with Yayasan Rama Sesana, an NGO in Bali that focuses on reproductive health education and services for market women in Denpasar, Bali’s capital. She acknowledges being way out of her comfort zone and facing many challenges, but has become even more determined to ‘change the face of reproductive health in the Arab world and beyond.’ Egwaoje Ifeyinwa Madu from Nigeria is working in New Orleans with Ashoka Fellow Kathryn Hall-Trujillo on the Birthing Project, which pairs “SisterFriends” with vulnerable young mothers. In the course of her work, she is also learning about adapting the model to the Nigerian context, writing funding proposals, and partnering with local businesses – all lessons that she plans to take back to Nigeria to launch her own project. And Carolina Damasio is living in Mali and working with an organization called APAF Muso Danbé to develop her idea – The Art of Being Born – of using artistic techniques and music to do health education with impoverished rural mothers and improve the mother-baby bond.

With women like these (and men too!) developing into future leaders in the maternal health community, it is easy to be optimistic about the day when we will celebrate the eradication of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity.