Manifesto for Maternal Health: Highlights From Christy Turlington Burns

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By: Christy Turlington Burns, Founder, Every Mother Counts

Anniversaries make us look back and project forward on all the events and opportunities that bring us closer to our goals.  As we celebrate the first anniversary of the Maternal Health Manifesto, I’m thinking about how daunting the Manifesto’s 12 points for improving maternal health post 2015 can seem.  I’m also thinking about how many organizations are working together and breaking those points down to baby steps.

Every Mother Counts is in its second year as a 501c3 and we’ve approached our mission of making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother with our own set of baby steps – a three-pronged approach that covers our reach, action and impact.  We started as a campaign to raise awareness about the global maternal health crisis.  Our goal was to Reach as many people as possible to make them aware that women around the world are dying during pregnancy and childbirth and inform them of the barriers women face that lead to their deaths.  As people became aware, we realized we needed to do more.  People wanted to take Action to help women survive and thrive, so we created meaningful ways to engage people in raising awareness in their own communities and helping us raise funds that go directly to support maternal health projects.  That had quite the Impact and we’ve long since gone from taking baby steps with our organization to running the distance.  In 2013 alone, we gave birth to new partnerships, new grants, and a brand new board of directors.

Here’s what our Reach, Action and Impact look like now:

Reach – We’re always looking for ways to bring this universal issue to life for an otherwise uninformed audience. We blend the substantive information and updates from our grantees and our other non-profit partners, the creativity and reach of our private sector partners and the opportunities afforded us through traditional and social media to build an audience and engage them in new ways. In 2013, we tracked nearly 890 million media impressions, increased web traffic by 81%, grew our Facebook following by 26% and our twitter following by 65%.

Action – Our community has taken a total of almost 5.3 million actions in support of maternal health since we started keeping track in 2012. We’ve noted a significant increase in the number of individuals who’ve made direct donations,  As running is among our best received actions, EMC supporters have sponsored or run in 5Ks, 10Ks and full marathons around the country or simply ran as part of their fitness routine and donated to us through Charity Miles. In fact in 2013 the number of runners for eMC increased from 1,709 in 2012 to 37,425 in 2013. We also noted an increase in the number of people who participated in events where they could learn more about maternal health—increasing from 1,317 in 2012 to 33,107 in 2013.

Impact – The most significant achievement for 2013 was our ability to translate those actions into impact. We initiated our grand portfolio in the fourth quarter of 2012 so 2013 is truly our first full year of grant funding. We funded four new grantees in 2013 for a total of 6 EMC grants that cover five countries around the world. Not only do these grants allow us to address some access barriers, they also help provide regular updates to our community on how funds are being allocated and their impact on real lives.

We are excited about our progress and the role EMC has played to reduce the number of preventable maternal deaths around the world. We know it will take the time and effort to meet all 12 Maternal Health Manifesto goals, but we truly believe that together, we CAN make pregnancy and childbirth safe for Every Mother.

The MHTF is currently celebrating the Manifesto for Maternal Health’s one year anniversary through a blog series. Would you like to contribute? Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook. Or send us an email.