Ifenyinwa has a deep conviction for women’s empowerment and the ability of youth to contribute to building a new society. She has worked with a number of organizations across Nigeria that strive to improve women’s health. She helped build the Girls’ Power Initiative, an organization that encourages women to question gender roles within their own environments and become visible members of their communities. She is particularly inspired by Ashoka Fellow Kathryn Hall-Trujillo’s community-based approach to maternal health, and has modified the idea of organizing a network of “SisterFriends” that is specific to the Nigerian context. This idea, like the Birthing Project, systematically targets the most at-risk mothers by identifying community role models, training them in maternal health issues and then matching them with at-risk pregnant women who might otherwise not have access maternal healthcare.
Kathryn is bringing women of color together to nurture young moms and their babies. She has recognized that pregnancy is a prime opportunity to pair the most vulnerable young black women with a decision-making partner. Through the Birthing Project, she is redesigning pregnancy for at-risk women by emphasizing it as an opportunity to connect with another woman – a “SisterFriend” – who provides the unconditional support and trusted partner that many have never had. Birthing Project USA is increasing the number of women that are perceived and consider themselves to be leaders in the field of maternal and child wellness while encouraging them to become volunteer SisterFriends to vulnerable pregnant women.
Recently, Birthing Project USA has partnered with Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine to launch a New Orleans Birthing Project partnership.
Ifeyinwa Egwaogje will be placed at the Birthing Project’s New Orleans regional office. She will be deeply involved in all aspects of planning, implementing and evaluating the community program in this new satellite location. This role will include working directly with staff and students at Tulane University, as well as with volunteers and mothers from the community, in order to understand how each of their jobs/roles are developed, carried out and perceived by other stakeholders. Ifeyinwa will also be engaged in the fundraising process and will help to develop the financial model for the program.