Across Ethiopia some 22,000 women died in 2005 due to causes “related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management” (as reported by the WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and the World Bank). Martha believes that women must feel empowered to solve their own problems if these figures are to decrease and maternal health solutions are to become sustainable. Martha is developing maternal health clubs in rural areas that will focus on building networks of female educators to devise community-based solutions to women’s health. The clubs will leverage existing female relationships to facilitate discussions around harmful traditional practices, gender-based violence, and health-seeking behavior during pregnancy, and will disseminate key information to members from the global public health field. By leveraging community bonds that already exist between women, Martha is innovatively targeting limited access to healthcare and education in rural Ethiopia.


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.

To read more about Kathryn’s work, click here. To read more about her organization, click here.


Martha Fikre Adenew 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. Martha will also be engaged in the fundraising process and will help to develop the financial model for the program.