Half the Sky Movement Hosts Google+ Hangout on Maternal Health

Posted on January 25, 2013, by Ann Wright, Half the Sky Movement

Did you know that a woman dies in childbirth every two minutes? Or that every year, 30,000 to 50,000 women suffer from obstetric fistula, a childbirth injury that leaves a woman incontinent and often shunned by her community –– and which can be treated with a $450 surgery?

Although the problems seem vast, there are maternal health advocates working now to help women who suffer from obstetric fistula, and to help ensure that mothers around the world receive the care they need to safely deliver their children. We’re delighted to host a Google+ Hangout this coming Monday, Jan. 28, at 1:30 p.m. ET / 10:30 a.m. PT with several leading advocates for maternal health: Edna Adan, founder of Edna Adan’s Maternity Hospital in Somaliland, Kate Grant, executive director of the Fistula Foundation, and Christy Turlington Burns, founder of Every Mother Counts. Documentary filmmaker Perri Peltz will moderate the discussion and field questions from you!

The speakers bring a range of perspectives from their backgrounds as maternal health advocates. Edna Adan,  who was highlighted in the book and PBS television documentary series Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, was forced to undergo female genital mutilation at the age of eight, which set her on a path to become a passionate advocate against female circumcision, including during her career at the World Health Organization. Edna used her life’s savings to open a hospital for women in rural Somaliland because of the overwhelming need in her native country of Somalia, which was devastated by civil war –– leaving it with one of highest rates of maternal and infant mortality in the world. She’s on a mission to train and dispatch 1,000 midwives throughout Somalia and to fight the longstanding practice of female genital mutilation.

Every Mother Counts, a nonprofit started by Christy Turlington Burns, shines a light on and builds support for organizations like Edna’s. Widely known as a successful international model, Christy was compelled by her own experiences as a mother to use her fame as a platform to raise awareness about the lack of basic maternal care for women in the developing world. In 2010, Turlington directed No Woman, No Cry, a documentary exploring the obstacles to maternal health around the world and shortly thereafter founded Every Mother Counts. The organization helps educate people about the maternal health challenges faced by women around the world and provides an answer and outlet for those wanting to know how they can get involved.

Kate Grant has been CEO of The Fistula Foundation since 2005, when they supported one institution providing critical care to women suffering from fistulas after childbirth in Ethiopia; its current global reach extends through 42 sites throughout 19 countries. The foundation provides funding to build hospitals, equipment, medical staff and fistula surgery treatment, and has been a long-term partner and supporter of Edna. The Oprah Winfrey Show and Nicholas Kristof have featured The Fistula Foundation’s great work.

Moderator Perri Peltz recently directed the highly acclaimed HBO documentary, The Education of Dee Dee Ricks, which profiles the disparities in the U.S. health care system as seen through the lens of an unlikely friendship between two very different women battling breast cancer. Both in and outside journalism, Perri has pursued her passion for public health and medicine.  Working at the Robin Hood Foundation, she developed volunteer programs to assist organizations in their fight against poverty.

We hope you will tune in to the Google+ Hangout to learn more from these incredible women! Leave your questions for the panelists in the comments section, and they will be answered in real time! Please RSVP here and we will send the link ten minutes before we start.