In December’s post, Expectant American Mothers Help Raise Funds for Mothers in Developing Nations, the Imagine Me & You contest finalists had been announced. The Million Moms Challenge has now chosen a winner from its photo contest, in which hundreds of expectant mothers from across the United States submitted images with original messages, written on their “baby bumps,” stating their wishes and dreams for their children. In partnership with ABC News and the United Nations Foundation, the contest was aimed at engaging a million Americans with millions of mothers in developing countries around issues that impact pregnancy, child birth, and children’s health. The contest is part of ABC News’ year-long global health series, “Be the Change: Save a Life,” sponsored in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and focused on health conditions endured by those in poor developing countries.
The winning photo and message was submitted by Allison Dearstyne, a ninth grade history teacher from Maryland, and was selected by Anne Geddes from among the 12 finalists. Dearstyne’s winning ”baby bump” message read: “May You Stay Forever Young,” a lyric from a favorite Bob Dylan song and a dream that all mother’s across the globe hold in their hearts for their children. “I’m moved by how many mothers have come together through this contest,” said Geddes. “The Million Moms Challenge designed this contest to celebrate the dream of mothers everywhere for healthy, happy babies who will grow to reach their full potential. I’m looking forward to meeting the Dearstyne family and continuing to be part of this strong community of mothers helping mothers.” (UN Dispatch).
While the contest and it’s winning photos leave most full of fuzzy warm feelings as they ooh and aah at the creative and cute “baby bumps” and their messages of love and hope, the real motivation behind the contest runs much deeper. While the mothers, and their expectant bundles of joy, are privileged enough to have access to adequate medical care and nutrition, for expectant mothers in developing nations the story of pregnancy and childbirth is often haunted by fear, as every 90 seconds a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth. That’s 1,000 girls and women a day, more than half a million women every year. Additionally, for every woman who dies, 20 or more experience serious complications, and 1 million babies are stillborn each year because their mothers could not access the proper medical care. Additionally, some 8 million children will die this year before they are 5 years old, that’s almost 21,000 children each day. More than 80 percent of these deaths could have easily been prevented.
Working for the survival of mothers and children is a crucial international development priority that must remain on the global agenda. Both the International Conference on Population and Development and Millennium Development Goals have set a goal to reduce maternal mortality between 1990 and 2015 by 75 percent. The simple yet imperative strategic goals include, ensuring that all women have access to contraception to avoid unintended pregnancies and reduce unsafe abortions (see the recent post, Unsafe abortions on the rise), provide all pregnant women with access to adequate medical care at the time of birth, and see that mothers with complications have timely access to quality emergency obstetric care.
Therefore, the message behind the Million Mom’s Challenge is simple and clear. By educating communities and bringing awareness to the plight of mothers and children in developing nations we can save millions of lives. The solutions for saving mothers and their babies are simple and not far from our grasp. For less than a dollar a day, we can provide mothers and their babies with proper nutrition, proper training for midwives, vaccinations for children, and simple technologies to deliver crucial health information to women and health workers in remote areas. To be part of the message and the solution, join the Million Mom’s Challenge here to see how you can save the lives of women and children around the world.