Category Archives: Motherhood

USAID Launches Global Development Lab

USAID Launches Global Development Lab

As we close in on 2015 the Millennium Development Goals will hit their deadline. USAID has just launched the Global Development Lab, which takes MDG # 8, to  Develop A Global Partnership For Development, into the next set of goals to be reached by 2030. USAID has partnered with 32 companies and organizations to reach the mission:

To discover, test, and scale breakthrough development innovations to solve development challenges faster and cheaper in support of U.S. foreign policy and development goals and to accelerate the transformation of USAID as the world’s premier development agency.-USAID Global Development Lab Mission Statement

I am excited to see the amazing partners involved, including my neighbors Plan, and Nike, as well as some of my other favorites, Save The Children, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Johns Hopkins University (my husband’s an alum). The lab launched Thursday April 3rd,  and I can’t wait to see the breakthroughs a collaboration of this magnitude is sure to bring! Watch the video below to find out what it’s all about.

#March4Nutrition: The Critical Role of Nutrition From Pregnancy To The Age of Two

#March4Nutrition: The Critical Role of Nutrition From Pregnancy To The Age of Two

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Searching for food pantry donations to add to my shopping cart, I realized that as much as some of the the food I’d choose would fill bellies, it might not provide much actual nutrition. I had to switch modes from trying to find pantry items with shelf life, to pantry items with nutritious value.  Hunger and nutrition go hand in hand, but are really two separate elements of the same problem. Nutrition has been found to be especially critical during the period through pre-natal care up to a child’s second birthday when human development is most rapid.  

March is  National Nutrition Month, and the 1,000 Days Partnership organized an online #March4Nutrition to raise awareness about the critical role of nutrition in the 1,000 day window from a woman’s pregnancy to the child’s second birthday.  Healthy mothers have healthy babies, who in turn grow up to be healthy mothers who have healthy babies themselves.  The impact of good nutrition early in life can not be stressed enough. Good nutrition has long reaching positive impact that carries through into the child’s future.  When a children grow up to lead healthy and productive lives, families,  communities, and ultimately countries are positively impacted, and can break the cycle of poverty.

Leading scientists, economists and health experts agree that improving nutrition during the critical 1,000 day window is one of the best investments we can make to achieve lasting progress in global health and development.-www.Thousanddays.org

This months campaign broke down the 1,000 day period into stages, highlighting important aspects at each point.

  • Pre-Pregnancy to Birth: During pregnancy not getting proper nutrition can have a detrimental effect on the healthy growth and development of the child.  This increases the risk of death as  a newborn and make the baby more likely to suffer from cognitive delays or physical defects, and possibly chronic health problems later in life.
  • Infancy, Birth To Six Months: Great emphasis is put on the importance of breastfeeding during this time period, and the need to support mothers to do so. According to The World Health Organization breast milk, which is readily available and affordable, is the ideal food for a newborn. It provides both nutrients and antibodies that can help protect infants from common illnesses.
  • Toddlerhood, Six months To Two Years Old: At this stage continuing breastfeeding if possible, and adding in nutritious foods, plenty of water, and maintaining good hygiene can have life long health benefits.

Malnutrition is a global issue, and the leading cause of death of young children throughout the world. It happens here too, according to my local food bank 1 in 3 customers they serve will be children.  Having learned what I did this month throughout the #March4Nutrition, as I finished my shopping the other day I was sure to add in protein like Peanut butter, tuna fish, and beans. I chose whole grain products and canned fruits, and vegetables. Although I’m aware it is just a drop in the bucket, I believe every child deserves a chance to grow to their full potential. Raising awareness and donating what I can is how I can put my beliefs into action.

 Learn more by following the #March4Nutrition hashtag with @The1,000DaysPartnership if you believe that every child, everywhere, deserves the right nutrition to grow, learn and thrive.

global teamI wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health. Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

 

Our Chance To Eliminate Toxic Chemicals From Everyday Products

Our Chance To Eliminate Toxic Chemicals From Everyday Products

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Sign this petition to #FightToxins in our products!

This is a sponsored post written in conjunction with a Seventh Generation awareness campaign about toxins in our everyday products, and how we can change that.  As always all opinions are my own.

I rummaged through my cabinets the other day grabbed all of the plastic cups my kids drink out of and all of those plastic take out food containers I was saving to re-use, and threw them into the recycling bin. In the car I had been listening to a report on NPR about the BPA safety controversy. First it was supposed to be dangerous, now “they” are saying it’s safe…..Any plastics I had purchased were supposedly BPA free to begin with, but on the radio experts said any plastic food containers may still contain harmful elements. One quote from the story impacted me in particular. The show host, referring to plastics, had said something like ” We speculate about what is causing the rise in cancer, and I wonder if the answer has not been right in front of us all along.”  I realized I had been following the various reports that BPA is harmful or not, but that comment on the radio made me re-think who I am counting to deliver the data. As a mom I decided it’s not worth the risk. These are my children, to companies they are just a statistic. It should not be that way, and we should be able to count on our government agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, to keep products on the market safe.

I have always been careful about the cleaning products that I use in my home, we have four kids, a dog, well water, and a septic tank. This puts us in delicate balance with our environment and it’s impact on our health.  Seventh Generation products are some of the ones I’ve been using for years to safely keep things clean. I’ve always liked the idea reflected in the company name, that what we do today lays the path for the next seven generations to come.  I am thrilled to support the companies’ efforts to help pass new reform on the Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA, that would help the Environmental Protection Agency to take regulatory action against dangerous chemicals present in our everyday products currently on the market.  One of the problems is that the TSCA has not been changed since 1976. This has allowed companies to add chemicals to our products that are known to cause cancer or cause serious health side-effects.  Even worse there are more than 80,000 chemicals available in the United States that have never been fully tested for their toxic effects on our health and environment!

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Do you remember hearing about the toxic water contamination in Charleston, West Virginia not too long ago? One of the scariest things about the coverage on that story was that I kept hearing them say..”such and such chemical was also found but it’s safety has never been tested before so we can’t say if it is safe or not.” Yeesh, I thought, It would take me a long time to trust that water again! Exposure to toxic chemicals, even in small amounts has been scientifically linked to health risks like cancer, asthma, learning disabilities, and reproductive problems. Don’t you think that true meaningful chemical reform should be put in place to protect the most vulnerable among us; the kids, pregnant mothers, and communities directly exposed to these toxic chemicals? It should also require that the public has access to all information regarding chemical safety levels, allow states to protect their residents, and have the EPA take swift action within specific timetables. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“For the 22,000 chemicals introduced since 1976, chemical manufacturers have provided little or no information to the EPA regarding their potential health or environmental impacts.

These chemicals are found in toys and other children’s products, cleaning and personal care items, furniture, electronics, food and beverage containers, building materials, fabrics, and car interiors.

Since 1976 scientists have linked exposure to toxic chemicals to many health risks. There is growing recognition in the scientific community that exposure to even low doses of certain chemicals, particularly in the womb or during early childhood, can disturb our hormonal, reproductive, and immune systems, and that multiple chemicals can act together to harm human health. Some toxic chemicals can even persist in the environment, for decades sometimes, building up in the food chain and in our bodies. Cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, birth defects, and other reproductive problems are all associated, to some degree, with exposure to toxic chemicals in animals or humans.”-Natural Resources Defense Council

I don’t think we should sit by and wait for others to do the right thing for our families, we need to demand that Congress reevaluate the Toxic Substances Control Act for the first time since 1976.

We can help make a change! Seventh Generation is working to push a reform on TSCA which would have all of these chemicals studied and evaluated. Join the movement to protect our kids and future generations to come.

visit www.fighttoxins.com to sign the petition that will be presented to congress on April, 30th 2014.

You can follow the hashtag #FightToxins to stay up to date in the campaign.

Photo provided by Seventh Generation

Photo provided by Seventh Generation

All information on the TSCA and images provided by Seventh Generation

Global Impact’s Women And Girls Fund On #InternationalWomen’sDay

Global Impact’s Women And Girls Fund On #InternationalWomen’sDay
Woman in Long Ampung, Borneo taken by Elizabeth Atalay

Woman in Long Ampung, Borneo taken by Elizabeth Atalay

I was trying not to stare at her earlobe, but finally I had to ask. Not in English mind you because she spoke the local dialect of her village in Kalimantan. I asked her in that international pantomime us travelers learn to speak. One earlobe hung to her chin weighted with gold rings like most of the women. It was the inverted crescent of the other ear that had caught my attention, where the decorative lobe had been cut off.  She stood and sliced the air with two hands holding an invisible scythe. Bending over she then grasped at the shorn earlobe.  Chuckles came from the other village women with whom I sat on the floor of the longhouse as she did this, and I nodded that I understood.

According to Global Impact, two-thirds of the labor to produce more than half the world’s food is done by women. Meanwhile women control less than 10 percent of the world’s assets. I had seen the women working in the fields, carrying thatched backpacks full of grain back to the village, and then pounding it into fine powder.  The missing earlobe was merely an occupational hazard. In turn she motioned to her belly in a sweeping outward gesture unmistakable as pregnancy, and then clasped her arms to her breast. I shook my head “no” and smiled.  I had no children yet, knowing as their faces flooded with pity that being in my mid twenties this would be shocking to them. Still, despite our cultural differences and our language barriers, I remember being amazed at the feeling of sisterhood I felt as their guest. I was a stranger from a faraway land, but as women we connected and understood each other on some very basic level.

This type of experience would repeat itself for me all round the world, fortifying my sense of global sisterhood as I went. The feeling was bolstered even more so after having my own children, knowing for women the experiences that go along with that are universal.  As is the love we feel for our children, and our hopes and dreams for their futures.  That sisterhood stays with me, as does the knowledge that the population most affected by global poverty is women and girls. Women and girls are integral in overcoming poverty, for a family, a community or a nation.

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This International Women’s Day, Global Impact has launched the Women and Girls Fund which harnesses four of the most respected charities working to help women and girls, CARE, World Vision, Plan International, and the International Center for Research on Women.  These charities work to provide education, health care, protection from violence, protection from sexual exploitation, and job training to women and girls around the world.

We women need to stick together in this world, it is unacceptable that 1 in 9 girls will be forced into marriage before her 15th birthday, or that nearly 300,000 women will die from preventable childbirth related causes.  Girls in the developing world face overwhelming odds from the day they are born.  By educating girls we give them the chance to rise out of poverty, earn a living, and send their own children to school one day.  With proper health care and nutrition we can ensure that they grow to contribute fully to their communities.  Together we can help change the world by simply investing in women and girls. I think about the women I met along my travels who fed me and housed me despite their meager means, and that stranger from a strange land that I was to them, and I want to give back.  I still appreciate the camaraderie we shared so many years and miles away from my here and now, and it calls me to action.

Global Impact’s Women and Girls Fund has the goal of helping women and girls everywhere to live healthy lives, protected, educated, respected, and empowered to reach their full potential. Through this fund you can join millions of people working to help women and girls. All contributions go directly to supporting programs to improve the lives of women and girls around the world.  Please visit www.togetherforwomen.org to learn more about this great opportunity to make a difference.

This post is a part of a sponsored awareness program that seeks to help women and girls everywhere live healthy lives wherein they are protected, respected, educated and empowered to reach their potential. Visit www.togetherforwomen.org.

global teamI wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health. Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

 

Ensuring Every Baby Survives It’s #FirstDay ; Save The Children’s Report on Newborn Health

Ensuring Every Baby Survives It’s #FirstDay ; Save The Children’s Report on Newborn Health

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When my first baby was born and handed to me all cleaned, and swaddled I looked up to my Doctor to ask “can I kiss her?” He laughed and said, “yes, she’s yours, you get to take her home”. Suddenly I was responsible for a life! Just like that!

Each time as a mother giving birth I was on edge waiting to know that everything is going to be o.k. Even for baby number four, probably more so for baby number four, since I was of “advanced maternal age”, I was worried. That was here. In the USA, with modern medicine and an ambulance at the end of a  911 call. You might be surprised to learn that despite all that we still fall behind 68 other countries in newborn deaths the first day of life. Pretty shocking, isn’t it? In developing countries however the numbers are far worse. Too many mothers are not getting the pre-natal care they need, and often birthing alone in unsanitary conditions.

The first 24 hours of a babies life are the most critical, and while advances in preventing child mortality have cut that number in half according to a new report out today from Save The Children, Newborn health still continues to lag behind in progress. The report states that nearly half of all deaths of children under five are newborns. The greatest tragedy is that most of these deaths are preventable.

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In many rural communities there is a shortage of healthcare workers to aid in safe delivery. With community based healthcare workers in place, with the knowledge to resuscitate a newborn who is not breathing, and teach new mothers techniques such as breastfeeding and kangaroo care, newborn lives could be saved.

Save The Children is calling on both world leaders and private sector partners to join in what is being called the Five Point Newborn Promise in 2014 to save newborn lives. This plan calls to:

  • Issue a defining and accountable declaration to end all preventable newborn mortality, saving 2 million newborn lives a year and stopping the 1.2 million stillbirths during labor
  • Ensure that by 2025 every birth is attended by trained and equipped health workers who can deliver essential newborn health interventions
  • Increase expenditure on health to at least the WHO minimum of US$60 per person
  • To pay for the training, equipping and support of health workers, and remove user fees for all maternal, newborn and child health services, including emergency obstetric care
  • The private sector, including pharmaceutical companies, should help address unmet needs by developing innovative solutions and increasing availability for the poorest to new and existing products for maternal, newborn and child health.

The new report, “Ending Newborn Deaths,” shows one half of first day deaths around the world could be prevented if the mother and baby had access to free health care and a skilled midwife.

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The Save The Children “Ending Newborn Deaths” Report

Read the full report and find out more about how you can be a part of the change by visiting the Save The Children to get involved.

I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.

Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

global team