Category Archives: Women’s Issues

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.

 

A Call For #Water4all On #WorldWaterDay 2014

A Call For #Water4all On #WorldWaterDay 2014
Image provided by WaterAid

Image provided by WaterAid

The irony was not lost on me. I knew as I sipped the cool glass of water that this was not a luxury shared by most back at home.   Here I sat in a café in New York City meeting with Water Aid representatives, discussing clean water, and sanitation in developing countries. Meanwhile, there was a water ban going on in my own hometown. Deadly E. Coli bacteria had been detected in the public water source. Stores had already run out of bottled water, families had to boil their water for use, and the town was in crisis.  As a mom I felt guilty enough being away from home for a conference for several days, and now this!   There is nothing like an interruption to what you take for granted  to make you appreciate it more.

Everybody has a #WaterStory, and as a traveler I have many.  Water is an issue I have had to think about often on visits to developing countries. When you scoop your drinking water out of a river to drink, with floaties swirling around, despite the iodine tablet you put in to make it potable, it makes you think.  When visiting villages in Borneo I too used the village river to bathe in, to wash my clothes, and to drink from. In the Sahara I felt what is was to be parched by the lack of water, and in the Congo I carried 20 lb. Jerry cans to and from the local spring to gather fresh water for use. Sure I got sick a few times along the way, but I always had the proper medication I needed with me when I did.  According to the UN around 90% of sewage in the developing world is discharged untreated into rivers, some of those same rivers I bathed in and drank from I’m sure.

Doing laundry in the river  Photo taken by the author

Doing laundry in the river
Photo taken by the author

The fact is that according to #WaterAid 768 million people in the world today do not have access to safe drinking water.  That is roughly 1 in 10 people in the world who do not have access to clean water with which to cook, wash or to drink. Water is something that runs abundant where I live, that is so taken for granted,  yet is worth more than gold to those who don’t have it. Water is Life after all.

Access to clean water and sanitation is a key element to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty.  Women and girls are most effected by lack of access to water and sanitation.  In many areas girls miss out on school because they spend much of their day walking miles to access clean water for their families. Those girls who do make it to school often drop out once menstruation begins if there are no private toilet facilities available. UNICEF reports that 6,000 children die of water related diseases every day.  The most susceptible being children under the age of five. 

Here are some water facts shared by WaterAid to think about:

  • 97.5% of the earth’s water is saltwater. If the world’s water fitted into a bucket, only one teaspoonful would be drinkable.
  •   For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, $4 is returned. (WHO)
  • While the world’s population tripled in the 20th century, the use of renewable water resources has grown six-fold. (World Water Council)
  •  The average North American uses 400 liters of water every day for their drinking, washing and cooking. The average person in the developing world uses only 10 liters every day.  (WSSCC))
My #CheerstoH2O Selfie

My #CheerstoH2O Selfie

Saturday March 22nd is World Water Day! Let’s come together to take action. You can use your voice to tell congress to support the Paul Simon Water for the World Act. Or upload photos of you drinking water with the hashtag #CheerstoH20 , do you like mine? You can also use Facebook or twitter to share the message of #Water4all or share your #waterstory.

Water Aid works side-by side with local communities to ignite monumental change by giving them the tools that they need to break down barriers and make water and toilets an accessible reality for everyone in their community. WaterAid has helped 19.2 million people reach safe water since 1981. Learn more about how we make it happen! - www.wateraid.org

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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.

 

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.

 

How $5 Saved Two Lives

How $5 Saved Two Lives

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Here is another story of how the efforts of one person can save lives. I am honored to be part of World Moms Blog where I write and edit with other moms from all around the world. I am continually inspired by them, and as I edit our weekly Social Good or World Voice piece that goes up each Tuesday, I often find myself wiping the tears away during an emotional or beautifully written piece. Kristyn Zalota is one of those writers and the founder of the non-profit CleanBirth.org . CleanBirth.org works to prevent the needless deaths of mothers and babies in Laos, where maternal and infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world.  I am in awe of her, what she has built, and accomplished in less than two years with CleanBirth.org.

Already with a local Lao partner Our Village Association, CleanBirth.org has provided 2,000 AYZH Clean Birth Kits, served 150 villages, trained 15 nurses and 20 Village Volunteers.  The nurses trained about Clean Birth Kits and safe birthing practices, have begun passing their knowledge to women from each remote village.

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This week from February 4-7th, World Moms Blog, Multicultural Kids Blog, and Girls Globe are coming together to support World Moms Blog contributor, Kristyn Zalota’s, organization, CleanBirth.org by kicking off a crowd funding campaign to raise $7,500! These funds will help maximize a visit from Yale Midwifery students scheduled for July 2014 during which 30 nurses will be trained in the World Health Organization’s Essentials of Newborn Care. The Essentials are: clean birth, newborn resuscitation, skin to skin newborn care, basic newborn care and breastfeeding.   This information will then be incorporated into the Village Volunteers training. By providing access to the midwives from Yale, our Lao partners, the local nurses, and Village Volunteers will have more tools to improve care for mothers and infants.  This promotes the CleanBirth.org mission to make birth safer by empowering those on the ground with the training and resources they need.

For just $5 CleanBirth.org provides a mother with all the hygienic birthing supplies she needs to make birth safe. That can save both the life of a mother and a baby.  Funds also go towards training nurses and Village Volunteers to teach mothers in remote areas about safe birthing practices.   You can help by joining the Twitter Party on the 6th, and then the crowd funding campaign,  where for as little as $5 you can help save two lives, and make sure that women like Yai have safe births for both mother and child.

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