September 19, 2016

Solutions for Saving Mothers and Babies

Written by Crowd360 Coverage Team

Imagine a situation where people have been living exiled from their homes, for more than a generation. 

Imagine having no choice but to give birth by the side of a road, with broken glass and garbage all around.

Imagine a world where community solutions are imposed from the outside, with limited understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by the people who actually live there.

Adepeju Jaiyeoba, CEO of Mothers Delivery Kits, addressed a crowded but silent room at “Solutions for Saving Mothers and Babies,” a masterclass hosted by the UN Foundation, timed to the opening of the 71st United Nations General Assembly opening. The nearly four-hour long session examined the depth of the global refugee crisis, as well as the need to listen to young people on the ground, and explored ways in which all actors are stepping up to address the situation we are in. Most importantly, the session examined what we can all be doing to improve the lives of displaced people.

The world is facing an unfathomable refugee crisis. By the end of 2015, just a few months after the Sustainable Development Goals were adopted, more than 65 million people — half of them children — had been forcibly displaced due to conflict, persecution, violence, or human rights violations.

There’s more that needs to be done — particularly in regards to maternal and child health. “Women are giving birth in the desert in Syria, and in camps in Jordan and other neighboring countries,” said Caroline Maposhere member of the Board of Trustees for White Ribbon Alliance in Zimbabwe. “And when the mother is stressed, so is her unborn baby, leading to difficult birthing situations and tragic, but preventable outcomes.”

Most of all, it is critical to understand that once a family is displaced, their lives are irrevocably affected — but they still hold a vision for a safe, healthy future. Joy Marini, executive director of Global Community Impact at Johnson & Johnson, told the story of a woman who had given birth to two children in refugee camps. “She named her daughters ‘Hope’ and ‘Shelter’ because she said that’s what women and families need. Hope and Shelter.”

A major theme of the masterclass was the need for the international community to step up and empower people on the ground to have a voice and to take action. “Women know best the issues they are facing,” said Anita Sharma, executive director of the United Nations Foundation. “We as the international community think we have the answers, but that’s not always the case. We must get the services and resources into the hands of those best placed to do the work on the ground.”

“Against all odds, displaced people are still running businesses. Micro-investment in these communities works,” said Christine Mahoney, associate professor of Public Policy and Politics at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and director of Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Virginia. “Even when women are in situations where it’s difficult or illegal to work, women are finding ways to be enterprising, providing services such as hair braiding, to boost morale and care for each other.”

Just imagine it — a world where women are empowered with skills and the ability to create solutions for the challenges before them. This world is in our reach, if we all work together.