I recently jumped up and down when I heard about the work done by EngenderHealth. EngenderHealth is a leading global womenâ€™s health organization that trains health care professionals and partners with governments in more than 20 countries to ensure that reproductive health and family planning services are available to all womenâ€”today and for generations to come. How is it that Iâ€™d never heard of this organization and the work theyâ€™re doing? Speaking to Dr. Yet Asfaw and Dr. Kelly Culwell (both of whom have leadership roles within the organization), the passion for their work and their enthusiasm to spread the word got me so excited to tell you about their new campaign, WTFP?? (Where's the Family Planning?!).
My interest in global maternal and reproductive health dates back to this past spring when I had a chance to hang out with some pretty awesome folks at the UN Foundation, thanks to being selected as a Social Good Fellow. We received so much knowledge, it was incredible. I recall specifically hearing about millennium development goal #5: improve maternal health and the collective disgust that rose up from all of us as we took in numbers and facts that we hadnâ€™t been exposed to before. I recall hearing sobering statistics:
- Half of Ethiopian women are married by the time they are 15 (I was desperately trying to fit in to my new school at that age. How about you?)
- There are 222 million women in developing countries who want access to contraception but do not have access
- One million newborns die the day they are born
I also remember hearing about fistulas. A fistula is a hole that develops between the birth canal and bladder/rectum. I remember hearing about how a lot of times this happens to girls whose bodies might not yet be ready for the work of childbirth. Yes, there is a surgical treatment for this. But in this case, the $200 that it would cost to fix this issue can be insurmountable. At times, the husbands say it is easier to replace that woman with a new one rather than fix the issue. Can you imagine? What I heard was enough to remind me of how lucky I was to be living where I am today. It reminded me of that classroom during J-term, â€œPsychology of Womenâ€, and all of the implications that came with women having access to birth control. Because it went far beyond delaying pregnancy.
Wait! Itâ€™s not what you think. EngenderHealthâ€™s new campaign, Whereâ€™s the Family Planning (WTFP) launches this Fall with the aim of engaging YOU in the movement to raise awareness of issues related to access to contraceptives and family planning in developing countries. What does that have to do with us? We all know what access to contraception did for the U.S. (in education, in the workplace, in society). Imagine what could happen if those 222 million women had a way to make the family planning decision for themselves. If we know that women with access to contraception are more likely to stay in school, have healthier kids and earn more than those who do not, why not help them get there?
What Can You Do?
Write that check for a million dollars. Oh, fresh out of checks? Easy peasy, lemon squeezy! Use your social collateral. Tell your friends about the program, join the conversation as the WTFP campaign launches. Sign up to participate in their Action Campaigns. Light the fire and get your smoke signals going. Any way you can spread the word, do so! I think as Mamis it is our responsibility to reach back and help others in this sisterhood lead better lives, be healthier, happier and ultimately have children that can do the same. Donâ€™t you?
How do you plan to get involved? Answer in the comments below for a chance to win a Social Good Goodies bag.
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