By: Janna Oberdorf, Director of Advocacy and Communications for Women Deliver and Deborah Van Dyke, Executive Director, Global Health Media Project
While International Women's Day is a day for us to remember the many achievements and advancements for women around the world, it is also a day to remember how far we still need to go, particularly when it comes to improving health care services provided to mothers and their babies.
Although global maternal deaths have dropped by nearly 50 percent since 1990, 287,000 mothers-to-be still die every year -- that is 800 women every day. More than 200 million women want, but do not have, access to the tools and resources they need to plan their families. Countless girls are held home from school; violence against women is all-too-common; and girls and women continue to face barriers at nearly every rung of the economic, social and political ladders.
As a global advocacy organization, Women Deliver is working hard to change these statistics and improve maternal and reproductive health access and rights around the world. At the 3rd Women Deliver global conference on May 28-30 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Women Deliver will shine a spotlight on global solutions and innovations that are making a difference in the lives of girls and women. The conference, Women Deliver 2013, will call attention to efforts being made for girls and women in every aspect of their lives, including access to family planning, education, gender equality, violence and overall empowerment.
Women Deliver 2013 will also feature a Social Enterprise Challenge to highlight how social enterprises can play a key role in improving the lives of girls and women. Global Health Media Project, a social enterprise that provides critical health care information that can help save the lives of women in low-resource settings, is one of the 10 finalists who will be competing in this Challenge.
As Global Health Media Project shows, there are huge opportunities to leverage the Internet to improve maternal and newborn care around the world. Their visual teaching tools -- voiced over in any language -- are a powerful way to provide information that is so desperately needed to improve maternal and newborn care in communities.
Global Health Media Project creates online videos that help health workers learn more effectively by seeing basic practices demonstrated in low-resource settings similar to their own. The organization is helping to prevent many maternal and newborn deaths by giving health workers the basic knowledge, skills and practices they need through high-quality clinical videos. These videos focus on birth and the vulnerable days after birth, and how to integrate care for mothers and newborns. The videos are conveniently designed for mobile devices, and can be freely distributed and downloaded for use without an Internet connection.
Global Health Media Project is working on a new video series for health workers that demonstrates best practice care during a normal delivery, providing its viewers with a humanistic approach that they can see, learn and adopt. Additionally, Global Health Media Project is developing a series of newborn care videos -- broad in scope and coverage -- that spans most basic skills and practices needed to care for newborns. Ten of these videos are complete, and another ten are expected to be finished soon.
In order to make real and lasting progress on maternal health, we must work together to shine a spotlight on the global solutions and innovations -- like Global Health Media Project and the other Social Enterprise Challenge contestants -- that are having a great and lasting impact. We cannot stop fighting. We cannot stop innovating. We cannot stop working until every girl and woman, no matter where she lives, has access to the maternal health care she needs and, ultimately, the opportunity to achieve her dreams.
About the Social Enterprise Challenge and Women Deliver 2013
The Social Enterprise Challenge at Women Deliver 2013 will feature 10 Social Enterprises benefiting girls and women around the world. The enterprises will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges at Women Deliver 2013. The winner will receive the 2013 "Global Solution Award," and all 10 contestants will be given full conference scholarships and fast-track access to TrustLaw Connect.
Women Deliver 2013 conference, Women Deliver's third global conference, will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (May 28-30, 2013). The gathering will bring together more than 5,000 global leaders to ensure that girls and women remain priorities in the lead-up to the 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target date and in the post-2015 development framework. Register for the conference at wd2013.org.
Deborah Van Dyke is a long-time aid worker with MSF/Doctors Without Borders. She is the founder and director of the Global Health Media Project.
Janna Oberdorf is the Director of Advocacy and Communications at Women Deliver.