On Mother's Day: Let's Be United for Motherhood

The Huffington Post's Living section joins Mothers Day Every Day, a joint campaign of the White Ribbon Alliance and CARE, in a daily countdown to Mothers Day with special voices working to help save the lives of mothers and newborns around the world. Mothers Day Every Day is advocating for more progress and investments toward safe pregnancy and healthy babies because when women survive childbirth, they give birth to healthier families, communities and nations.

There are many ways in which the two of us are different. We are separated by our politics, gender and age to name the obvious. Yet we write this together, as two people that once held what's considered one of the hardest jobs in America - but we know that we had it easy compared to the women that raised us. Together, we are joining our voices for the most universal sameness: we have mothers.

As basic as it sounds -- moms shape each of us. They shape our leaders, but they are leaders themselves. Motherhood is universal, though unfortunately a healthy survival rate is not. Progress is being made to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of mothers and babies, yet still too many families, communities and nations are deprived of their mothers. Every minute, somewhere in the world, a woman dies in pregnancy or childbirth. In the poorest parts of Africa, such as in Sierra Leone where Dana visited this January, a woman's lifetime risk of dying in childbirth is one in seven. Most of these deaths are preventable with affordable measures.

Why do we care about moms halfway around the world? We care because as Americans, it is important and beneficial to help moms no matter where they live. When women survive childbirth, everyone's quality of life is raised. Evidence shows that women generally put their family's health before their own - Mike saw that first hand with mothers that received treatment because they took their malaria-infected kids to be tended to in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Women are also more likely than men to invest back in their families and communities, therefore improving the health systems and economies in their countries. Whether you're from Accra, Ghana or Akron, Ohio, we all benefit when we provide an environment where moms can raise their children to be productive, educated and willing to help their communities. That makes us all safer, more secure and more prosperous.

We must empower women and therefore their communities to see measurable improvements. Local villages around the world are working together to improve circumstances for would-be mothers, these efforts are often times led by women. In Peru, 53-year-old Eugenia is part of a new movement of women helping their fellow women with a little boost from advocacy organizations like the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood and CARE. Eugenia volunteers at a local health post where increased attention to language and cultural preferences and greater coordination with local government have contributed to a 50 percent reduction in maternal deaths in the region. We've also seen great success with micro-lending initiatives that focus on women working together and creating more stable societies. Eugenina is just one example among many women across the world that are taking leadership roles to improve their community's condition. We, as American men and women, can help these women help themselves through small, practical improvements: increased access to clean water, clean and affordable energy, clean water, education and technology.

There is much that divides us, but when moms survive, we all share in the benefits. Mother's Day is not a universal day, but as we prepare for this holiday in the US, we look forward to making Mothers Day Every Day as moms universally do impact the human condition. Together we raise our voices for greater US leadership to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth for all. Let's make healthy moms universal.

Mike McCurry and Dana Perino are members of the Mothers Day Every Day Advisory Committee.

Check out the rest of our Countdown to Mothers Day series: