EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Release of 2015 State of the World’s Mothers Report by @SaveTheChildren #sowm #worldmoms #MomsMatter

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Release of 2015 State of the World’s Mothers Report by @SaveTheChildren #sowm #worldmoms #MomsMatter

Photo credit to Save the Children.

Family living in Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya.

Last week, World Moms Blog conducted an exclusive interview with Save the Children’s President and CEO, Carolyn Miles and Vice President of Global Health, Robert Clay at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Our conversation was around the State of the World’s Mothers Report for 2015, released today! Carolyn had recently returned from Haiti, and was enthusiastic to speak about this year’s findings…

Jennifer Burden: The State of the World’s Mothers Report now covers 179 countries, how many years has it existed?

Carolyn Miles: This is the 16th report, and I have been with Save the Children for 17 years. It came about as a connection between the well-being of mothers and children around the world. The report measures the well-being based on 5 indicators: economic, education, maternal health, child survival and the representation of women in government.

JB: The theme of the report in 2015 seems to focus on urban areas. Save the Children is pulling apart statistical averages in cities. Why?

CM: It is driven by getting to the hardest to reach children. Seventeen thousand children die per day. That has halved from 33,000 since 1990. We are answering the question of, “Where are the hardest to reach children?” And the cities are where the world’s population is going. In 2007 there were 51% of people on the planet living in cities. Today that number is 54%, and the city population is rapidly increasing. Cities are where the children, mothers and parents are living.

Families move to the cities looking for a better life, but in the poorest areas, the urban slums, children there are 2 times as likely to die than the richest kids in the same city.

If you look at the averages, the averages in cities are generally better than in rural areas. But, if you break it down, the poorest kids in cities are 2 times as likely to die as the richest kids in cities. And, those kids are also more likely to die than children in the rural areas.

JB: The urban data — when we think of child survival rates and socioeconomic disparities, most may think of cities such as Kampala, Delhi or Rio, but the report hits home, here, in the U.S. Can you tell us about Washington, D.C.?

CM: Yes, we looked at 25 capital cities in high income countries and the infant mortalities, including the deaths of infants under the age of one. Washington, D.C. was at the bottom. When we compared the wealthiest district and the one with the most poverty, children in the district with the most poverty were 10 times more likely to die than children from the wealthiest district.

Inequality is an important issue in the United States.

Urbanization in 2030 is expected to account for 65% of the population and to further increase in 2050.

Also, a key point is that the data is weak. We are looking at the DHS infant mortality rates, and the world needs to do a better job in accounting for this data.

JB: What was the biggest surprise this year?

CM: It was no surprise that the Scandanavians are always at the top. If we really want mothers and children to have a better life, we should support them.

To give a really specific answer, inequality is killing kids.

I just returned from Haiti 2 days ago. Haiti is in the bottom 10 and hasn’t been there in a long time. Number 1, the country has a very low education rate. Fifty percent of children do not get through primary school. Number 2, the decreased strength in the government slowed progress. I met with a bunch of moms and babies who are getting very basic healthcare, but more has to be done.

(Haiti is tied at number 169 with Sierra Leone in the 2015 Mothers Index Rankings and was just shy of the bottom 10 at number 168 last year in the 2014 Mothers Index Rankings.)

JB: What was the biggest success story?

CM: Panama made a lot of progress this year and has moved up in the rankings. This was driven by education and improvements in the representation of women in their government.

(Panama moved up to number 78 in the 2015 Mothers Index Rankings. That is a jump of 31 spots, from a ranking of number 109 in the 2014 Mothers Index Rankings.)

JB: As I read in the report, Carolyn, you have an interesting “World Mom Moment” that led you to leave the corporate world and work for Save the Children. (According to the State of the World’s Mothers Report 2015, Carolyn was in Manila holding her 6 month old son 20 years ago, and she felt that it wasn’t right that children she saw in poverty would have a very different chance at life than her son. It was that experience that led her to leave the corporate world and join Save the Children.) So, on World Moms Blog, we always ask, “What is your wish for world mothers?”

CM: Yes, I did, in Manila while holding my son when he was a baby! My wish is mostly that every mother has the basics: basic healthcare, that their children can go to school, and in conflict countries that moms and children are protected.

JB: What is the one action you would like us to take and encourage our World Moms Blog community to take to help mothers and children worldwide?

CM: Just one? (laughter) Please go to the Save the Children Web Site!

1) Donate to the programs — there are many choices!

2) Save the Children has a policy ask. To press the US government, a world leader in child and maternal health, to pass the Coons, Graham and Cardin Bill to support global maternal and child health programs. We must keep pushing.

3) In the new UN Goals there is a big focus in inequality. We think that is REALLY important that we ask that these goals are supported in order to reach the most deprived kid. These are the goals that every country will sign off on.

Photo credit to Save the Children.

Photo credit to Save the Children.

JB: Next, we have fielded some questions from our World Moms Blog contributors. First, Cindy Levin, the Anti-Poverty Mom in Missouri, USA asks, “What is the biggest area of opportunity to save kids lives this year…vaccines? nutrition?”

CM: It is hard to pick one. This year it’s important to get the new goals right, and we’re pushing for children to be central to them. In 1980 that is how things were done — one goal would be focused on. But when you only have a vertical lens, you’re not taking advantage of the integration of services.

Now, the focus is on smart integration to meet the demands of the children.

For example, in Nepal, the focus is on nutrition, as well as, water and sanitation. If a child is getting proper nutrition, but is drinking dirty water, then they are going to get sick and the nutrition alone won’t help. They have to work together.

JB: Next, our contributor, Kristyn Zalota of Cleanbirth.org in Connecticut, USA asks, “The largest obstacle moms in Southern Laos have to reaching a clinic is distance and lack of transportation. How common an obstacle is this for women worldwide?”

CM: Very common. Transport is a big barrier for women worldwide. Some of the solutions we are using are to construct mother homes next to clinics to decrease the distance, and her family can join her, like a birthing hut system. Another way to get the pregnant mother to the clinic is by ambulance. We line up the ambulances ahead of time in anticipation of the birth. For example, in Uganda, bicycle ambulances are used, and they have a sled in the back for the mother.

JB: Lastly, Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama of Mummy Tales in Kenya asks, “In societies that are very patriarchal and in communities that still uphold retrogressive cultures (this is so in many African cultures), where a woman’s reproductive health decisions are dictated by men (fathers, husbands, brothers, etc.), how is Save the Children working with men in this regard? Any examples?”

CM: This is a really important question. I’ll give you an example in Uganda, where there are lots of family planning clinics available that are supported by the government. But yet, we found that not all mothers were using them because they had not gotten permission from their husbands. So, sometimes access is not the problem.

Save the Children is encouraging and having “family discussions”, a way of bringing men into the discussions. We give them stats, economics, etc. that leads to the the better health of children and family spacing.

Robert Clay: Save the Children also works with adolescents on this topic. We are bringing boys and girls into the discussions before they are having children, and we talk to them about their roles and responsibilities.

Another example of how I have seen this work is through my prior work with USAID. We had soccer games for the boys with an additional afternoon discussion around sexuality. At the beginning, most of the boys only wanted to play soccer and made it clear that was what they preferred to do. Many were hearing for the first time factual information about sex, their roles as men and how to establish responsibility early on. Then, as they attended more discussions, the boys spoke of their preference to spend more time in the discussions than playing soccer!

Additionally, there is a women in government piece to this question. Societies with more women in decision making roles pass policies that are friendly to women and children. And when it comes to economics, when women have money they invest in their children.

Thank you to both Caroline Miles and Robert Clay for this exclusive interview. After the interview, there was a press conference at UN Headquarters including information on the 2015 State of the World Mothers Report. Look out for a follow up post on WorldMomsBlog.com about the press conference.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by founder, Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA. 

Updated May 5th, 2015. Carolyn had her “World Mom Moment” in Manila, not Hong Kong, as previously stated. 

 

Jennifer Burden, Founder of World Moms Blog with Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children at the United Nations, April 30, 2015.

Jennifer Burden, Founder of World Moms Blog with Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children at the United Nations, April 30, 2015.

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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INDIA: Lukewarm For FIFA World Cup Compared to Cricket

INDIA: Lukewarm For FIFA World Cup Compared to Cricket

Every four years, a large part of the world’s attention descends on one nation – for World Cup Football. Tomorrow, the FIFA World Cup actually starts, and as you all know, the first match is in Sao Paulo, where Brazil takes on Croatia. I was on the phone with fellow World Moms Blog editor, Jennifer Burden, and she asked me if India is excited for the World Cup.

My own family has World Cup fever, inspired by my recent trip to Brazil to report on world poverty and environmental issues, but when I think of the whole of India excited about something sport-related, it is really only cricket that comes to mind!

People in India will watch the World Cup games, but it won’t compare to our country’s level of excitement over cricket.

When it comes to sports, India is a cricket-crazy nation.

INDIA.IS.A.COMPLETE.CRICKET-CRAZY.NATION!

Men, women and kids all watch and/or play and/or have favorites and/or conduct mass prayers and/or do just crazy things for the sake of cricket. There is really no end to it!

Sachin Tendulkar, a cricket player, is like a God to everyone in India. And there is absolutely no limits to what people would do for cricket. It is not just a game. Cricket has a very special life and a very special relationship with this country. It cannot even be explained, however, living in India during the cricket season would say it all.

Let me entertain you with a few crazy things that go on in India around cricket…

People color themselves with the tricolor Indian flag. The tricolor theme is not just clothes and caps, but you can find it also in the school premises, in apartments (flats) — theentire nation in is the colors of the Indian flag for the cricket. The celebrations are as intense, if not more, (ok, I have to be honest- it is the most celebrated event) than even Diwali or the Independence Day.

Check out this picture of a school in Western India where the school children are rooting for the Indian cricket team.

School children in a school in Ahmedabad dress up themselves and decorate their school building premises in the tricolor Indian flag to cheer for the Indian Cricket Team.

And then people just form throngs everywhere during the actual time the game is telecast. Office-goers, housewives, school-children, get together wherever there is a TV and watch. Homeless people watch cricket on the TV sitting on the streets across an electronics shop (or TV shop). No, they aren’t driven away. Because it is cricket season.

Shopkeepers let the customers watch the match from the shop indefinitely

Shopkeepers let the customers watch the match from the shop indefinitely

There are common TV viewing holes in villages like the local tea-stalls, community centers, even movie theaters at times, a common TV in the square of the slum. Oh, there is no end to this kind of thing. These pictures to do the job of explaining the craziness cricket causes for the people of India and the rest of sub-continent countries (Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh).

A tea stall hosting the TV viewing of the cricket match to a gathered crowd of the villagers

A tea stall hosting the TV viewing of the cricket match to a gathered crowd of the villagers

The slum dwellers watching the cricket match from a local TV-hole in the slums.

The slum dwellers watching the cricket match from a local TV-hole in the slums.

This is a mall in Kolkatta where the finals of the match between India and Sri Lanka is viewed.

This is a mall in Kolkatta where the finals of the match between India and Sri Lanka is viewed.

This is a movies theater in Karachi, Pakistan where cricket is telecast during the cricket season.

This is a movies theater in Karachi, Pakistan where cricket is telecast during the cricket season.

So, now coming back to the FIFA World Cup to be held in Brazil, all that I would say is that, the temperature is slightly lukewarm in comparison to the fever of the cricket playing nation.

Yes, we do talk a lot about it. But I guess that is about it. And, perhaps, some real football fans would watch it because they are really that – football fans.

By the way, did you catch Brazilian World Mom, Eco Ziva’s, post on the World Cup this week?

 So what happens in your country? Is it a football-crazy country too? Or does your country live for some other sport?

Photo credit to the author, The Daily Mail and The Atlantic.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog written by Purnima Ramakrishnan, our Senior Editor from India. 

Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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$5 Saves Lives with Cleanbirth.org, Multicultural Kids Blogs & Girls Globe!

$5 Saves Lives with Cleanbirth.org, Multicultural Kids Blogs & Girls Globe!

Over a year ago, World Mom, Nicole Melancon of Thirdeyemom, introduced me to Kristyn Zalota, an American mom who was dedicating her time to help save the lives of mothers in Laos.  I’m embarassed to admit, I wasn’t exactly sure where Laos was.  (It’s next to Vietnam.) I also didn’t know that the country has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality on the globe.

#CleanBirth Twitter Party!

Kristyn has introduced our staff and community to both, the mothers who she has met in Laos and the nurse midwives who she has trained through the organization she founded, Cleanbirth.org. Last year, World Moms Blog helped her raise over $700 to provide clean birth kits to the moms who needed them most.  It was such a fun, fantastic global moment for our contributors. We changed our Facebook profile pictures to the Cleanbirth logo, and we Facebooked and tweeted our hearts out! But that’s not all…

Since that time, World Moms Blog was the conduit that brought Kristyn Zalota and Dee Harlow, our contributor in Laos, together.  Dee started volunteering for Cleanbirth.org and helped the organization secure a $2000 loan, and she also wrote about maternal health in Laos during our #Moms4MDGs campaign on the Every Mother Counts website. In fact, here is a photo of Dee and Kristyn in Laos advocating for maternal health with the US Ambassador to Vientiane!

US Embassy Vientiane & Cleanbirth.org

This year we are back and excited as ever, to lend Cleanbirth.org our hearts and our social media voices to help kick off their 1st month of fundraising in 2014!  But, we also have fantastic news — we are not alone!

Two equally awesome organizations — Multicultural Kid Blogs and Girls Globe — will be joining us!  Together, our three sites will be synergizing our social media power together and rallying our communities and readers to help Cleanbirth.org in their campaign to raise $7500 this February, which is earmarked for the much-needed training of 10 nurses, 25 volunteers and 500 birth kits.

Inspired by World Mom, Kristyn Zalota’s, enthusiasm to do more than her fair share to help our fellow moms on the planet,  World Moms Blog is happy to join Multicultural Kid Blogs, Girls Globe and all of our combined contributors participating in making some noise for safe births for the mothers in Laos.

How can you join in?  Share this post.  Donate.  Join the Twitter Party on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 1pm EST! Hashtag is #Cleanbirth.  

Just $5 USD goes a long way — it buys a birth kit which includes sanitized necessities and the cost of travel for the nurse midwife to attend a birth. Kristyn has launched something amazing that saves lives and empowers women.

  • For just $5 you can provide a life saving Clean Birth Kit
  • For $100 you can train a Village Volunteer who serves her village
  • For $250 you can sponsor a nurse who serves as many as 10 villages

See more at: http://startsomegood.com/cleanbirth#sthash.gp7YuaeW.dpuf

If everyone who reads this post just donated $5, we could make a very large difference in the life of our fellow World Moms in Laos.  For almost the equivalent of a cup of fancy coffee, we can have a feel good, mother earth kind of day together.

Cleanbirth Donation Button

 

I hope you will join us and help us spread the word!

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Founder, Jennifer Burden in New Jersey, USA. 

Photo credits to Cleanbirth.org and Dee Harlow.

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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