I had the great fortune to be the guest of Sarah Brown at Downing Street on Friday night for a Christmas party in aid of the Million Mums campaign by the White Ribbon Alliance of which she is the Global Patron.
Among the attendees were patrons of various other charities, campaigners, political bloggers, people connected with Million Mums, celebrities and a clutch of obsessive twitterers (my category).
Every minute of every day, a woman dies of pregnancy related complications, which makes more than half a million women each year.
The White Ribbon Alliance is an international coalition bound together by a common goal: to ensure that pregnancy and childbirth are safe for all women and newborns in every country around the world.
How many times have we written cards to our mothers with the inscription “you’re one in a million, mum.” Consider that, and then reflect for a moment on the loss, every minute of every day, of a mother somewhere in the world.
The idea that so many women die in pregnancy or childbirth TODAY defies comprehension. It is the sort of statistic that you would expect to find in a history book about mediaeval times. Million Mums and White Ribbon Alliance are working hard to assign these levels of unthinkable mortality to history.
The situation is at its worst in the developing world, which accounts for nearly all pregnancy-related deaths, and there the White Ribbon Alliance works to hold governments and institutions to account for the tragedy of maternal mortality.
The Downing Street reception was an affirmation of the vitally important work that the White Ribbon Alliance does every day to improve conditions and reduce risk.
Against such overwhelming statistics it’s easy to think that little can be done by individuals, but the reality is these days that it is the knitting together of small individual actions that makes arguably the biggest difference to movements for change. Think for example of the impact that we will all have to make on climate change by flicking switches, choosing to walk instead of drive, choosing to insulate...
Social networking is now an incredibly potent force in disseminating information about causes, issues, concerns, joys and opportunities. Think back on the year we’ve just had and think about how the sharing and shaping of news and opinion has been influenced by social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. News has broken via Twitter, ahead of the largest media organisations in the world. Twitter, especially, with its “without walls” ability to converse with many, has taken issues from obscurity to prominence, sometimes in minutes, and has shone a torch on many of the darker aspects of our world that we might well have been ignorant of.
There isn’t an excuse any more for compassion fatigue or for thinking that there’s nothing we can do. Sharing information can be enough. If you’re unable to help materially but you’re able to pass a message on, then you’re capable of affecting the success of this important global campaign.
Sign up for Million Mums http://millionmums.org/and learn more about its work and about the actions that you can help take to make the world a safer place for mothers today and in the future.