During both of my pregnancies I had frequent doctor visits and phone calls to the nurse line, but I never had a fear that my own life was in danger. However, every day 1,000 women and girls die in pregnancy or childbirth around the world. In honor of the 100th International Women’s Day, we profile an organization on a mission to lower that number.
The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood is a grassroots movement that builds alliances, strengthens capacity, influences policies, harnesses resources and inspires action to save the lives of women and newborns around the world.
The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRA) was created in 1999 by a dedicated group of international professionals. The founders of WRA recognized the need to inspire and ignite individuals, governments, and civil society around the world in order to effectively establish and implement international agreements and national policies. In its first year, the informal coalition of non-governmental organizations and donors agreed to use the white ribbon as a symbol to raise awareness, build alliances and act as a catalyst for action to save the lives of women and newborns. At the beginning, the founders agreed that there was a pressing need for a powerful and unifying symbol to focus the world’s attention on reducing maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity. A white ribbon was selected to represent and memorialize all of the women who die unnecessarily during pregnancy or childbirth. In some cultures, white symbolizes mourning and in others it symbolizes purity and life. WRA not only works to create and sustain life and hope for all women, but also mourns and honors those women who did not survive pregnancy or childbirth.
The White Ribbon Alliance was launched in August 1999 with an initial 35 participants and in 2011 has grown to include thousands of individual and organizational members in 152 countries.
Pregnancy and childbirth are among the leading causes of death and disability for girls and women in developing countries. Low-cost, low-tech interventions provided by skilled birth attendants, combined with family planning and general health system strengthening, can save most women and newborns. Eighty percent of maternal deaths could be prevented by cost-effective, timely health care before, during and after childbirth. You can read stories and watch videos about women who have been saved by WRA initiatives here.
Recently, the United Nations Secretary-General launched the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health with US $40 billion in commitments to maternal, newborn and child health called Every Woman Every Child.
You can help too!
- Join the global movement by becoming an individual or organizational member of WRA. Membership is free!
- Wear a white ribbon! You can be a daily advocate for safe motherhood and maternal health by simply wearing the white ribbon. You can purchase 50 white ribbon pins on WRA’s website and use them to raise awareness and funds.
- Spread the word about the WRA and the need to make pregnancy and childbirth safe and healthy for all women around the world. Share this post to help spread the word!
- Participate in WRA’s Action of the Month…learn more here.
- Donate to WRA on their website.
- Find more ideas of how to help on WRA’s Take Action page for ideas on spreading the word, hosting events, honoring health workers, reaching out the media, connecting with other WRA members and organizations, organizing activities, involving the arts and sharing your stories.
In addition, you can learn about the White Ribbon Alliance’s International Women’s Day Activities here.