Saturday, May 16, 2015

4 Powerful Ideas, by 4 Powerful Women- for Birth Power Week

Because Birth Power Week is taking place starting May 15, 2016, I was looking for ways to inspire action on a favorite theme of mine: honoring and supporting woman who are making a difference in the world. I was scanning through the Clinton Foundation’s website and I was delighted to find an article highlighting “…inspiring woman who are working around the world to make a difference,” so I was inspired to share about some of the women I have met who are using powerful and exciting ideas to transform society.

I hope this will inspire you to share your own this week!

1. Eramithe Delva, A whistle.
After the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, many people were displaced from their homes and came to live in camps. These camps were overrun with people and violence was rampant because the police would not enter the camps. Woman were being raped and assaulted daily and no police or governmental official would help.

But Eramithe had an idea- she gave every woman a whistle! She told each woman to blow the whistle if she were attacked or in danger, and the community would show up.

It worked! The community responded and the numbers rape cases went from 40 per month to just 3.

This feat raised the attention of the media, and as a result it gained international attention  which forced the local government to become involved in making the camps safer for all.

The idea: How can we “show up” for others when they blow a whistle in our own communities and the world? What would happen if we did?

2. Julie Gerland, Maternal Empowerment.
Inspired by the book, “Education Begins Before Birth” by Omraam Mikhaël, Julie came across an idea that drives her life: within each pregnant mother lies the key to peace, health and ultimately the sustainability of the planet.

She found that years of science shows us that the ability to love and trust as well as emotional and physical health are influenced by what happens to mothers during this critical time. A connected, loved, attached human being will have the ability to form caring connections with others and with the world.

Julie feels that this “maternal empowerment” is the key.

She shares that there are many simple ways a mother can be a creative force in the formation of her baby’s optimal development these include emotions, imagination and nutrition. Knowing this can empower woman, and costs little to implement.

The idea drives her to travel all over the world speaking, teaching and urging governments, health ministers, and individuals to integrate these ideas into every level of policy making. Her work has also led her to become a representative with the World Organization of Prenatal Education Associations, a United Nations NGO, to spread this idea across the world.  Her project the Global Prenatal Initiative strives to bring awareness about the key role that mothers play during pregnancy and birth, for the future of humanity.

The idea: Imagine a world where everyone knew the role of the mother in creating peace, health, and emotional well being of human beings?

3. Dawn Thompson, the Rally for Change.
Angry at seeing the constant misinformation pregnant mothers received from maternity care providers, and outraged by the fact that a local hospital had an 80% section rate on Thursday and Fridays, Dawn knew that she needed to act. As a Doula she knew that women assumed that the routine care they were receiving was based on the best evidence and solid science, but the shocking truth was that most of these interventions were unneeded and unnecessary and actually harmful to healthy birthing woman.

She put out a call to local mothers and birth workers and formed a rally at a local hospital to demand evidenced based care. She was very clear in purpose, “We are not fighting or protesting, we are here to rally for a change!”

After the rally, in which many local mothers and community showed up, Dawn knew that something important had happened.  She knew that there were people all over the country who were feeling the same way. The idea for the first “Rally For Change” was born.

She was inspired to put out a call across the nation and gather people to stand together all at once in front of the worst offending hospitals to force them examine their practices and update archaic, non evidenced based medical practices.

The first nationwide rally in 2012 was a huge success, and since that year the rally has become a global movement.

From her living room, and using her garage she created Improving Birth a non profit organization who’s purpose is to promote evidence based maternity care, informed decision making, and respectful care of pregnant and birthing mothers.

The idea: What if, like Dawn, we all had the courage to do something instead of just complaining. What if we all used our anger or outrage as “activation energy” to fuel a solution.

4. Sherry Payne, Hands, Voice and Feet

Working within her community to solve the problems of access to prenatal care, premature births, infant mortality and low breastfeeding rates Sherry created Uzazi Village to focus on the issues of health disparities in the African-American community. 
Sherry Payne at the Birth Activist Retreat, Utah

Feeling that not enough is being done to solve the issue of black infant mortality (black babies are dying more often within the first year of life) last September Sherry decided to walk 12 days and over 200 miles to raise awareness about this issue. Her support truck broke down and she had to cancel the walk but I feel a deep respect for her because of her courage made her do something. She did raise internet and media attention which highlighted the problem and created many discussions about this problem.

As my friend Loretta, a marathon runner who was told that she would be in a wheelchair by the age of 18 because of rheumatoid arthritis, often says to me, “If you try to jump and reach the ceiling, and you keep missing by inches… at least you jumped! Sherry Payne is not only jumping daily from within her community to protect and serve mothers and babies, but she used the resources she had available to create more public awareness and shine a light onto this problem
facing women of color. The idea: What if we all followed our inner calling to right what is wrong in our communities? Even if we failed, we would be that much closer to a better world.

5. Leymah Gbowee, Women-United.
This courageous Noble Peace Prize Laureate is mother who organized “Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace.” Led by Leymah, these women forced an end to the a 14 year civil war and demanded a democratic election. They finally ousted the warlords who were tearing the country apart. What is more, they chieved the election of the first female head of state in Africa!
Julie Gerland, far left, Leymah Gbowee, far right.

The movement started by singing and praying together for peace, then they went on to stage non violent protests to demand a peace treaty between the corrupt warring factions. These woman went as far as to have a sex strike across their nation to force all of the men to take serious action to help end the war.

Two years since the day
she decided that enough was enough Leymah, along with the relentless action from these women-united, forced this change.

The idea: Woman-United. There is nothing in this world that we have to endure. We have the power when we unite in purpose to change anything! 

Please join us in celebrating Birth Power Week by shining a light on the woman who inspire you by blogging, or simply giving them a shout out! #BirthPowerWeek

You can take a look at some ways that you can participate that week on the internet and on the ground to raise awareness about the importance of protecting, and enhancing optimal beginnings for all human beings being born.

In love and service,
Barbara Rivera

You can follow me here
twitter: Birthinpower

and Facebook: BirthPower.