A Mother's Day Boycott: Raising Awareness for the Women of the World

With Mother’s Day coming up next week, you may be starting to imagine how you’ll spend the day with your loved ones.

Maybe you’ve already selected a special card or gift for the mothers and grandmothers in your life.

Perhaps you’ve made a reservation for lunch at a nice restaurant, or you’ve imagined that yummy breakfast in bed or time at the spa.

Whatever you’re doing, I’m sure you’re planning to make it a special celebration of motherhood.

Three years ago I spent Mother’s Day in the hospital after having given birth to my daughter the day before. In those hectic third-trimester days I hadn’t really thought about Mother’s Day and when it arrived it had completely slipped my mind. I was focused on other things: bonding with my newborn, contemplating the exact shade of blue of her eyes and memorizing her smells and sounds and the way the hair swirled at the base of her neck.

When a stranger arrived in my hospital room with a gift basket of flowers, lotions, and snacks, though, I suddenly realized what day it was- I had no choice. She was a volunteer from an organization and was passing the baskets out to all of the new mothers in the hospital that day.

I remember being so touched. I felt like my journey into motherhood had been acknowledged. Celebrated.

Unfortunately, millions of women around the world each year do not have the opportunity to celebrate motherhood. They don’t receive floral bouquets or breakfasts in bed. To them, childbirth was a roll of the dice.

They lost.

This Mother’s Day, Every Mother Counts is encouraging you to consider the 360,000 women who die each year from preventable pregnancy or childbirth-related problems. Led by founder Christy Turlington Burns, the No Mother’s Day campaign is raising awareness about global maternal mortality.

No Mother’s Day asks women to do the unfathomable: boycott the holiday to honor the women who don’t get the chance to ever celebrate. That means no gifts of any kind- from jewelry to backyard bouquets. They’re even asking mothers to refuse to answer the phone or acknowledge Mother’s Day in any way. In essence, to have it disappear.

It may sound extreme, but the statistics are grim. Women are dying for many reasons- infections, severe bleeding, and eclampsia among them- but there is another cause that underlies many of these tragic and unnecessary deaths: a lack of access to medical and prenatal care.

Please watch the following video and share it with your friends to help raise awareness this Mother’s Day.

For more information on maternal mortality statistics, please click through the following photos. As you look at the faces of each of these women, please remember that many others did not have such happy outcomes. All women deserve a safe childbirth experience for their babies. As we approach this Mother’s Day, let us remember those for whom childbirth has the same chance of being life-threatening as it does life-changing.

  • Maternal Mortality 1 of 8
    Maternal Mortality
    Every day, 1,000 women die from problems related to pregnancy and childbirth.
    Source: World Health Organization
    Photo Credit: Cia de Foto/Flickr
  • A Global Problem 2 of 8
    A Global Problem
    99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.
    Source: World Health Organization
    Photo Credit: Diganta Talukdar/Flickr
  • Care Surrounding Birth 3 of 8
    Care Surrounding Birth
    Skilled care before, during and after childbirth can save the lives of women and newborn babies.
    Source: World Health Organization
    Photo Credit: ^riza^/Flickr
  • Factors that Affect Care 4 of 8
    Factors that Affect Care
    Some factors that affect women's ability to seek or receive prenatal care include cultural practices, poverty, and distance from providers.
    Source: World Health Organization
    Photo Credit: Hamed Saber/Flickr
  • Family Planning Access 5 of 8
    Family Planning Access
    Over 200 million women who would like to choose when they get pregnant don't have access to family planning.
    Source: No Mother's Day
    Photo Credit: Robert Whitehead/Flickr
  • Adolescents At Risk 6 of 8
    Adolescents At Risk
    Adolescents face a higher risk of complications and death as a result of pregnancy than older women.
    Source: World Health Organization
    Photo Credit: Steve Evans/Flickr
  • The Importance of Skilled Care 7 of 8
    The Importance of Skilled Care
    In the developing world, only 40% of women receive skilled care during childbirth.
    Source: World Health Organization
    Photo Credit: Tammy McGary/Flickr
  • What You Can Do 8 of 8
    What You Can Do
    In order for these grim statistics to improve, the barriers to care must be addressed. Do your part by learning more about the issue, and standing with the women of the world who aren't able to access the critical prevention and care services that they so deserve.
    Photo Credit: Krzyboy2o/Flickr

Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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