This post was first published on Motherly, a new digital community to help modern women thrive that was launched today. 

Mother’s Day is always a special time of year as it is a time for mothers to be celebrated, appreciated and loved for the endless work we do to raise, nurture and love our children. Being a mom is one of the most wonderful gifts I’ve ever received and as a world traveler and writer on global health issues, I’ve realized how lucky we are as mothers to have the things we need to raise healthy children.

It wasn’t until I began traveling in the developing world that I got a sense of the enormous inequities for billions of mothers and their children who don’t have access to health care, clean water and sanitation, food and immunizations to protect themselves and their families. As an American, middle class mom of two, I took all these things we had for granted until I visited India, Ethiopia, Haiti and parts of Central America where I witnessed the struggles and tragedies that many mothers around the world face. So many moms lost their lives in childbirth delivering at home with no help or lost their babies due to preventable causes. It is heartbreaking and incomprehensible.

Mosebo Village

In Ethiopia at Mosebo Village. June 2014

It was while visiting these parts of the world that I realized the common bond we all share as mothers and the urgency in which these moms and their babies need our help. Although we have made a tremendous amount of progress in the area of maternal and newborn health around the world, statistics like these below must improve. Too many mothers and their babies are needlessly dying.

  • Although there has been significant progress in women’s health around the world (Per WHO, between 1990-2010 there has been a 45% drop in maternal mortality worldwide), 800 women die every singe day due to pregnancy-related causes and almost all of these deaths are preventable.
  • Despite the decline in the number of deaths in children under five worldwide from 12.7 million in 1990 to 6.3 million in 2013, it is still way too many children to die especially when most of these deaths can be easily prevented.
  • One child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable death.

As mothers, we all share the common bond of motherhood. We all want the best for our children despite where we live, what our culture and religion is, and what language we speak. Life or death should not be a matter of where you happen to be born. Instead, I believe that we all should have the same basic rights for ourselves and our children: Pre-natal and post-natal care, birth by a trained delivery assistant, access to safe water, sanitation and immunizations, and enough food to fed our families.

Mothers gather in India to learn about pre-natal care, a program ran by Save the Children.

Mothers gather in India to learn about pre-natal care, a program ran by Save the Children.

That is why I am a strong supporter of international non-profit organizations (NGO) that help women and girls especially in the area of maternal and infant care where we can do so much to save lives. There are amazing, innovative NGOs working tirelessly all around the world to improve the lives of women and their families. What is even more exciting is that with the power and prominence of social media there are many ways we can help.

Mothers in the western world can be an armchair advocate by signing up to receive weekly emails about women’s issues and can share information with friends on social media. Mothers can volunteer or advocate for one of the various NGOs that focuses on maternal and newborn health such as Save the Children, Women Deliver, Maternova, Doctor’s without Borders, Jhpiego, Marie Stopes, Maternity Worldwide, Shot@Life, and WaterAid. Mothers can learn about an issue they care about and fundraise to help provide financial assistance to moms in need. The opportunities to get involved and give back are endless.

So this Mother’s Day, perhaps you can make a personal decision to do something to help another mom in need around the world. Trust me, it feels amazing to make a difference and touch someone’s life.

Here is a list of some of my favorite NGOs that focus on maternal and newborn health:

  • Save the Children:   A global non-profit organization that invests in childhood – every day, in times of crisis and for our future. In the United States and around the world, Save the Children gives children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.
  • Women Deliver: A leading, global advocate for girls’ and women’s health, rights, and well-being, Women Deliver brings together diverse voices and interests to drive progress in maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights.
  • Maternova: An organization that make it easy for doctors, nurses and midwives and the organizations that equip them to track innovation and to buy technologies and kits to use overseas that save mother and newborns lives.
  • Doctor’s without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF): Helps people worldwide where the need is greatest, delivering emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters or exclusion from health care.
  • Jhpiego: An international, non-profit health organization affiliated with The Johns Hopkins University that works in over 155 countries to prevent the needless deaths of women and their families by partnering with health experts, governments and community leaders to provide high-quality health care for their people.
  • Marie Stopes: One of the largest international family planning organizations in the world that provides reproductive services to women around the globe.
  • Maternity Worldwide: An organization that works in developing countries to help women and girls access the high quality maternal health care they need to be able to give birth safely.
  • Shot@Life: Provides access to life-saving vaccines around the world to help end vaccine-preventable deaths to children.
  • WaterAid: The world’s largest international non-profit organization specifically dedicated to helping the world’s poorest people transform their lives through access to safe water, toilets and hygiene education.

What you can do to learn more:


  1. A beautifully written post Nicole. Thank you for making this information so readily available. Hope you are having a lovely Mothers Day.

  2. A very apt post for Mothers” Day, Nicole. You’ve reminded us that many mothers in this world are fighting an ongoing battle to keep their children healthy and well fed. Thanks for listing your favourite NGO’s. They are all doing a great job, but definitely need our support. I am very familiar with the ‘Save the Children’ fund. Hope you had a great Mothers” Day.

  3. Nicole you bring home such a good point of how much we take forgranted in raising our own children in North America. I know I certainly did. The availability of clean water, sanitation, health care, vaccines, basic shelter and food. Another well written piece and although things are improving we have so far to go.

  4. Thanks so much for giving all this excellent information that I’m sure will be spread by your many readers. Mothers and children worldwide will thank you too! Hope you had a great day.

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