Hello and thank you for joining us at Every Mother Counts. I founded Every Mother Counts in 2010 after completing my first documentary film, “No Woman, No Cry” about a subject I have become passionate about since I became a mom in 2003. For some of you, I may be familiar because of my career as a model but for the better part of those years I was also an advocate for preventative health and wellness. For the last several years I've spent my time juggling being a working mom and wife, while advocating for global maternal health as a student of public health.
My interest in health and equity was ignited at a very young age. My mom was born in El Salvador and raised in southern California. When my sisters and I were small we traveled to Central America to visit family periodically until the war started. Both of my parents worked for the airlines so travel was always an important part of our lives. I inherited my sense of adventure and love of travel from them. As a teenager I fell into my modeling career, which has allowed me to continue to explore the world. All of these experiences have given me a global perspective of the world and my place in it. But it was really the experience of becoming a mom that inspired me to do the advocacy work that I am most passionate about today.
I remember anxiously waiting for my pregnancy test results with a camera in my face, thanks to my film director husband. I knew already what it would indicate, but we needed proof (and a reaction shot). I spent the months that followed researching our various birth options and indulging in my every physical whim and emotion. It was winter and the days were short so I would get into bed as soon as it got dark to watch movies, read or sleep. It was a wonderful period of time, a time I only dream about now that I have two kids… I knew that life as I had known it would never be quite the same and so I savored each day and the nuances throughout my pregnancy.
Then, after a perfect pregnancy and a delivery that went just as I had envisioned it would go, I experienced a complication that while frightening and totally unexpected, was managed efficiently by my midwife and the obstetrician who backed her. In the months that followed the birth of my daughter, I began to consider what this complication could mean for women without access to pre and postnatal care and what I learned was it can, and often does, mean death for thousands of girls and women around the world. In fact, Post Partum Hemorrhage (PPH) is the leading cause of pregnancy-related death in the world, including in the US.
Once I learned that hundreds of thousands of women around the world were dying each year I needed to know why. And when I learned that almost 90% of these deaths are preventable I committed myself to doing all that I could to stop these senseless deaths.
While pregnant with my second child, I travelled to rural villages in Central America with CARE. I spent time with women in the same state as I, doing far more strenuous work for their families and receiving far less support. I imagined myself living in their community and giving birth there and realized that had I delivered there with my first I would have died. When I returned to the U.S. and delivered a healthy second child (thankfully with no complication this time), I couldn’t help but continue to wonder about those women. How had they fared? What had their experiences been like—and had those moms and newborns survived?
In 2007, I travelled to Peru with CARE to visit the FEMME Project, a highly successful partnership in the highlands where maternal mortality rates decreased by 50% in less than 5 years. I remember driving back to the capital taking in the scenery and replaying the pictures in my mind of progress—wondering how best to share them with my family, my friends, my community. I felt that if others could see just what is possible even in remote places like this village in Peru, they too would be moved to get involved.
That’s when I came up with the idea of a film. I’d never made one before but knew that this medium was the best way to share these stories with a wider audience. I conferred with my filmmaker husband as well as a friend who is a documentary producer and the idea was off and running.
It took about two years to complete, “No Woman, No Cry.” The film includes stories from Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala and right here in the U.S.—including my own story. We premiered it at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2010 and since that time the film has been screened around the world at global health conferences, film festivals, universities and televised on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network and several other international networks.
The experience of making the film was life changing and the general response since completing it has been validating in that it has proven that the effort that went into it has been meaningful to so many. But bringing these stories to those who previously didn’t know about any of these maternal health challenges was only a start. What is awareness if not harnessed and turned into action? At every screening I attended, people were asking what they could do to help, how they could get involved. The issue was obviously touching a nerve and I found that people were reacting exactly as I had hoped—like me. Once you know the facts, how can you ignore them? I wanted to create a place others could go to learn more and be a part of the solution.
And that's how Every Mother Counts was born. We began small (and still are) but with the idea that we could be a resource to link people to ideas for how they can get involved and make a difference. We’re proud to work with some of the best NGOs and leaders in global health that are out there but we’ve set ourselves a mission of veering outside the global health community to bring in new audiences to this conversation. Our hope is to bring the facts to light in a way that helps people everywhere see themselves in the issue—to think about just how universal the experiences of pregnancy and childbirth are and how ALL women deserve access to care that can save their lives.
Since then, we’ve been hard at work doing just that. We’ve been showing the film, talking to people all over this country, and many others, about maternal health and trying to shine a light on the statistics and individuals and initiatives making a difference. In 2011 around Mother’s Day, we started to engage corporate partners with the first Every Mother Counts compilation CD in partnership with Starbucks and have built more such amazing relationships from there, realizing that likeminded corporate partners can create a bridge for people to engage as consumers. Other key corporate partners for 2011 included Lifeway Foods, Jennifer Fisher Jewelry, HATCH and Luna. We also forged great communications partnerships with dooce.com, Babycenter, Babble, AOL, Clear Channel, Blog Her, Momsrising and the Huffington Post. We started partnering more directly with various other NGOs as well to highlight actions that could impact women around the world.
This year, we are building upon all of our previous efforts and have set out to start a new phase. We’ve set ourselves the goal of driving 5 million actions in partnership with all our various partners—from NGOs to corporations to maternity care provider's offices and media outlets. We think that the most important thing we can track is how many people took the time to learn about the issue and were compelled to engage. Our commitment to you is to continue to find creative ways to do this—whether it’s through events, online actions or products you may want to purchase to benefit maternal health programs—we aim to raise resources and donate 100% of what we raise to effective life saving programs around the world. The goal then is to keep you updated on what’s working and how those dollars are being used.
In 2012 we incorporated as a 501(c)3 organization and received generous support from Merck for Mothers and Capital for Good which allow us to do this important work.
The first half of 2012 was filled with travel to many regions. In January, I traveled with the Every Mother Counts Executive Director, Erin Thornton, to Haiti with Dr. Paul Farmer and the Partners in Health team. In March, I visited India as part of Harvard’s Board of Dean's Advisory group and later that same month Erin travelled to Uganda and Zambia as part of the Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) partnership.
The trip to Africa marked the beginning of a new partnership for Every Mother Counts. Together with the U.S. State Department, Merck for Mothers, the American College of OB/GYNs and the Government of Norway, Every Mother Counts has joined the Saving Mothers, Giving Life initiative as a founding partner. The goal is to rapidly reduce maternal deaths starting in four districts in each Uganda and Zambia.
Immediately upon the return from these travels, we focused on launching the No Mothers Day campaign for Mother’s Day 2012. This campaign centered around a short film directed by my husband, Ed Burns and highlights moms urging other moms to ‘disappear’ on Mother’s Day in an act of solidarity with at-risk mothers to be around the world.
The video was widely circulated online and highlighted at Every Mother Counts’ innaugural “Mpower” lunch held in New York City on May 11, 2012. This intimate lunch event offered an opportunity to report on the progress of Every Mother Counts to date and highlight the direction of activities to come. Dr. Julio Frenk, Dean Of Faculty at the Harvard School of Public Health was our guest speaker and Edie Brickell performed a song from the recently released Every Mother Counts 2012 CD along with her daughter Lulu Simon.
Meanwhile, partnerships continue to grow for Every Mother Counts. New partners in 2012 include the 1Love.org, Susan Hanover jewelry, minted, Dwell, Episencial suncare for babies and children, The Pajama Company as well as MTV Tr3s, with many more to come.
Christy Turlington Burns History
- 1998 – "Truth" Anti Smoking campaign with CDC
- 1999- Co-created Anti Smoking Public Service Messages for MTV
- 2000- Testified at Senator Lautenburg's Tobacco hearings
- 2001- Presented at Surgon General's first report on Women and Tobacco
- 2002 – Launched smokingisugly.com and campaign featuring PSA's directed by Ed Burns
- 2002- Traveled to Afghanistan as a guest correspondent on NBC’s Today Show
- 2002- Traveled to India and interviewed the Dalai Lama for NBC’s Today Show
- 2003 – Gave birth to daughter Grace, experienced PPH
- 2005 – Traveled to El Salvador with CARE while pregnant
- 2006 – Gave birth to son, Finn
- 2007 – Traveled to Ayacucho Region in Peru with CARE
- 2007 – Traveled to Swaziland with (RED)
- Spring 2008 – Began pre-production for “No Woman, No Cry”
- January 2009 – Traveled to Bangladesh to film for “No Woman, No Cry”
- May 2009 – Traveled to Guatemala to film for “No Woman, No Cry”
- June 2009 – Traveled to Tanzania to film for “No Woman, No Cry”
- March 2010 – Traveled to Senegal, Ghana, Mozambique and Kenya with ONE
- April 2010 – “No Woman, No Cry” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival
- May 2010 – Traveled to Canada to present “No Woman, No Cry” to policy makers in lead up to G8 Summit
Every Mother Counts History
- Spring 2010 – Founded Every Mother Counts
- Fall 2010 – Enrolled at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia
- November 2010 – Returned to Guatemala with Executive Director Erin Thornton to premiere "No Woman, No Cry" and visit local maternal health programs
- January 2011 – Returned to Tanzania
- March 2011 – Every Mother Counts modules are made available on the website: Obstetric Fistula, Human Resources, Transportation and Access to Care, Family Planning including free downloadable study guides
- May 2011 – Launch the “Choices” and “Moms” PSA
- May 2011 – Launched the Count Me In! Campaign in part with premiere of "No Woman, No Cry" on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network
- May 2011 – Every Mother Counts 2011 Starbucks compilation CD is available
- May 2011 – Traveled to Paris to speak with G8 Parliamentarians about maternal health
- June 2011 – Returned to Bangladesh with Erin, Julie Smolyanksy, and Heather Armstrong to premiere "No Woman, No Cry" and visit local maternal health programs
- November 2011 – Team EMC completes the ING NY Marathon raising $140,000
- December 2011 – “No Woman, No Cry” DVD on sale
- January 2012 – Erin and Christy traveled to Haiti with Partners in Health following the 2 year anniversary of the earthquake
- March 2012 – Christy travels to India with the Harvard School of Public Health’s Board of Dean's Advisors
- March 2012 – Erin travels to Uganda and Zambia and soft launches partnership with Saving Mothers, Giving Life
- April 2012 – EMC is granted it’s own 501(c)3 tax exempt status
- May 2012 – No Mothers Day campaign kicks off with a short film
- May 2012 – Every Mother Counts 2012 compilation CD with Starbucks is available
- May 2012 – Announces partnership with the American College of OB/GYN at ACOG’s Annual meeting in San Diego
- May 2012 - MPower Fundraising Lunch
- May 2012 - Minted launch
- May 2012 - Spoke at ACOG Annual Conference
- June 2012 - “Every Partner Counts” campaign
- June 2012 - Saving Mothers, Giving Life launched in Norway
- July - August 2012- “Summer of Sisterhood” campaign
- August 2012 - Hired new Senior Writer
- August 2012 - First EMC Board meeting, Washington, DC
- September 2012 - “Every Voice Counts” campaign
- September 2012 -Present IMOW petition to UN
- September 2012 - CTB honored as Condé Nast Traveler Visionary
- October - “Every Girl Counts” campaign
- October 2012 - Announce grant to Midwives for Haiti
- October 2012 - Hire new Partnerships Manager
- October 2012 - Hire General Counsel
- October 2012 - Release “The Walk” film about distance as a barrier
- October 2012 - Announce grant to Baylor Uganda
- October 2012 - Participate in Half the Sky campaign
- October 2012 - Tracy Anderson DVD, ErgoBaby, Charity Miles, Oiselle partnerships launch
- October 2012 - Hire Social Media Assistant and Program Assistant
- November 2012- “Every Mile Counts” campaign
- November 2012 - Team of 50 runners for NYC marathon (ultimately cancelled)
- November 2012- Hire new Portfolio Director
- November 2012 - Travel to Uganda
- December 2012 - “Every Season Counts” campaign
- December 2012 - Launch Holiday Gift Guide
- December 2012 - Mozilla Firefox Challenge to raise funds for “mama kits”
- December 2012 - Trust Women conference in London
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