Women’s History-Makers

Throughout March, as we’ve celebrated Women’s History Month, we’ve remembered the women whose dedication, bravery, and hard work paved the way for the lives we live today.

Women like Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan B Anthony, and Rosa Parks are women’s history’s shining stars. But along side these she-roes were legions of other women whose names we’ll never know, but whose work helped bring us to where we are now. As we look back, we’re asking, “Who are the women blazing trails right now?” We think many of our grantees qualify as modern-day history-makers.

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Laura E. Stachel, M.D., M.P.H., is the Executive Director and co-founder of We Care Solar, and an obstetrician-gynecologist who recognized that a lack of reliable electricity in health facilities was a leading contributor to maternal deaths. Dr. Stachel and her husband, Hal Aronson, developed the Solar Suitcase and founded We Care Solar to bring compact, sustainable solar power, lights, and essential medical equipment to healthcare facilities in developing countries that were operating off the grid. We Care Solar also trains local community members to install and maintain their Solar Suitcases, making this a sustainable solution that involves entire communities.

Why is Laura is a history maker? Because as of November 2015, approximately 1,300 Solar Suitcases have been sent to 27 countries where they’re saving mothers’ lives and radically improving healthcare workers’ capacity to provide care.

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Jennie Joseph, CPM, is a British-trained midwife and the founder and Executive Director of Commonsense Childbirth in Florida. Jennie was shocked at the lack of healthcare access that low-income, women of color faced in the United States. Her solution was to create a facility where pregnant women could receive high quality healthcare regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. Jennie and her staff provide hands-on assistance to make sure women get the insurance, education, and the healthcare services they need to have the healthiest pregnancies and births possible.

Why is Jennie a history maker? Because she’s bridging healthcare gaps that are all too common in maternal health in America.

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Nadene Brunk, CNM is a midwife and the founder and Executive Director of Midwives for Haiti. After witnessing the dangerous conditions that left Haiti with the highest maternal mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere, she created a model for training Haitian nurses to become skilled birth attendants. Midwives for Haiti makes a direct impact on the lives of Haitian women, infants, and families by increasing their chances of having skilled care at their births.

Why is Nadene a history maker? Because she’s helping Haitians to help themselves and making it safer for Haitian women to become mothers.

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Sukti Dhital is a human rights lawyer and the Executive Director and co-founder of Nazdeek. Sukti recognized that women in India didn’t know they had a right to healthcare or that laws protected them during pregnancy and birth. Along with a team of legal advisors, local coordinators, volunteers, and interns, she developed educational and training programs for women who work and live on tea garden plantations. Located miles from the closest hospital, these women often lack access to basic medical and nutritional services. Nazdeek is improving maternal health by training women on all stages of legal advocacy because when women know their rights and how to advocate for them, their access to healthcare opens up.

Why is Sukti a history maker? Because she’s teaching women how to stand up for their basic rights to healthcare during pregnancy and early motherhood.

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Sera Bonds, MPH is the founder and Executive Director of Circle of Health International (COHI), which works with women in crisis situations, like the conflict in Syria, to provide access to reproductive, maternal, and newborn care. COHI aligns themselves with local, community-based organizations led by women who live and work in refugee settings where Sera and her team provide the resources, training, supplies and expertise to meet women’s reproductive healthcare needs.

Why is Sera a history maker? Because she’s served 3,000,000 women in some of the most vulnerable parts of the world including Syria, Nicaragua, Haiti, Nepal, Israel, and the United States.

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Gabriella Melendez is a midwife and the director and Academic Coordinator of Corazon del Agua in Guatemala City. She’s tackling maternal mortality in Guatemala by training traditional birth attendants to become midwives. Traditional midwives, or “comadrones” are the main source of healthcare for most Guatemalan women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period and the majority of births take place at home. Melendez is improving maternal health by boosting comadrones’ education, skills and capacity to provide prenatal and antenatal care.

Why is Gabriella a history maker? Because she’s using the power of education combined with respect for traditional childbirth traditions to make pregnancy and childbirth safer for Guatemalan women.

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Dr. Adeodata Kekitinwa is the executive Director of Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation where she supervises the voucher program Every Mother Counts supports, and the maternal health interventions that make the Saving Mothers Giving Life initiative in Uganda possible. Recognizing that transportation is among the biggest barriers women face when accessing maternal healthcare, she was part of the team who identified a brilliant solution — provide pay vouchers and train motorcycle taxi drivers to transport women from remote villages to safe birth facilities during pregnancy and labor.

Why is Dr. Addy a history maker? Because by getting pregnant women access to transportation, she has helped more than 85,000 mothers reach skilled care.

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