I don't often talk about my work on this blog, but in all the excitment about my engagement, I've been thinking about how this new stage of my life informs my work advocating for improved maternal health globally. At first glance, they don't seem all that related, but I'm beginning to see the connections more clealy.
I'm 28-years-old. I finished college, graduate school, and have been gainfully employed since graduation. I've been able to travel the country and parts of the world for work and pleasure. I've moved several times. I've been in several long-term relationships that haven't ended in marriage. In general, I've had freedom and opportunity to grow personally and professionally, and to decide when I was ready that I wanted to find a long-term partner to marry. And together we'll decide if and when we want children.
Nearly all of this has been possible because of where I was born.
When I talk about improving maternal health globally, I'm talking about women my age--and girls much younger. I'm talking about girls who aren'table to go to school after eighth grade because their families can't afford it. I'm talking about girls who get married before they're eighteen because their families need dowries to survive. They go on to have several children before they turn twenty because they aren't able to negotiate sex, and they don't have access to contraceptives. And 356,000 die every year giving birth.
I remember dancing with the women in Malawi after they'd graduated from tailoring school. Their husbands were so very proud, and their little ones were excitedly running around, proud to don the beautiful dresses and suits their mothers had made. When I asked them if they were excited to find work selling their creations, they told me with sadness that they couldn't afford their own sewing machines. So, they'd worked hard to learn these skills, but had no way to practice them.
All of this because of where they were born.
It's overwhelming, and easy to get caught up in the guilt of privilege and opportunity. But I won't stay there. This afternoon I'll be speaking to a group of fifty eager activitsts who want to learn how they can help. We'll be making maternal health kits and writing letters to Congress. And I'll be making a microloan on Kiva to support small local projects that can make a huge difference in people's lives. I encourage you to do the same. There are more than fifty opportunities to support sewing projects around the world.