Sometime last week, I stumbled on this blogger contest on maternal health. I read through many interesting ideas. And decided to write on MGDFive.com's innovative idea on media and maternal mortality. Enjoy it. Feel free to post your comments; your voice could also be a voice for change. The post should be up on the Mommy Movement website soon.
MGDFive.com: Voices Saving One Woman at a Time
“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.”~ Virginia Woolf.
Early this year, I saw three short films Too Young, Too Far, Too Late about maternal mortality by Communicating for Change, an NGO based in Lagos, Nigeria. For the first time the ‘demons’ that kill pregnant women by the minute clawed at my heart so strongly. These women were not just figures, they could be my sisters. It could be me, on that bug-ridden bed, soaked in my own blood, dead cold.
Ignorance is a primary factor that leads to maternal mortality: ignorance from women on the importance of their health; ignorance by health workers; ignorance from the government. Ignorance reeks everywhere; it kills us. The media can rescue us from this death. MDGFive.com’s innovation is about the possibilities of media to keep women alive.
A coalition between the arts and the media will go a long way to effect the change we see: one poem, one song, one film can save one woman at a time. Entertainment sinks the message into the deepest parts of us. It is watching Too Young and being grateful for the power to decide when I would get pregnant. It is watching Too Far and being sad about pregnant women in rural areas walking miles to their death. It is watching Too Late, and getting angry seeing religious ignorance as a blanket of death. I bought a book on maternal health for my pregnant sister; I wanted to see her alive even as I carried her child. I dream of women’s smile as they look into their babies’ eyes.
I stumbled on Lisa Russells idea about the role of the media in safe motherhood recently. My co-blogger made a blogpost about it. Two poet-friends are interested in the project. Information is the first step; living is the end in sight. Media has the power to transform the dying ‘anonymous’ woman to your mother, your sister and your wife. MDGFive.com can unify forces for change at the personal, communal and social levels. Each poet, each writer, each person in the MDGFive.com innovation is a voice; a voice with potential ripple effects. These voices can keep thousands of women alive.
The road to change is not easy but it is not impossible. The revolution has started online but shouldn’t end there; the drums should be heard everywhere: schools, offices, government houses, hospitals and the market. Maybe then, women would pay more attention to their bodies. Maybe the government would execute more maternal friendly laws. Maybe medical personnel would pay closer attention to women’s health. Maybe life-endangering practices against women would end. Words and pictures stamp themselves on our hearts. They cling to our throats till we change. They would not let go until women no longer die as they give life.
Temitayo Olofinlua is a freelance writer based in Lagos, Nigeria. Her essay, “Fear—The Enemy of Gender Equality” won the Women Learning Partnership Essay Competition earlier this year.