Christy Turlington Burns is a mother, social entrepreneur, model, and founder of Every Mother Counts. As a result of her global advocacy work she was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2014, Glamour Magazine’s Woman of The Year in 2013, and one of Fast Company’s Most Creative Minds in 2013. Christy is a member of the Harvard Medical School Global Health Council, an advisor to the Harvard School of Public Health Board of Dean’s Advisors and on the advisory Board of New York University’s Nursing School. She holds a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies and has studied Public Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. A four-time marathon finisher, Christy resides in New York City where she lives with her husband, filmmaker Edward Burns, and their two children.
Jennifer James: We are impressed that you are helping to spread the word about maternal health and mortality in the Unites States. When did it occur to you that there is a maternal health crisis in America?
Christy Turlington Burns: Soon after experiencing a childbirth complication following the delivery of my first child, I learned that hundreds of thousands of pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths occur around the world every year. Yet, up to 98 percent of those deaths are preventable. Once I knew about these shocking statistics, I had to know why this was happening. This led me to make a documentary film, “No Woman, No Cry,” which examines the state of maternal health in four countries Tanzania, Guatemala, Bangladesh and the United States. While making the film, I learned that while 99% of these global deaths occur in developing countries, we lose three women per day in the U.S. too.
Did you know that almost half of the people in the world live in poverty, including almost a billion children? Those living in poverty lack access to a varying number of necessities such as shelter, food, water, and medical care. According to the World Food Programme, hunger is the leading cause of death in the world.
Poverty is a complex issue because the longer it exists, the more it grows. Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than $1.25 a day. The countries that have its citizens living in extreme poverty have been in that state for several years, if not decades. However, it is important to note that in 1990, nearly half of the population in the developing regions lived on less than $1.25 a day. This rate dropped to 14 per cent in 2015, according to the United Nations. Poverty is an exponential problem that cannot be fixed on its own. One simple way that we can all help the issue of poverty in low-and middle-income countries in the long-term is by implementing fair trade.
I have often focused on maternal health and mortality around the globe especially where the deaths rates are the largest, but there is much-needed sustained discussion about maternal mortality in the United States. I have detailed the problem in several previous posts here including:
Periodically I will share news and updates about what is happening in the maternal health space in the United States including the successes and failures to save more women’s lives as well as the key players who are making a difference.
Rape has always been used as a weapon of war and women and girls are typically the victims of these heinous crimes.
To bring more awareness to sexual violence during conflict the United Nations General Assembly created the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict that will be commemorated on June 19 each year.
“Rape and other forms of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict constitute grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,” President of the 193-member Assembly, Sam Kutesa, declared as he greeted the resolution’s adoption. “Yet these depraved acts still occur and are used to terrorize and control civilian populations in conflict zones.”
“The Journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”
— Lau Tzu, Chinese Philosopher
That inspirational quote has never rang more true than when considering the journey of thousands of successful women entrepreneurs around the world who started out with little more than a desire to provide the basic fundamental needs for their families.
Although female entrepreneurship has been steadily increasing over the last 10 or 15 years, there are still many hurdles to overcome. This is especially true for women in underprivileged communities here in the U.S. and abroad. While starting a new business is an uphill challenge for most budding entrepreneurs, for women living in poverty, it is often considered an impossible dream.
But seemingly insurmountable odds are no match for a woman with a burning passion to succeed.
It is in that gap, between the audacity of hope and the fulfilling of needs, that the Coca-Cola Company saw an opportunity to be of service.