Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Back to the Bank: #WorldMoms cover @WorldBank #SMCSO2015

Do you ever think or say "I'm just a mom?" I do that sometimes. While I'm proud that I'm a mother, it's the word "just" that is the problem...it both belittles the title of Mom and suggests that a mom is the only thing that I am when - in fact - I also happen to be a global citizen, a writer, and a child survival activist. I'm not alone in these other roles. In fact, I'm part of a growing community of women like me... World Moms Blog!

Guess what, World Bank? Our dream
is to end poverty, too!
My blogging friends aren't the only ones who value my voice and passion for creating a better world for kids everywhere. The World Bank has invited me and World Moms Blog founder Jennifer Burden to return to their Civil Society meetings representing World Moms Blog in a social media partnership with them to cover their World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington D.C. this week. Our mission is to help spread the word about the ongoing dialog between citizens from Civil Society Organizations (CSO). We're going to represent moms around the globe concerned about the futures of ALL children no matter where they were born. We're even going to present a panel with A World at School and RESULTS about how citizens like us can fight for global girls education!

Now, it's time for the pep talk to you. You are more than just a mom. YOU can be a citizen voice to the World Bank as well! Your thoughts can help drive the global conversation about poverty. Please join in by:
  • Following me at @ccylevin and the Twitter hashtag #SM2015 Also, follow the accounts of @World Moms Blog@JenniferBurden . 
  • Tweeting back to us with your thoughts and re-tweeting things you like. Use the hashtag #WorldMoms if you want to identify yourself as a mom. Here's a sample intro tweet to let us know you're out there: "I'm following @WorldMomsBlog at the @WorldBank #SMCSO2015 meetings from #_______ (insert your city here)"
  • Joining live-streamed webcast events (listed below) and leaving your questions/comments on the webcast page for the moderators! Each event has a hashtag so you can engage with the panel and audience through Twitter.
  • Leaving a question for the World Bank in the comment section of this blog. We'll try to ask it in the panel discussions and town hall meetings we attend or ask our contacts at the World Bank about it to get a response to you.
Here is the link to the full schedule of live-streamed webcast events. The list below has some of my favorites I'm most excited about. Pick one or more that interest you and join virtually. You may even see me in the audience!

Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m ET.
Location: World Bank Group Headquarters, Preston Auditorium & Online 
Can people of faith help build a movement to end extreme poverty? Can they seize this opportunity at a time of conflict in some regions -- some of it driven by groups claiming religious justification?

Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 8:45 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. ET
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim will address the press during the World Bank's 2015 Spring Meetings.

Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. ET
Join us for a panel discussion on the importance of investing in nutrition; the challenges countries are facing; and concrete steps towards scaling up high-impact programming for child nutrition.
Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. ET
Hear from a development banker, a renowned chef, an agricultural expert, a woman farmer, a culinary professional and others about the future of food, and how we can work together to feed the world.

Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. ET
Water security is emerging as the number one global risk in terms of development impact. An expert panel will share their experiences and solutions for addressing water scarcity challenges with a view of the social, economic, and political implications.

Image: World Bank Group
Ebola: The Road to Recovery
Date: Friday, April 17, 2015
Time: 7:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. ET 
WBG President Jim Yong Kim chairs this high-level roundtable at which the heads of state of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will present their Ebola recovery plans to finance and development ministers and international partners.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Saving TWO lives with #CleanBirth

I just got off the treadmill as part of a serious personal campaign to turn my mood around. Despite many awesome things that have happened this week (including THIS ONE), I have felt downright cruddy going through the motions of helping kids with homework, folding laundry, and other assorted routine events with a come and go migraine headache. But TODAY, I am turning things around by starting the day with exercising and saving lives.

Wait, what? Yes, you read that right. It's so easy that I'm not even going to put on a superhero outfit to do it (even though I have one right here..that's how nonchalant I am about it). I'm saving TWO lives - of a mother and a child - by making a simple $5 donation to CleanBirth.org, an organization started by one of my fellow World Moms Blog contributors to make birth safer in the country of Laos. For $5, CleanBirth.org provides a mother with the hygienic birthing supplies she needs to make birth safe. The nonprofit also trains nurses to teach mothers about safe birthing practices.

These are critical services for women in developing countries. We've been making good progress in the last 15 years on maternal health. After all, the maternal mortality ratio - the number of women who die from pregnancy-related causes or within 42 days of pregnancy termination per 100,000 live births - dropped by 45 per cent between 1990 and 2013, but we can do so much better for our sisters in developing nations. Did you know that the maternal mortality ratio in developing countries is still 14 times higher than in developed regions like the U.S.? (Statistics are from www.un.org website)

When I visited the CleanBirth donation page for their $10,000 campaign I saw some of the reasons why 80% of the women in Laos give birth at home or in the jungle without any nursing or midwife care:

 “I can’t take the time from my family to make the days' journey to the clinic.”  
“My husband won’t let me.” 
“It’s our tradition [to birth in the jungle].”
“We don’t have the money [for transport or clinic fees].”  
“The roads are washed out in rainy season.” 
“The nurses don’t have supplies or experience.” 
What? NO. No no no. Well, I may not be able to do anything about culture or husbands or roads in the near term, but I can darn well help make sure a nurse has the right supplies and experience.

Mothers around the world share many of the same goals. We all want safe birthdays for our babies. We all want to live through childbirth to share our babies' lives. If you want to feel great about yourself today, please donate to CleanBirth.org at this link to help them toward their $10,000 goal:

Only $5 saves 2 lives! No costume or treadmill required.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Getting Exactly What You Want..for GAVI

Image from www.one.org
Can I have a pony? No.
Can I have an iPhone? No.
Can I have ice cream before dinner? No.
Can I have a billion dollars? Yes!

Let's face it. There aren't too many times when kids get exactly what they ask for - especially if it's a billion dollars. But that's what happened this morning! Today, the U.S. made a commitment of $1 BILLION dollars over four years for GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, to get immunizations to children in poverty who desperately need them. This is the pledge my girls and I have been writing letters and making lobby visits to members of Congress about. We joined tens of thousands of people tweeting, writing, publishing, and visiting to create a movement of demand for global vaccines. Our favorite advocacy organizations - RESULTS, Shot@Life, and ONE - were united in the request for the same amount of money to fight diseases like polio, measles, and rotovirus...so deadly and easy to prevent!

Mothers in Uganda bringing their infants to an
outdoor health clinic for vaccinations
This historic pledge to GAVI is the largest ever of its kind from the U.S. It is important because it showed our leadership and commitment to ending preventable child deaths in a generation. The $1 billion U.S. pledge combined with the total promised from all the other countries led to a whopping $7.359 billion that exceeded the goal of the GAVI pledging conference which took place in Germany this morning. According to Seth Berkely, CEO of GAVI, with this significant replenishment, GAVI can now commit to immunizing over 300 million additional children and prevent 7 million future deaths from 2016-2020.

I awoke this morning at 5AM unable to sleep...maybe I felt a rumbling in the "Force" coming from Berlin where the GAVI replenishment session was underway? I turned on my laptop and discovered the meeting was being live streamed. I watched as country after country stepped up with their promises. When it came time to get the kids up for school, I woke them with the news that this morning the U.S. was going to make the promise we asked for. "Is it happening now?" Yes, it is. "Can we watch it during breakfast?" You want to watch a pledging conference? Sure, why not?
On live web-cast, Canada promises $500M
Watching the live webcast with kids brought up some great observations and conclusions from them that were both insightful and funny to me. Here are the notes I took from our conversation:
  • Qatar is a new donor to GAVI. It has no "u" in its name even though it seems like it should. It's located in the Middle East. Despite what we see on American TV news, some very, very good things come from the middle east.
  • China made it's first ever pledge to GAVI. It used to be a recipient of GAVI money, now it gives back. It is possible to move out of poverty and contribute to others.
  • Japan said nice words, but did not make a pledge. Sometimes grown-ups don't get their act together and get their homework done even when it's super-important. That's embarrassing.
  • The UK is the biggest donor to GAVI. The U.S. is not always #1.
  • Bill Gates pledged $1.5B Wow, Bill Gates is a famous person who is still alive! Some individuals are able to contribute more than some countries.
  • Together, all the countries reached over the goal to a total of $7.539 billion. It takes everybody working together to solve a global problem.
  • The U.S. pledged exactly what we asked for. WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
What a way to start the day and head off to school! The girls walked out the door with a sense that they had personally accomplished something major in the world...and indeed they had. Congratulations to all who worked so hard on gathering this momentum and commitment from the world's government. I hope you're walking around with some of the swagger that we are today!
Celebration selfie before heading off to school!