Where’s James? Catching up with Christy Turlington Burns at Every Mother Counts.
By Savannah Lira, Program and Communications Associate
Most of us may know Christy as a world famous super model who has graced the covers of countless magazines and brand campaigns, but she has used her platform to become the founder of Every Mother Counts and a global advocate and social entrepreneur for maternal health.
One woman in our world dies every 2 minutes from complications in pregnancy or childbirth. Lack of transportation to a clinic, lack of education amongst expectant mothers, and lack of supplies or even electricity all contribute to this. The tragedy is that 98% of these deaths are preventable. This is the cause that Christy Turlington Burns took up when she endured complications giving birth to her own child and realized that had she been in less fortunate circumstances and not in a modern hospital, she would not have survived.
Maternal health is not just an “over there” problem in Africa or Latin America. Every day, 2 women in the US die from complications in pregnancy or childbirth. The US is one of only 13 countries where the maternal mortality rate is rising due to lack of insurance, chronic diseases like obesity, and discrimination towards minority and disadvantaged populations. The US ranks a dismal #46 in the world in maternal health.
Christy has been working to raise this awareness. In 2010, she released her documentary film, No Woman, No Cry, sharing the powerful stories of at-risk pregnant women in four parts of the world, including a remote Maasai tribe in Tanzania, a slum of Bangladesh, a post-abortion care ward in Guatemala, and a prenatal clinic in the United States. She has since extended her work to places like the Bronx and rural Texas, and she wants to bring her advocacy and grant making to help mothers right here in our own backyard, as she was born and raised in Walnut Creek.
In 2017, PVF helped fund Giving Birth in America – California, part of a film series examining the issues that have contributed to the maternal health crisis in the United States. Several films highlighting the stories of women and healthcare providers to bring faces and voices to the statistics are now available at Every Mother Counts’ website.