Motherhood, though a wonderful experience, also has its drawbacks. Giving birth used to be something to legitimately fear, with as many as 4 percent of women dying during childbirth in the 17th and 18th centuries. If you think that fear has passed, think again. Childbirth is still the sixth most common cause of death for American women between the ages of 20 and 34. I know what you’re thinking: Why do you have to be such a bummer this morning? Knowledge is power, my ladies. If we don’t care about our fellow women’s health outcomes, who will? Think about it this way: Today, you get another opportunity to effect some positive change for other women.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 830
According to the World Health Organization, which works diligently to reduce the global maternal-mortality rate, unbelievably, about 830 women die every day worldwide from entirely preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth. If you thought the number of American women affected is staggering, get this. As many as 99 percent of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries, with most of them being preventable if facilities had basic resources.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Laura Stachel, Co-founder and Executive Director of We Care Solar
Now that we’ve covered the alarming issue of maternal mortality, let’s talk about something more reassuring: the women working tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of those mothers living in low-resource settings. While there are many complicated aspects involved in preventing diseases and saving lives, one of the most needed resources is something many of us take for granted every day: electricity. That’s where the unshakeable and remarkably determined Laura Stachel steps in.
Laura is the co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit We Care Solar, a steadfast organization that works to reduce maternal mortality in developing regions by providing health-care workers with reliable lighting, mobile communication and medical devices—all powered by solar electricity. It’s pretty hard to cure or even treat a patient in the dark, and that’s part of what makes We Care Solar’s state-of-the-art, portable solar-electric system so vital in helping women and babies most in need.
When a baby is coming, there’s no waiting around for a small window of electricity to kick in. That’s what’s so great about We Care Solar’s solution. Encased in a compact, bright-yellow suitcase, We Care Solar portable power units can be used permanently or temporarily to power overhead medical lighting, charge cellphones and help health-care workers provide the best care possible for expectant moms. The unit even includes LED headlamps that come with their own rechargeable batteries and a fetal doppler. More than 2,000 health centers have relied on Laura’s innovative technology, which has helped more than 700,000 moms and their newborns.
Laura, an obstetrician and gynecologist by training, faced some difficult personal news in 2002, when she experienced severe back pain and an MRI revealed a severe degenerating disc disease in her spine that would require her to stop performing baby deliveries. Rather than mope, this passionate doctor spent a year rehabilitating herself through physical therapy, later earning a master’s degree in public health and launching We Care Solar in direct response to the devastating energy poverty she witnessed firsthand while conducting research in Nigeria.
Laura’s work promoting sustainable energy as a way to better health care to improve women’s lives has earned her countless awards, including the Powering the Future We Want Award from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Award for Civic Engagement.
Laura is an ideal example that a big and giving heart—and a remarkable amount of dedication—can truly change lives for the better.
QUITE THE QUOTE
Today’s simple yet powerful quote from Laura Stachel says it all:
“I really want a world where women can deliver babies safely and with dignity.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.