AFTER THE CEASEFIRE, THE FIGHT TO EMPOWER ARMENIA’S WOMEN CONTINUES

By Susan Klein 

In the fall of 2020, as the COVID-19 infection rate was peaking in Armenia, the country was rocked to its core by the outbreak of what has become known as the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War—which Armenia neither wanted nor was prepared for. By the time a ceasefire agreement was reached last November, with Armenian casualties in the thousands, the loss of strategic territory, the presence of Russian peacekeepers, and mass displacement of uprooted communities, few could take notice of another longstanding battle still underway—the fight for gender equality for Armenia’s women. 

Among those on the front lines of this socio-economic reckoning are a group of women daring to take the uncertain post-war situation into their own hands, with financial emancipation as the first step in leveling the playing field in commerce and business, and, ultimately, gaining influence in shaping Armenia’s future at a pivotal historic moment.

“Substantive decisions about national security and economic viability over the next critical five years must have the entire population pulling its weight,” says Yevgenya Jenny Paturyan, Assistant Professor at the American University of Armenia, Political Science and International Affairs Program. “That includes Armenia’s women, whose resilience and ingenuity during a time of national crises and severe loss are nothing short of astounding. Armenian women always played key roles in the fate of the nation, more so in recent years and months. Women’s participation was instrumental in the peaceful Velvet Revolution of 2018. Women are overrepresented in the healthcare and service sectors, so they are, literally, taking care of the nation’s needs, wounds, hurts and losses right now. Women are struggling to keep COVID-19 at bay and are nursing the nation back to life, with hopes and dreams of a better future.”

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5 Virtual Valentine’s Day Gifts to Help Mothers Worldwide

This year while we are all still mostly locked down due to Covid-19, there are ways in which we can donate to the issues we care about most. For SocialGoodMoms.com, our primary issue is mothers — always has been and always will be — and there are a vast majority of ways to help moms across the globe through donations this time of year.

Here are five organizations to donate to this Valentine’s Day to spread not only love, but maternal health and wellness.

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The Global HER Act Explained #ReproductiveHealth #GlobalHERAct

It was a sunny afternoon as most days are in Ethiopia in April. I was taking an individual tour of a large hospital in the middle of Addis Ababa where I got to talk to doctors, nurses, and see waiting rooms and even patients who were recovering from care.

I distinctly remember the room of women who had recently had abortions or were awaiting one. The room was eerily silent despite the number of patients in the large recovery room with few windows and no air conditioning. Personal effects were on all of the beds: blankets, purses, food, extra clothes . Some of the women had female visitors, others did not. While the Ethiopian abortion law on the books is considered “semi-liberal” by African standards, there is some pushback on abortion services although in practice if a woman wants an abortion she can most likely get one. This is mostly to help decrease maternal mortality rates and to curb the rates of unsafe abortions.

As I concluded my tour, the last room I saw was where the abortions took place with all of its machines and lone hospital bed. At that moment I was glad that despite the law, these Ethiopian medical professionals along with the hospital’s policy allowed women to have a choice about their own bodies and reproductive rights.

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4 Reasons The US Is Back on Track With Global Health

As is true with each new presidential administration the global health community hangs in the balance. According to KFF.org the US global health funding was set at $11 billion in FY 2019 and in 2020 the funding was significantly decreased. This funding goes towards programs in more than 70 countries for HIV, malaria, maternal and child health among other health challenges. But now with the … Continue reading 4 Reasons The US Is Back on Track With Global Health

Built on Kindness a New Online Eco-Friendly Marketplace Launches For #SocialGood

This year has sure been a doozy with challenges across not only our country, but around the world. Despite a year filled with a pandemic and the repercussions and reverberations of it, many people have stepped up to help others. Stories have caught waves all over the news and social media from food banks helping families survive to people banding together to save beloved local … Continue reading Built on Kindness a New Online Eco-Friendly Marketplace Launches For #SocialGood

Black Doctor Dies During Childbirth #MaternalHealth #BlackMaternalHeaLTH

I do not take pleasure in writing about black maternal health in general or specifically about black women who die either during pregnancy, giving birth, directly after birth, or even a year after having a baby. In fact, it is depressing. In this case, however, despite the other women who have died publicly during and/or because of childbirth, I decided to write about this mother … Continue reading Black Doctor Dies During Childbirth #MaternalHealth #BlackMaternalHeaLTH

[VIDEO] Mother Advocates for Her Own Health After Delivery And Preeclampsia #BlackMaternalHealth

A few years ago I was honored to speak at Blogher with Merck for Mothers. The panel was about maternal health outcomes globally as well as in the United States. As I have mentioned so many times on this blog, the United States leads the developing world with maternal health deaths. This number is exaccerbated by the sheer number of black women who die from pregnancy and delivery complications.

One of the key points we honed in on during the panel was the importance of women being advocates for themselves with their healthcare providers when they feel something is wrong. But, that is not always easy. Take Serena Williams for example. She basically had to beg doctors and nurses to get a CT scan to see if her lung had blood clots which she routinely got as an athlete. They finally relented and what did they find? Blood clots in her lungs. Serena saved her own life.

Many women, especially black women, are not afforded the opportunity to simply get a doctor or nurse to believe that they do not feel well and oftentimes their lives are hanging in the balance. In fact, NPR and ProPublica gathered over 200 stories from black women who felt that they had been “devalued and disrespected by medical providers” during their pregnancies.

I regularly watch a Youtube channel called R&L Life, a cute family channel out of Florida. The mother, Rachael, recently delivered her son and a few days later she had preeclampsia symptoms with massive swelling and high blood pressure. She and her husband went to her doctor only to discover she could have a seizure at any time because of her high blood pressure. She needed to be rushed to the hospital for oral medication and a magnesium drip.

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The CDC Releases Newly Updated Maternal Death Statistics in Over a Decade

United States maternal death statistics that have been used for over a decade have finally been updated. The CDC released 2018 national and state maternal death estimates last week. The numbers have increased dramatically and still remain the worst of any developed country in the world.

Currently, the maternal mortality rate (MMR) is 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. In 2007, the MMR was 12.7 deaths per 100,000 live births. The CDC says the MMR increase largely comes from the new data and collection requirements now on standard death certificates. Starting in 2003, a checkbox requirement was placed on the U.S. Standard Certificate of Death in order to accurately record maternal deaths. The checkboxes are:

  • Not pregnant within past year
  • Pregnant at time of death
  • Not pregnant, but pregnant 43 days to 1 year before death
  • Not pregnant, but pregnant within 42 days of death
  • Unknown if pregnant within the past year
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[Review] Be More Green With Sustainable, Reusable Water Bottles and Coffee Cups

I am trying to do my part to live a greener life. I am in no way an expert in living a more sustainable lifestyle, but I am doing little things that make a difference. I am already a stickler when it comes to recycling. My family and I no longer buy water in plastic bottles. Instead we filter our tap water and when we go out we take filtered water in glass containers. And we have nearly cut all meat out of our diets.

One of the things I have wanted to do for awhile now is use more sustainable containers for my tea and coffee because that is one area that I am not working hard enough to change until now.

I received two Fressko products to use and review and I love them! One is a flask that can be used to infuse tea or you can use it to make fruit water and smoothies. So far, it’s been great for tea. The other is a reusable coffee cup.

FRESSKO TOUR FLASK ($34.95)

The Fressko Tour is a 13 oz, BPA-free glass canister. It has double walled glass and a leak-proof bamboo lid. It also has a food grade stainless steel influser for tea. The Tour stays cold for six hours and hot for four hours.

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Woman Dies From Pregnancy-Related Complications After Waiting Hours in Emergency Room

You have probably heard the story of Tashonna Ward, the 25-year-old Milwaukee woman who recently spent hours in the emergency room due to shortness of breath and died after waiting too long. Ward was told that she would spend between two to six hours in wait time at the ER according to distressing posts on her Facebook page. Preliminary tests were performed on Ward and showed she had cardiomegaly, an enlarged heart, but she was never admitted despite having chest pains and tightness of breath.

After waiting 2 hours and 29 minutes in the ER, Tashonna Ward and her sister decided to go to urgent care. She never made it. She passed out en route and collapsed and died in the urgent care parking lot. The cause of death: hypertensive cardiovascular disease.

While many reports mentioned the emergency room wait times that led to Ward’s death, a few have reported that she developed cardiomegaly due to pregnancy complications from a miscarriage in March of 2019. In fact, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Report states that the “decedent did develop cardiomegaly during pregnancy.”

“decedent did develop cardiomegaly during pregnancy.”

Milwaukee County Medical Examiner Report from January 14, 2020
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Remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Today By Donating to His Historic Sites In Atlanta and Montgomery

A few years ago I traveled through Alabama on its Civil Rights trail with the Alabama Tourism Board. I am so glad I went on that trip. I learned so much about the Civil Rights movement that I didn’t know and visited poignant historic sites that really brought the movement to life. Today on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day I want to share some … Continue reading Remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Today By Donating to His Historic Sites In Atlanta and Montgomery

Jewelry That Gives Back to Oceans

I have been a bit obsessed lately with two Instagram accounts that I absolutely love: @paulnicklen and @Mitty. Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier respectively are prolific underwater photographers and founders of Seal Legacy, an organization committed to creating healthy and abundant oceans for us and the planet.

It’s funny: As much as I love the oceans I don’t really visit them often. Sure, I fly over them often and at long stretches and I take photos of the ocean from a distance like the one above that I took in the Philippines, but I never get up close and personal to the ocean. I would like to change that one day. In the meantime, I live vicariously through Nicklen and Mittermeier. Also, as I sat looking at their work I wondered how I can help the oceans in my own little way and you can, too. Here are jewelry companies that have beautiful bling while also giving back to oceans, ocean clean-ups, reefs, and ocean life.

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Vice Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris on Successful Black Maternal Health Outcomes

It has been a historic week with the announcement of Kamala D. Harris as the first black woman nominee for vice president. Pundits and political experts alike will, without doubt, parse through her record from her time working as DA of San Francisco and Attorney General of California as well as serving in the United States Senate. One thing is clear: Senator Harris has worked tirelessly on maternal health issues as it pertains to black women who are three times more likely than white women to die due to pregnancy and delivery complications.

Harris joined forces with Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) to introduce the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, a series of nine bills that take racial disparities out of the maternal health outcomes, funds communty-based maternal health organizations, improve data collection, and invests in digital health tools among other pertinent issues.

In February of this year, Harris convened a Black Maternal Health Roundtable where women recounted their experiences with health care providers during their pregnancies and experts discussed racial disparities in maternal health care.

Courtesy of Office of Kamala D. Harris, US Senator for California
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[Reviews] 2 Social Good Books For Your Bookshelf

I recently received two books about philanthropy: Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life By What You Give (now in paperback) and The Rotary Book of Readings: Inspiration to Change the World both published by Hatherleigh Press. They are quick reads that promote inspiration and encouragement for those who give.

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9 Maternal Health Stories Worth Reading This Weekend

Now that 2020 is in full swing I decided to catch up on the many maternal health and mortality articles that were published during the holiday season. There has been a lot of stellar reporting that you might have missed. I did. Here is a compilation of some of the articles I found the most compelling starting with a wrap-up post, 7 things I learned from spending a year reporting on mothers in Alabama,  by Anna Claire Volle about the excellent year-long reporting she did on mothers in Alabama.  I particularly liked 

Black Maternal Health

[Self] Congresswoman Alma Adams on Why She Co-Founded the Black Maternal Health Caucus: Alma Adams is the congresswoman for my district. I am proud of the bi-partisan work she has been doing to help curb black maternal mortality. In this interview in Self’s Black Maternal Health series, Adams talks about the reasons why she is a co-founder of the Black Maternal Health Caucus.

[NBC News] Extremely alarming’: New report addresses maternal mortality in the U.S.: Taraneh Shirazian, director of Global Women’s Health at NYU’s College of Global Public Health and president of Saving Mothers discusses on Morning Joe how maternal mortality has decreased globally, but in the United States maternal deaths have increased particularly for black moms.

[The Hill] Reproductive revolution: Ending black maternal health inequities in 2020: Tracey Lewis-Elligan, an associate professor & chair of Sociology at DePaul University, details the ways in which black mortality can be decreased starting this year. She highlights some of the work of doulas and midwives in the fight against black maternal mortality.

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