Ethiopia’s Tigray Region Is still Under Attack

If you have followed my travels or have read my blog over the years you know that Ethiopia is my favorite country in the world. There is something about the people, the culture, its beauty and the sheer size of the country I love.  Even though I love Ethiopia I have never been under a grand illusion that it is a unified country. There have been mass arrests and killings in Oromia, journalist and freedom fighter imprisonments, and now a civil war with mass atrocities and forced starvation against the people of the Tigray region. In fact, just this week reports of an airstrike on a market near Tigray’s capital Mekele killed at least 64 people and wounded over 100. 

Even as war is still happening in Ethiopia’s northernmost region, its national election officially wrapped on Monday without voting in Tigray, of course. Now, ballots are being tallied across the country with the likelihood that the current prime minister Abiy Ahmend will be reelected.  

Women selling baskets in Hawassa, Ethiopia.
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New Photos Show Atrocities in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region

Since last November, Ethiopia and Eritrea’s militaries as well as militia groups from Ethiopia’s Amhara region have imposed heavy atrocities on the country’s northern Tigray region. Reports from the ground from journalists and aid agencies reveal mass rapes, murders, and intentional starvation of 350,000 of the region’s 6 million people. Farmers are not being allowed to plant their crops and food trucks are being turned around at gunpoint.

Yesterday, the New York Times published photos by conflict photographer Lydnsey Addario who captured some of the sufferings in Tigray including rape survivors to children who have been caught in the crossfire.

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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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The Universal Human Right to an Identity from Birth Explained

By Caroline Kinsella, Advocacy and Communications Intern, White Ribbon Alliance 

One of the more hidden human rights abuses around the world is the fact that one billion people have no legal proof of identity. Alarmingly, UNICEF estimates that about one in four children  under age 5, or 166 million, are unregistered and without any trace that they exist.  Conversations about reducing global poverty and protecting the health and human rights of  mothers and newborns must include the challenges of birth registration.

A single piece of paper has the power to transform a person’s future. Birth certificates are  necessary to access government services, life-saving medical treatment, a nationality and age related legal protections. Legal proof of birth is often required to attend school and apply  to higher education, as well as open a bank account and vote. Many of the individuals without a  birth certificate today are children who were never registered at birth. In some cases, nobody  knows for decades that a child does not have a birth certificate. 

In Uganda, Senfuka Samuel, who goes by Sam, applied for a master’s degree program that  required a birth certificate. As he did not have one, Sam had to venture to the hospital where he  was born. There, he discovered that hospital records before the year 2000, including any  proof of his birth, were destroyed in the civil war. Traveling hundreds of miles over two  weeks, Sam spent his own money to first get issued a necessary ‘birth notification’ – a slip of  paper with birth details handwritten by a midwife – to later gain a new legal birth certificate. 

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Biden Agrees to $4 Billion in Funding for Global Equitable Access to COvid Vaccines

Tomorrow at President Biden’s first G-7 meeting as commander-in-chief, an announcement will be made by the White Hourse outlining $4 billion in funding that will provide Covid vaccines to 92 low-and-middle income countries. Thus far, Covid vaccines have been made readily available to rich nations while poorer nations have previously been relegated to months-long delays. Now, with this infusion of money through a multilateral agreement, that wait will be substantially decreased.

Biden will use the G-7 to rally support and additional funding from fellow leaders. $2 billion of the funding will be released right away to GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance with the remaining $2 billion depersed over the course of two years with the caveat that other rich countries make good on their pledges. The United States reentry in the global health community especially the World Health Organization is a stanch repudiation of Trump’s withdrawal from the world health’s governing body.

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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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Black Pregnant Mother

2021 Black Maternal Health Legislation Updated With Covid-19, Climate Change Bills #Momnibus

In 2020, Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) along with then California senator Kamala Harris introduced the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, a series of nine bills that took racial disparities out of the maternal health outcomes, funded communty-based maternal health organizations, improved data collection, and invested in digital health tools among other pertinent issues. While the legislation didn’t gain much traction, legislators believe it … Continue reading 2021 Black Maternal Health Legislation Updated With Covid-19, Climate Change Bills #Momnibus

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

CDC Launches Campaign To Raise Awareness About Pregnancy and Postpartum Warning Signs

The other day I wrote about a Youtube mom who recently gave birth to her son and then recognized that her blood pressure was too high after she was released from the hospital. She immediately visited her OBGYN and then ultimately was hospitalized due to the severity of her condition, preeclampsia. You can follow her journey at R & L Life. She, her husband, and sister have updated viewers about how she is doing. Watching her videos shows how difficult it is for her doctors to get her blood pressure down after several days. It is all to show that warning signs during and after pregnancy are important to listen to and act upon as she did.

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[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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