By Holly Cambruzzi

Having personally experiencing a brush with Post-Partum Hemorrhaging in 2003 following the birth of her first child, International Model, Christy Turlington Burns was inspired to become an advocate for women’s maternal health. “After a perfect pregnancy and a delivery that went just as I had envisioned it would go, I experienced a complication that while frightening and totally unexpected, was managed efficiently by my midwife and the obstetrician who backed her. In the months that followed the birth of my daughter, I began to consider what this complication could mean for women without access to pre and postnatal care and what I learned was it can, and often does, mean death for thousands of girls and women around the world.” –Christy Turlington Burns

Dedicated to finding a solution for at risk women, Christy traveled to the rural villages of Central America with CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. Pregnant with her second child at the time, Christy was able to experience firsthand the obstacles to maternal health in these communities, as well as form bonds with the local expecting mothers. After observing the conditions in which they lived, it soon became clear that these women were not only expected to maintain an extremely strenuous workload throughout their pregnancy; they were also receiving very little support from their local health care systems.

Unfortunately, the lack of focus on maternal health largely stems from the low status of women in the community. Despite the important role that women play in the economy and life of the country, they are often undervalued and their health is not made a priority.

After witnessing the hardship of so many women, Christy decided to make a film to examine the barriers to care and bring the issue to the forefront of the public’s mind. After conferring with her filmmaker husband, Edward Burns, and a few others, Christy began traveling throughout Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala, and even in the U.S. to gather stories for her documentary. After two years of production, “No Woman, No Cry” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2010. Since then, the film has been screened around the world at global health conferences, film festivals, universities and televised on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network and several other international networks.

One of the most touching stories in the film involves a woman from Tanzania named Janet, who was experiencing complications during childbirth and had no way of getting to the hospital from her remote rural village. Heartbreaking, provocative and sincere, Christy’s film grapples with the realities of a global epidemic swept under the rug by political inaction. Invoking a profound emotional response in viewers around the world, the success of the film paved the way for Christy to form the charitable organization, Every Mother Counts.

Created to give supporters a place to get involved, Christy and her dedicated team have fostered relationships with some of the best Non-Government Organizations and leaders in global health, while also raising awareness amongst celebrity circles, dignitaries and the general public. Uniting people with the universal experience of pregnancy and childbirth, Every Mother Counts strives to incite change by educating people on the sobering facts of maternal death and encouraging people to become a part of the solution. Speaking at events all over the world, implementing diverse campaigns, and working alongside likeminded corporate partners such as Starbucks and AOL to engage consumers, Every Mother Counts endeavours to support the global goal of reducing maternal mortality by 75%.

Donating 100% of money raised to lifesaving maternal health programs, Every Mother Counts is dedicated to providing women with access to emergency services and quality care, improving postpartum care, providing family planning, and strengthening systems and policies.

In honour of Mother’s Day, join Every Mother Counts in their mission to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for all moms.

For more information on how you can help, visit everymothercounts.org