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Improving Reproductive Health


PBS Documentary — ‘Saving Women & Girls’


Editor’s Note: While resting over the 2013 holidays, I was inspired to watch a powerful repeat broadcast of the PBS Documentary 'Saving Women & Girls' featured on Bonnie Erbe's 'To The Contrary' Series. You can watch this worthwhile documentary here — to bring into clearer focus — the plight of 1,000s of pregnant women and girls at risk — and the key issues surrounding maternal death worldwide.

It also features inspired and informative insights that Bonnie Erbe's documentary team captured during their participation at the 2013 Women Deliver Conference convened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Highlighted are in-depth insights into ‘Family Planning’ — and particularly — the need for universally-available oral contraceptives that could save lives of millions of women and girls.

As this beginning of the year 2014 — we are pleased to be bringing some of these highlights to you — our worldwide readership — as we continue NIGH's 'Daring, Caring & Sharing to Save Mothers' Lives' global public awareness campaign. We invite you to invest some of your own quality time to explore this webpage and its links. Be sure to scroll down to the end where you can watch two videos, including one from Melinda Gates. Learn more about how and why this key issue — global maternal death — is still so very important to us all! Thanks for your continued care! Deva-Marie Beck, PhD, RN, Editor-in-Chief.


Afghan girls participating in a health education project in Kandahar in June, 2012. Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons Author: Alicia Brand with UK DIVSHUB. Used with Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Click here >> to watch the full ‘Saving Women & Girls’ PBS Episode of ‘To The Contrary’ with Bonnie Erbe. Crop of Show Introduction used with full attribution.


280,000+ Still Dying Every Year

“When experts speak of the challenges that women in developing countries face, they speak of shocking statistics. Approximately 280,000 die every year from pregnancy-related complications. More than 100,000 of these pregnancies are unintended.

“There are 80 million unintended pregnancies each year. Half of them are due to an unmet need for modern contraception.

“[for instance] in the United States, contraception is still widely available, even if it is a hot political issue. So its really hard to imagine the barriers that women in developing nations face when they try to access quality reproductive health care.”         

Bonnie Erbe — Journalist & Television Host of the PBS Feature — 'To The Contrary’


Investing in Women & Girls

“In conversations with Ministries of Finance, governments and with donors, it’s also important to make the economic case.... So we showed gains — not only to the women themselves — but also to their families, to their communities, to their nations and to the world at large. Investments are needed.... the costs of death and morbidity far exceed the costs of actually investing in prevention.”

       Jeni Klugman, Director World Bank Gender & Development

Erbe’s Media Photo— from

her online bio, used with attribution.



World Bank Gender & Development Director Jeni Klugman, from UNDPR used with attribution.

 Flickr Archives  

Family Planning — A Key Tool

“For me this is part of a much broader maternal health strategy…. In country after country, when I sit down and talk with women, they will tell you — first of all — that they will go to great lengths to get contraceptive tools to use. They'll say to you, ‘this is a life and death crisis for me because if I can't space the birth of my children, I can't feed my children…

A woman said to me, ‘you know, what I want for this child [she was holding her baby]

I want every good thing for this child before I have another one.’ And I thought that’s it! She’s captured for women what is universal — that’s what a mother wants for her child no matter where she lives in the world.”

  Melinda Gates, Philanthropist & Co-Founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


“Family planning is an essential human right. Family planning saves lives. It empowers women and girls to make positive, productive changes — to seek education, to stay in school, to participate fully in society.”

  Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director UNFPA


Melinda Gates at the 2013 Women Deliver Conference, Flickr Archives — used with Flickr Community Guidelines .


Dr. Babtunde Osotimehin at the 2013 Women Deliver Conference, Flickr Archives — used with Flickr Community Guidelines.


Tewodros Melesse’s Media Shot from IPPF.org used with full attribution.

The Future — Beyond 2015

[Editor’s Note: Across the year 2014, global discussions will continue about the UN Millennium Goals (MDGs) that will fail to reach their Targets by 2015. One of these MDGs is Goal #5 — ‘Improve Maternal Health.’ In keeping with this continuing global challenge, many advocates will be focused on what it will take — in the ‘Post 2015 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals’ — to bring women and girls into the centre of this global commitment. NIGH’s UN NGO DPI Representatives will also be focused on these discussions in New York City.]


“Girls and women are the story!


“Family planning is the most efficient way to invest in women's lives and the 2015 development agenda is a crucial pathway for all of us.”

  Jill Sheffield, President & Founder Women Deliver

“We had a tough time getting sexual and reproductive health into the Millennium Development Goals. (and) It continues to be a need... its not over! an unfinished agenda that we need to continue to focus on... so anything we can do in terms of sustainable development goals for the future, we need to keep this at the centre.”

Purnima Mane, President & CEO Pathfinder International
recent UNFPA Deputy Executive Director


Our Challenge!

“I put forth this challenge to people and to myself — to get out of your comfort zone, go up to people, start conversations, introduce yourself, make allies, challenge each other! That's going to drive the conversation forward.”

Mandy Moore — Actress, Singer-Songwriter
VIP Representative of
Population Services International

“All of us working together to look for ways to improve the quality of health care for the most vulnerable populations.”       

Leslie Mancuso, President & CEO


Jhpiego is an international non-profit health organization — affiliated with Johns Hopkins University — focused on facilitating front-line health workers to design and implement low-cost, innovative solutions to prevent the needless death of women and their families. Jhpiego was one of the generous Sponsors of the 2012 Global Launch of NIGH’s global awareness campaign for maternal health.


[Editor’s note:] We are pleased to be highlighting, here, the super-committed work of our friend and colleague, Dr. Leslie Mancuso, the CEO of Jhpiego. In the near future, we aim to feature more of Jhpiego’s significant contributions to maternal, child and primary healthcare continuing in 40 countries across the world — ‘Innovating to Save Lives.’


2013 Women Deliver Conference Feature Videos


Jill Sheffield at the 2013 Women Deliver

Conference, Flickr Archives — used with

Flickr Community Guidelines.





Pernima Mane at the 2013 Women Deliver

Conference, Flickr Archives — used with

Flickr Community Guidelines.




Wikimedia Commons Mandy Moore, at the 83rd Academy Awards, from Mingle Media TV, used with the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.0 Generic license.





Leslie Mancuso, who was a Featured Speaker at the 2013 Women Deliver Conference. Photo from Jhpiego’s Photo Gallery Profiles.

Watch Melinda Gates’ Full Keynote



WatchThe World of Rural Girls’



Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons Author: Lindsey Maya, 2012, used with Creative Commons
Attribution Share-alike 3.0


Mass Community Health Teaching in Nepal that features open dialogue about ‘Chhaupadi’ — a tradition in Achham where menstruating women are viewed as impure and are kept in small unventilated sheds which they sometimes share with cows. Women's health and dignity are compromised and most women express a desire for change. There are cases of death within the sheds due to snake bite, hypothermia, or oxygen deficiency. Girls often miss large portions of school during menstruation because of this tradition. This clinical and community health staff worked together to create a skit that portrayed the real experience of women during ‘Chhaupadi’ in effort to open up dialogue about the practice and how it could be modified or eliminated to create a more healthy and just community.




Visitors at the Mapparium in the Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston, Massachusetts. This was the site to launch Dr. Jean Watson's Million Nurse Project—during the 2010 International Year of the Nurse—to radiate heart-centered Love, Caring and Compassion through individual and collective global meditations. Photo Courtesy of the Mary Baker Eddy Library.