Sunday was Mother’s Day and last Wednesday, May 8th, Moms from all over the world were heard in a forum that spoke about their causes through the use of social media. In an event titled “MomPlusSocial” held at 92nd Y Tribeca, it was a culmination of an initiative that began back in March by Arianna Huffington called the Global Mom Relay. The intent was to feature a Mom who has created or was part of an organization that strives to bring opportunities to women and children in developing countries share those initiatives online for 60 days. The opportunity for interaction made it possible for anyone who viewed the featured post that day to “share” it with others and by doing so, companies such as Johnson & Johnson and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would donate $5 to the following initiatives such as GirlUp, Shot@Life, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves & Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action.
The event began with Elizabeth Gore (UN Foundation) expressing the impact of what this day would bring to Moms everywhere by stating, “I truly believe that moms are the thread that holds our lives together”. It was a great segue for Carolyn Miles(Save The Children), who stressed the importance of focusing on children. Miles stated that while mortality rates for children under the age of 5 have decreased, there’s more that could be done. Some of the ways of ensuring newborn survival are: a) clean cord and antiseptic cream, b) injectable antibiotics, c) corticosteroids to promote lung growth and d) resuscitation equipment. Donating to any or all of the above mentioned is crucial if infant mortality is to be significantly decreased.
Another Mom whose story made an impact on the audience was Fortunata Kashege (Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation)from Tanzania. Kashege’s life changed when she was diagnosed as HIV positive as an adult. To make life more challenging for Kashege, she had to take antiviral drugs when she became pregnant to protect the child from the infection. Miraculously, Kashege’s child was diagnosed negative for HIV when she born. Her will to fight for her child’s life with the help of education and science won over this life-threatening situation. For Kashege, her ultimate message is, “We must stand up for women and children everywhere who have no voice”.
Two speakers who made it easy to support their causes were Jennifer Lopez and her sister, Lynda Lopez. Each of them spoke about the importance of women in their lives, especially their mother, Lupe. Their foundation, The Lopez Family Foundation, was created to provide better health care for children through telemedicine. With telemedicine, doctors can offer specialty care in other parts of the world. The goal of their foundation is to ensure that children, especially from under-privileged areas, receive the care they need at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. For Jennifer, “it’s all about education and awareness and doing something-do your part!” For these famous moms, their foundation is one of the ways they can give back and “be a great example to your children”.
Focusing on young women was just as crucial and inviting Saba Ismail (Aware Girls), Julie Zeillinger (The F Bomb) and Ines Renique (Girl Up) was the right combination to deal with issues young women face today. For Ismail, her story began tragically as a young girl from Pakistan who was sexually harassed at the age of 7, but fought back the abuse by creating Aware Girls when she was 16. Aware Girls was established as a way to raise awareness against gender inequality in Pakistan and empower girls to fight for their human rights. It is her belief that “women are the social drivers of change” and dreams of a Pakistan “where human rights are women’s rights and there is no sexual violence”.
Julie Zeillinger created The F Bomb, an online community providing a space for young women to discuss their rights and have their voices heard.
For Ines Renique (Girl Up), her involvement with the UN and Girl Up campaign was a result of seeing how others struggled to live in developing worlds while visiting Peru with her family. Her experiences while she was there made her realize how important it was to find ways to empower teens in developing countries. By joining Girl Up, young American girls have the opportunity to become global leaders, raise awareness about issues that have been plaguing girls in developing countries, and raise funds for UN programs that help these girls.
While there were numerous Moms who spoke about the importance of raising awareness on so many issues, there was one particular speaker who affected the audience dramatically, Robbie Parker. Robbie Parker was the father of Emily Parker, one of the 6 year-old children who were senselessly killed in Newtown. His introduction to the audience was preceded by a video he made of Emily’s life up until her 6th birthday. The video so touched the audience that there was not a dry eye in the house. For this blogger, the pain and sadness that was felt for him in that room was palpable, but even more so was the strength and dignity that Parker emanated as he spoke about his daughter and the importance of knowing your child. His message was as powerful as his presence: “Get to know your child; let them inspire you to do great things”.
This Mother’s Day, as every mother I knew was honored for everything they continually do for their families, it was quite humbling for me to have been a part of this amazing event and be surrounded by so many powerful women and men. My goal was to write about this event as a Mom who happened to be a social media blogger, but I was inspired to do more than what I had intended; continue to share stories of strong women who are not afraid to create powerful lives for themselves and their children. As mothers, this is just the beginning of a lifelong journey for a better future. That’s my view on this, what’s yours?
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