Mothers For Social Good

Author and Activist Elizabeth Smart talking to Savannah Guthrie. Credit: Stuart Ramson, United Nations Foundation 

This past Wednesday I took some time off for social good, in other words, advocating for mothers and children. I attended the second annual Moms +SocialGood, a gathering of women (and some men) who strive to make a difference through social media, technology and philanthropy with the goal of of improving the health and wellbeing of women and children around the world. The event in NYC, hosted by the United Nations Foundation, Johnson and Johnson, BabyCenter, Huffington Post, and the 92Y, drew notable names like Elizabeth Smart, Melinda Gates, Ambassador Samantha Power, Arianna Huffington, ABC News anchor Amy Robach, Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan and other leaders involved in maternal and child health from organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, Girls Scouts and the WHO. 

The day marked the end of the Global Mom Relay, the two-month global conversation connecting mothers online to share their stories and experiences. I'm happy to report this year over 275,000 social media actions were taken. This means many people, maybe yourself included, took time out to read and share articles and posts. Very cool. The UNF will spread the fruits of the relay over several of their campaigns including Shot At Life, the global vaccination initiative that I've championed for the past several years. 

Why take time out for mothers and kids? 
Global Mom and Ambassador, Samantha Power
Credit: Stuart Ramson, United Nations Foundation

About 6.6 million children die world-wide each year from largely preventable diseases and conditions. 

These are deaths that can be prevented with relatively minor interventions at low costs. Polio, nearly eradicated a few years ago, has gained traction especially in war-savaged countries. Due to outbreaks in 10 countries, this past week The World Health Organization for the first time ever declared polio an international public health emergency. 

In addition to disease outbreaks, the advocates and philanthropists at the gathering addressed many other health and mental health issues. I'd love to cover all the concerns raised but in the interest of time and space I couldn't so instead highlighted some memorable comments. I've paraphrased remarks unless indicated otherwise:

Elizabeth Smart, author and advocate,The Elizabeth Smart Foundation: 

"If you are abused, you still have worth. You still have value." 

Her words for the girls kidnapped in Nigeria: This cannot destroy you. Do not let this destroy you. 

Kathy Bolles from Save the Children:

"A record number of children are living in crisis" around the world right now. From tornadoes in the US and the tsunami in the Philippines, to wars in Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and elsewhere women and children are the most vulnerable in a disaster. In war-ravaged regions, women are 14 times more likely to die than a man. A child is more at risk than a soldier. 

Check out this unusual public service ad from STC juxtaposing "sexy" models and child deaths, on purpose. Show it to your kids. Let me know the reactions. 

Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN, who showed up despite war, violence  and a high fever: 

"Don't turn away, don't get overwhelmed." You don't have to fix everything, just do something. Families and communities can get involved by mentoring refugees from other countries or adopting sister schools.

On how she does it all including reading 3 books a night to her son (even when John Kerry calls*):

"I have a great nanny."

*She does take the call but has to read an extra book or two the next night.

Dr. Sandra Hassink, President Elect, the American Academy of Pediatrics: 

"We need to be laser-focused on child health. We cannot loose childhood." We now see diseases that we used to find only in adults, like Type II Diabetes and heart disease. 

Her wish:  "To elevate the voice of children, show what it's like to be a child." When financing decisions get made, "where are the children?"

HRH Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan, maternal and newborn health advocate: 

We can end the annual 6.6 million preventable child deaths. "We know how to do it. There's no need for it."

Leith Greenslade, Vice Chair, Office of the UN Special Envoy for Financing the Health MDG:

There's a real lack of women in positions of power here and globally. We need to develop a "Mom's Power Index" to  track the importance of motherhood and maternal/child issues in the international agenda. We need to "associate motherhood with public, positive power."

Number of Mothers Running the Top 50 
Economies: 7
Companies: 3

Hildy Kuryk, Communications Director, Vogue Magazine, advocate with Born Free Africa:

"One pill a day during pregnancy and breastfeeding" is "98% effective in preventing HIV transmission (to infants).
Actor, Activist, New Mom Olivia Wilde
Credit: Stuart Ramson, UN Foundation

Anna Maria Chavez, CEO, Girl Scouts of America: 

Parents can see children as "problems to solve" or "investments or opportunities to create change in the world." 

Check out, an effort by GSA and other partners to empower girls and women. 

Ron Lieber, New York Times journalist, author, "The Opposite of Spoiled": 

Teach children to give back, talk about it. For young children, lay out 100 beans. Tell them this is how much money you have and show them how much you donate. Give them some money (an allowance?) and let them decide how much and where to donate it. 

Padma Lakshmi: Founder, Endometriosis Foundation of America, who suffered with undiagnosed Endrometriosis for over 20 years: 

"Listen to your own bodies. You can make a change every day." 

Aaron Sherinian, VP of Communications, United Nations Foundation:  


New word of the day. PHILAN-THRO-TEAM.

Thanks, Aaron, that's a great word in a great day. It's not often I focus on the positive and downright inspirational in this space (especially the upside of Social Media). Thank you to the Global Moms Challenge. 

My wish for this Mother's Day:

I hope you find some motivation to make a difference. I hope you find your own PHILANTROTEAM. They might be sitting at your kitchen table right now!

Show the kids the Sexy Model video at the above Save the Children link. Go check out Ban Bossy. Find out if the school has adopted a sister (or brother?) school. 

Note: Watch portions or the entire Moms+Social Good event on Livestream. That's the amazing Chrysula Winegar of the Global Moms Challenge in the first video, in other words, the mom in charge of the global moms.


Unknown said...

Thanks for the great information. I am always so impressed with Social Moms and all they do to give back. I especially appreciate your comments about teaching your children to give. I have started an educational program that does just that teaches children to give directly into their school curriculum. The results have been fantastic and the children truly understand the importance of giving back in a new way. If we teach our children to give it will make a new generation of givers that can change the world. Keep up the great work and encouragement to other parents to teach their children to give!

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Hi Unk, thanks for stopping by and glad you're getting the kids into giving. Let me know if you ever want to share more about your program. Would enjoy hearing some ideas.