A Mother’s Matter

by Natasha Wolff | November 14, 2014 5:22 pm

Last night at the Bowery Hotel, New York’s glitterati gathered to support a cause that is near and dear to most everyone: mothers. In 2010, veteran supermodel and fashion icon Christy Turlington Burns founded her non-profit organization Every Mother Counts[1], and last night she hosted a hotly anticipated fundraiser with performances by Grouplove and ASTR, along with a DJ set by Vashtie. While thoroughly entertaining, all the fun was a means to a serious end: raising money and awareness for the 278,000 women around the world women who die each year from complications during pregnancy or childbirth.

Half a decade after launching her first Every Mother Counts campaign, Turlington Burns’s organization has greatly expanded its reach. It now has programs in Uganda, Malawi, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Indonesia, Florida and New York City—all with unique goals that span from distributing transportation vouchers to pregnant women in rural areas, to installing “solar suitcases” in clinics without electricity, to training and providing birth attendants with obstetric care supplies, among many other efforts. Clearly, the need is endless, and the avenues by which to address the need are endless as well. 

Here, DuJour caught up with the advocate to take her pulse on the progress of Every Mother Counts. 

How has the vision of Every Mother Counts developed?

Our goal has always been to do what we could to end preventable maternal deaths, but we went from simply raising awareness to identifying solutions that we could also support by raising funds and engaging the broader public. These two efforts combined are addressing three critical barriers to maternal health: education, transportation and supplies. We believe actions speak louder than words alone, and by putting our voices and actions together we can generate resources that will improve access to critical care for more women and their families. 

How has the commitment to this cause affected you personally?

This issue has always been personal. I experienced a complication after delivering my daughter in 2003 that opened my eyes to a global tragedy that I knew nothing about. I learned that hundreds of thousands of girls and women die every year around the world from complications similar to the one I survived. So I began a journey that included making a documentary film called No Woman, No Cry to explore the barriers women face around the world when in need of basic and life-saving maternal healthcare. When I completed the film in 2010, I knew it was the beginning of something much bigger.

What are some things that have surprised you about founding a non-profit?

It was surprising to see that it wasn’t easier for people who related to this issue to get involved in a meaningful way. I think that sometimes what’s lacking is a fresh perspective on old problems. By allowing others the opportunity to participate and share their ideas and experiences, it allows us as a small organization to listen and be responsive. A non-profit is also very much like a start-up in that there is always more to be done and many ways to accomplish what needs to happen.

What is one of the most encouraging things you’ve encountered in the realm of maternal health recently?

The most encouraging thing is that up to 98% of the nearly 300,000 maternal deaths that occur around the world are preventable! We don’t need to find a cure. We know how to save these lives. 

What is one of the most discouraging?

What’s most discouraging is that anything related to women and their bodies and reproductive systems has become politicized and that alone is preventing millions of women and their families the ability to access critical care when they need it.


Click through the gallery to see pictures from Turlington Burns’s New York City event.

Main photograph by Bruce Weber

  1. Every Mother Counts: http://everymothercounts.org/

Source URL: https://dujour.com/cities/every-mother-counts-new-york-fundraiser-pictures/