Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Happy International Women's Day! Ultimately, this should be an everyday event, but it is great to have a day to really focus on the achievements and contributions of women and remind folks of the continuing fight for women's empowerment around the globe.

I am grateful that I grew up with parents who told me I could achieve anything I wanted in life; even more fundamental is that I was given a solid foundation to thrive by being born in a top notch medical facility after a pregnancy during which my mother had excellent medical care.

There have been countless studies that conclude that women's health and education are primary indicators of the health of a community. This fact, juxtaposed with the sobering and painful reality of so many women all over the world, was one of the reasons I was attracted to working in women's health after I finished college.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that 1500 women die everyday from mostly avoidable childbirth related complications. Medical complications in childbirth, such as obstetric hemorrhage (massive bleeding from childbirth), obstructive labor (labor where the mother is unable to deliver the baby), eclampsia (life threatening seizures related to high blood pressure), and sepsis (widespread infection) are emergencies we in the industrialized world understand as serious, but take for granted as unlikely to result in maternal death. This is not the case in many developing nations.

This is why I want to take a moment on International Women's Day to stump for a fantastic nonprofit founded by a female MD in the Bay Area that offers critical services benefiting women in some of the most vulnerable areas of the world.

WE CARE Solar is an organization that provides photovoltaic systems to medical facilities around the globe, ensuring their ability to provide reliable medical care, especially in times of crisis. Having the electrical power to provide health care workers with consistent lighting, mobile communication, and blood bank refrigeration is critical to reducing both infant and maternal mortality rates, and this organization is being utilized by WHO as the model for providing this vital resource.

In honor of the incredible women in your life, I urge you to make a donation to WE CARE, or to another nonprofit working toward women's health, education, or empowerment -- and ultimately, a better world.

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