Strong Like A Mother: The World’s Biggest Mama Meetup 2018

By Sarah Lux-Lee

March 15, 2018

On March 8th 2018, mothers and their allies gathered in co-working spaces and coffee shops, adventure parks and ski slopes, universities and yoga studios, and even at the United Nations, to participate in the inaugural World’s Biggest Mama Meetup.

Mindr and the United Nations Foundation’s Global Moms Challenge organized this global campaign in order to foreground mothers’ voices and issues within the global gender equality conversation that takes place annually on International Women’s Day.

“Today we are writing a new page in United Nations history, because this is the first time that babies are welcome and their mothers can be part of the discussion,” said Sofia Herrera, President of the Women’s International Forum, when she opened the flagship event at UNHQ, hosted by WIF and sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Austria to the UN. Almost 600 mothers and hundreds of babies and young children attended, filling every seat. The historic event was livestreamed on UN TV and broadcast on the Fox 5 NY evening news.

Photo Credit: Stylish & Hip Kids Photography

Globally, meetups took place across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania, and featured discussions about women’s rights, climate change, paid parental leave, access to healthcare and education, and how mothers can work together to progress the Sustainable Development Goals. The call to action was voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar in a campaign video created by Moms-in-Film, encouraging mothers worldwide to participate.

Moms Africa hosted meetups in 17 locations across Nigeria and Egypt. “Being a part of #MAMAMEET2018 proved to me how powerful moms can be when we are united,” said the organization’s Founder and President Mary Ikoku. Nibble + Squeak, The Founding Moms, and Make Mothers Matter, three trailblazing organizations working serving mothers worldwide in the social and entrepreneurial spheres, organized meetups in dozens of cities around the globe.

Being part of #MamaMeet2018 was important to me because it is an opportunity to celebrate women, to celebrate mothers as leaders who work every day to invest in the future, to bring attention to the issues women face and to join my voice to a movement that will generate important change for me, my family and my daughter.

Photo Credit: Emily Barnacle

Barriers facing mothers in the workplace and strategies for overcoming them were a common theme, from Trinidad to Vietnam to Cape Town to Paris to Chicago to Detroit to Australia. This concern was echoed by Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, who addressed the flagship event at the United Nations in New York: “What we need is a mindset shift. Not supporting mothers who are able to contribute so much for the entire organization – it would be a loss.”

Many meetups discussed public policy improvements needed to protect mothers and their families. Groups in Dallas, Detroit and Charleston focused on safety from violence, while a gathering in Scottsdale featured an address by Representative Athena Salman about the importance of local activism. A meetup organized by Social Good Lagos focused on the personal within the political: “The first place to start from is how women see themselves. Do you see yourself as deserving?” asked panelist Omojani Regina Isioma.

Stylish & Hip Kids Photography

Health and wellness also emerged as a theme. Yoga classes and guided meditations took place in Brazil, California, Arizona and at the UN Foundation offices in Washington, D.C, and online discussions about safe breastfeeding and maternal health were hosted by Pumpspotting and Merck for Mothers. Meetups from the UK to Beijing focused on the importance of community, while a gathering at Disneyland highlighted the importance of supporting woman-led businesses. Meetups also took place in workplaces, including several co-working spaces, the United Nations Office at Geneva, with local Impact Travel Alliance Chapters and at several offices of the nonprofit organization Save the Children.

We were overwhelmed by the energy, passion and determination with which our call to action was picked up by mothers worldwide, who were ready to spring to action. And we have loved hearing your responses, like this one: “Being part of #MamaMeet2018 was important to me because it is an opportunity to celebrate women, to celebrate mothers as leaders who work every day to invest in the future, to bring attention to the issues women face and to join my voice to a movement that will generate important change for me, my family and my daughter.”

Stylish & Hip Kids Photography

On behalf of Mindr and the Global Moms Challenge, we want to express our gratitude and admiration for every individual and organization who mobilized and participated in the World’s Biggest Mama Meetup 2018. Together, we learned, discussed, strategized and connected, in our individual meetups and as a global community, all with our little ones by our sides. Watch this space, mamas – we can’t wait for what’s to come next year.

 

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