As we reflect on the year behind us, there were some very special and important moments for moms and kids in 2015. We’ve compiled a list of ten of our favorites, though there are many more:
The global goals, known officially as the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, were made a reality in 2015. These 17 goals each play a part to end extreme poverty, fight gender inequality and injustice, and fix climate change, all by 2030, are critical steps in changing our world for the better. As a result, nearly 35 million children’s lives could be saved globally over the next 15 years – or 6,500 lives per day – through strengthening health systems, providing free healthcare for mothers and children and increasing the number of health workers trained to help sick children.
14 million under-age girls are married in various countries on the African continent each year – often against laws that are rarely enforced. Early in 2015, and following years of advocacy efforts, the parliament in Malawi adopted the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Bill, raising the minimum age of marriage to 18. The new law has the potential to significantly impact 4.5 million adolescent girls in Malawi who might otherwise enter adulthood far too soon.
Every mother should have the right to a healthy pregnancy, a safe delivery, and a child who will not only survive but also thrive. With the threat of war, famine, poverty, natural and man made disasters, all of which are made worse by the impacts of climate change, it is harder to achieve those goals. For the first time in history, nearly every country in the world has agreed to take action to combat the defining issue of the 21st century – climate change. The Paris Agreement, adopted on December 11, marks the beginning of a new and action will potentially save thousands of mothers and children.
Just last week, women in Saudi Arabia were given the right to vote in municipal elections for the first time! Women are now also allowed to run for office for the first time in the nation’s history. Though women are still required to cover their heads and may not drive, the number of women in the Saudi workforce has been increasing. This move is significant and sends a strong signal to Saudi society that women are continuing toward greater participation in public life.
According to a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group, and the United Nations Population Division, mothers dying during pregnancy, childbirth or within 6 weeks after birth (known as maternal mortality), has fallen by 44% since 1990. These types of deaths around the world dropped from about 532,000 in 1990 to an estimated 303,000 this year but need to start falling much more quickly to reach global targets Still, it’s significant progress.
24.4 million more women and girls are using modern methods of voluntary contraception in the world’s poorest countries, according to a new report released by Family Planning 2020, a global partnership that supports the rights of women and girls to decide—freely and for themselves—whether, when and how many children they want to have. From July 2014 through July 2015 alone, 80 million unintended pregnancies, 26.8 million unsafe abortions and 111,000 maternal deaths have been avoided.
For International Day of the Girl on October 11th, promoting awareness for gender equality around the world, United States First Lady Michelle Obama promoted her “Let Girls Learn” campaign, which aims to expand access to education for more than 62 million girls globally, and encouraged American girls to take advantage of their opportunities. At a gathering in NYC, she told 1,100 students: “There is no boy at this age that is cute enough or interesting enough to stop you from getting your education.”
Further paving the way for more girls to receive an education, 2015 saw the global release of the documentary, He Named Me Malala, directed by Davis Guggenheim. He Named Me Malala has helped the teen Nobel Peace Prize winner share her work on the rights to education for children everywhere, especially girls. The film was just released onto DVD and streaming services.
In 2015, reported polio cases have dropped by two-thirds compared to this time last year. Overall, polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988. This crippling disease is completely preventable, and we are so close to having it disappear from the whole planet. Polio remains a problem in just three countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria. On July 24 of this year, thanks to committed organizations, health workers, and supporters like you, Nigeria reached the one-year mark with no new cases of polio. Until it is gone, polio remains a threat but what progress we’ve made!
Millions of women need more information about what’s happening during pregnancy and how to better care for themselves and their child. The widespread availability of mobile technology is an exceptional opportunity to expand services to the population. Mobile health, or mHealth, is the use of texts, data, recorded voice calls, and smartphone apps to transmit health-related information or even direct care. By using weekly messages, information can reach moms, dads, mothers-in-law and other interested people around the world to share vital health knowledge for expecting mothers. In addition, but texting during an immediate crisis, we can donate money to help, like during the Nepal Earthquake. Together, using our phones, we can help change the world.
Take Action Challenge
Share one of these stories, or this article, on your social media accounts and celebrate 2015 as a year of amazing progress for mothers and children everywhere!