By Jenny Eaton Dyer, PhD
Hope Through Healing Hands is proud to create and lead the Faith-Based Coalition for Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide. We launched the coalition with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to shine a light on the disparity of maternal & child health in developing nations. Moreover, we hope to educate and activate faith leaders and all people of faith to consider the critical importance of healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies as a life-saving mechanism for both moms and their children.
For this Mother’s Day, we have released a compendium of essays, The Mother & Child Project: Raising Our Voices for Health and Hope (2015), with more than 47 voices, including women from Burundi, Kenya, India, and Ethiopia. The book includes stories from leading voices in the evangelical community, including Kay Warren, Amy Grant, Natalie Grant, and Michael W. Smith. Each writes about their experience and perspective on maternal and child health, with an emphasis on healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies.
Michael Gerson, former chief speechwriter for President Bush and current opinion writer for the Washington Post, writes about “Family planning as a pro-life cause.” Bill Frist, MD, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, also writes that “Contraception is a pro-life cause in the developing world.” Over 99% of maternal mortality occurs in the developing world; he explains that we can change this with access to skilled attendants during birth, post-partum care, and education and resources for women and couples to better time and space their children.
Partnership is one of the core values of our faith-based coalition: we are proud to partner with leaders of other organizations that share our commitment to women and children’s health. Many of these leaders have also contributed their voices to the Mother & Child Project book. As a co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates has championed providing women and girls with the education and tools they need to time and space their births, so they are healthier, their children are healthier, and entire communities prosper.
Mrs. Gates has noted that the Gates Foundation does not fund abortion, acknowledged the broad and powerful consensus that all women should have the ability to plan their families and their futures, and noted that is where the foundation will continue to focus its efforts.
With the opportunity to take part in saving the lives of millions of mothers and children, we couldn’t be more honored to work with our faith-based coalition leaders and other partners in women and children’s health such as the Gates Foundation to create lasting change for healthier, happier families, communities, and societies around the world.