There was recently a segment on the Daily Show satirizing the explosion of pink breast cancer awareness products on the market today, with the latest being a pink oil drill bit and a $50,000 donation from a multibillion dollar oil company that releases chemicals directly responsible for breast cancer every single day. Similar to Lydia’s and Elizabeth’s posts on promoting awareness and being ready to partner with certain organizations, this made me think about the role of advocacy in promoting health programs and what true advocacy actually looks like. Is slapping a pink or white ribbon on a backpack, going to a run to support the cause, or celebrating an awareness day once a year truly advocacy?
It is obviously incredibly important to promote awareness of Safe Motherhood and maternal and child health initiatives, but maybe because it is still in the growing stages of promoting wider awareness, we could take a different approach to promoting awareness. We need to capitalize on commitment. Instead of handing out pins to put on backpacks and making Motherhood themed products or having awareness runs, maybe there should be letter writing days and campaigns to ask for political commitment and policy changes. A true advocate should also inform themselves so they can have educated conversations with people informing them about the issues and what they can do to help. True advocates can rally and require that leading organizations in maternal and child health such as UNICEF, USAID use awareness days to bring donors and shareholders together to assess the state of Safe Motherhood and create concrete plans for action.
Having a colored ribbon or a symbol for people to relate to and recognize can be important for gaining recognition for Safe Motherhood and maternal health, but for real change to be made we as true advocates must demand more. We talked in class that it is hard to get traction around this campaign because there is no one easy solution. This is true, but there are hundreds of inexpensive, empirically proven, and practical solutions that can and should be implemented now! Campaigns should be created that attach faces to stories of preventable deaths followed by the simple solution that could have saved a life. This will make the issue a reality for people and the mothers can become the rallying point to create a call for action.