Yesterday, I had the honor to represent Girls’ Globe at the second annual Moms + Social Good event in New York, hosted by the United Nations Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, The Huffington Post, Baby Center and the 92nd Street Y. This wonderful event, which brought together individuals and organizations from around the world, was all about highlighting the immense power and importance of mothers – those people without whom, none of us would even exist. Moms + Social Good is the culmination of the Global Moms Relay, an initiative which involved 30+ celebrities and community leaders to answer the question “How has a mom changed your world?” Every time these stories are shared, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 (up to $250,000) to support women’s and children’s health and well-being.
The event featured a wide range of speakers from celebrities to philanthropists to activists and advocates, political figures and powerhouse women running companies, NGOs and businesses. U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN, Samantha Power, talked about combining motherhood and a demanding career as well as the situations of mothers she has witnessed around the world, sometimes in incredibly difficult situations. Olivia Wilde, who gave birth to her first-born son Otis only two weeks ago, talked about her experience as a new mother and as one of the lucky ones who do have access to maternal care, safe and assisted labor and healthcare, unlike millions of mothers around the world. Wilde also brought up the huge importance of ensuring that women have the ability to avoid unwanted pregnancies, plan and space their pregnancies, and have access to sexual and reproductive services and information and family planning. Many speakers shared incredibly personal stories of struggles and challenges that they have faced as women and mothers, such as Padma Lakshmi, who discussed dealing with severe endometriosis and her challenges with becoming pregnant – experiences which led her to co-found the Endometriosis Foundation of America; and ABC News Correspondent Amy Robach shared her recent struggles with breast cancer, having just finished her last round of chemo only a few weeks ago.
For me, among the most inspirational speakers of the day was Hlengive Lwandle, Mentor at Mothers2Mothers, who discussed her incredible journey as a woman who tested positive for HIV in 1997, and was determined to not let that ruin her life. Not only did Lwandle go on to have HIV-free children, but she has since become a mentor and an advocate for other women facing a similar situation, aiming to make a difference in the lives of women and children affected by HIV.
Equally inspirational was the performance of SaulPaul, an artist and musician who lost his own mother at the age of 3, and was raised by his grandmother who became a huge influence in his life – and to whom he dedicated his performance and speech. SaulPaul discussed the immense meaning of his grandmother’s love and his mother’s legacy on his own life, and underlined the power of unconditional love has on a child – especially the love of a mother or a mother-figure.
Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped in 2002 at age 14 and held captive by her kidnappers for 9 months. Despite her horrifying experience, Elizabeth has turned her tragedy into strength and has dedicated her life to helping others and doing her very best to ensure that no other child has to ever experience what she went through – and as she was talking about her experience, she also had a powerful message for the kidnapped Nigerian girls: No matter what happens to them, no matter what they go through, their worth and their value can never be taken away from them.
From speaker to speaker and panelist to panelist, one message remained constant: that mothers represent an immense power and resource, and that we are currently not utilizing and tapping into this force the way we should be. Healthy and happy mothers give birth to healthy babies, and raise strong, nurtured families. These happy, healthy and nurtured families in turn change our societies for the better – and build a better future and world for all of us.
Raise your voice for mothers, and join the movement to recognize and celebrate the incredible power and potential that mothers everywhere in the world represent. After all – they are the real superheroes of this world.
- Learn about the Global Moms Challenge
- Take Action – join the Global Moms Community
- Visit Global Moms Relay, read the amazing stories, and help by simply sharing these incredible posts
- Watch some of the amazing panels on +Social Good livestream and check out photos from the event on UN Foundation’s Flickr Stream
- Visit Global Moms Challenge on Facebook and Twitter and join the conversation with #GlobalMoms
Featured image courtesy of Global Moms Challenge