Every two minutes around the globe,
a mother dies due to pregnancy-related complications.

Shining a Light on Maternal Mortality

About once every two minutes all around the globe, a mother dies due to pregnancy-related complications. This is a staggering statistic, especially considering that 90% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries and most are preventable with proven, low-cost interventions. Over the last two decades, some countries have succeeded in achieving their Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of reducing their maternal mortality rates by 75%. However, many countries have stagnated in their efforts, and some—even the United States—have seen an increase in maternal deaths1.

Researchers have identified various ways to combat maternal mortality, including providing health workers with appropriate training and technology, reducing early marriage practices, enabling women to better control child spacing, reducing poverty, increasing education, granting citizens access to universal health care and strengthening parental leave policies and domestic violence laws345678. These may seem like broad goals that are difficult to achieve, and affecting such change would require a high degree of social mobilization.

There are several reasons why maternal health has not improved as rapidly as it might, but one critical aspect that we discuss at Mothers Monument is how society addresses maternal health and mortality in the public sphere. Maternal death tends to be a private family matter although it has a profound impact on the community at large. Until we, as a people, in whatever nation we live, learn to speak openly about maternal death, we will never gain the capacity—nor the collective resolve—to unite in action for the benefit of mothers. Change cannot occur if we as a society cannot “see” the need for it in the first place. That is why reducing maternal mortality will require a dramatic shift in how we conceptualize maternal sacrifice.

How do we push this discussion from the private and into the public sphere, then? One way is through art–by the building of monuments dedicated to the legacy of mothers lost in childbirth in order to draw much needed attention to this serious issue.