International Women’s Day on 8 March—one of mothers2mothers’ (m2m) favourite days of the year. It is a moment to recognise the tremendous resilience, willpower, and collective action of women around the globe. This year, the United Nations’ theme, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” celebrates the incredible efforts by women during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Women make up 70% of the global health workforce, yet hold only 30% of leadership positions in this sector. Furthermore, women contribute $3 trillion to global health care globally, however nearly half of this care is unpaid, according to a Lancet report.
mothers2mothers (m2m) is working to change that. We know that leadership starts from the ground up, and in the communities where we work. The 1,700 women living with HIV employed and paid by m2m as frontline health workers across sub-Saharan Africa—m2m’s Mentor Mothers—demonstrate the power of this leadership every day. Their courage and dedication over the last year to keep the women, children, and families in their communities safe and healthy, even in the midst of a global pandemic, has been nothing short of inspiring.
“Mentor Mothers lead by example by sharing their life experiences with their clients—from motherhood, and finding strength and confidence, to overcoming an HIV diagnosis. Because they personally know what their peers feel, they don’t judge or criticise. I am a leader because I allow myself to be vulnerable and empathetic towards my clients and guide them to a brighter, healthier future. ”—Sarah Polo, an Mentor Mother in Kenya.
Mentor Mothers like Sarah have been at the forefront of the fight against not one, but two pandemics—HIV/AIDS and COVID-19—and have not stopped showing up for their clients to ensure they continue to receive health education and are linked to services, at a time when many vulnerable women, children, and families need that most.
Their efforts are truly appreciated among their clients: “Mentor Mothers are leaders because they show us how to take care of our babies as new mothers. They advise without being judgmental, and they do this with so much humility and kindness.”—Matlhokomelo Selikane, a 26-year-old m2m client from Lesotho.
The pandemic has been a reminder of the essential contribution that women make at all levels. As we rebuild from COVID-19, female leadership will be critical to truly create a healthier, more equitable world. Join us in building and raising the next generation of African female leaders by supporting the work of Mentor Mothers!