Your Challenge for International Women”s Day


By Melinda Gates

Everywhere I go, people ask me how they can help. They want to know what they can do to help alleviate hunger and poverty, to stop women from dying during childbirth, and to make sure children grow up healthy. It's incredibly inspiring to know that there are millions of us, around the world, who want to work together to make the world a better place.

Fighting big issues like hunger and poverty, and working to save women's lives can be overwhelming. Where do you start?
What if we started by thinking about helping one woman give birth in a clean, safe health facility or ensuring access to contraception? What if one, meaningful action could get us closer to accomplishing these lifesaving goals?

It can.

Today is International Women's Day, a day to acknowledge and celebrate the women of the world; but, also, to recognize that we have a lot of work ahead of us to improve the health and lives of women, especially in the poorest countries. In partnership with Threadless and CARE, we're launching a T-shirt design contest to inspire and engage us all to act on behalf of women in the developing world; and to spread awareness of how important maternal health care is to the lives of women in the poorest communities of the world. It's one way you can help.

You don't have to be a professional designer or artist. If you have an idea for an inspiring image or just a simple message, I want to see it.
Once the winning design is chosen, we'll sell the T-shirts online. 100 percent of the proceeds will go to CARE, one of our incredible partners working on the ground to save women's lives. The money will help to fund their maternal health work, helping to make pregnancy and childbirth safer for women living in some of the poorest countries in the world.

Take a moment out of your busy day to think about the millions of women who struggle to deliver healthy babies safely. Think about how you can help.
I'm talking about helping women like Eliza. I'll never forget meeting Eliza at the Nassa Health Center in Tanzania. She was about to give birth to her fourth child and had walked six hours, after being in labor for two days, because there was no health care facility close to her home. Eliza was desperate to make sure her fourth baby would be born healthy.

I also remember sitting on the floor with about 40 pregnant women in Malawi, at the Dowa hospital. Why were they on the floor? These women arrive at Dowa hospital up to four weeks before they are due to give birth. They sit and wait so that they'll avoid complications – or even death – from birthing at home.

No woman should have to endure what Eliza or the women I met in Malawi endure. No woman should die in childbirth. It is simply unacceptable. It's why we'll continue to work to improve women's health and lives through access to family planning as well. In July, we'll join forces with the UK government to raise awareness of the unprecedented need for access to contraception for the world's poorest women.

Women around the world go to great lengths to make sure they have a healthy baby. They are willing to walk for miles or sit on the floor for weeks in a hospital, waiting. Are you willing to join our t-shirt design challenge to make a difference in women's lives? If you've wondered how you can help, here's one simple way you can.