Pro-life? Pro-choice? Pro-Saving women's lives? Here's how we can work together

BlogHer Original Post

Have I told you lately how much I love how smart this community is? Here's what I'm on about: Over the weekend, BlogHer community member Valiens of A Brain Like Mine blogged great questions about the BlogHers Act fundraiser to save women's lives:

"I'm wondering whether the women's health care available in any given country is able to provide birth control in any meaningful way, and I'm wondering what the general attitude and practice is among the providers in the various countries about abortion....I'm also wondering if any of the organizations being supported are specifically political in nature, or in support of, or being supported by, political organizations, and which ones they are, and what their mission statements propose. Again, this could be an important factor regarding donations. Transparency is most desirable.On top of that, I'm willing to say I have some potential donors who would have questions about vaccinations, AIDS treatments, religious involvements...more"

I love Valiens' questions because it gives me an opening to talk more about BlogHer's philosophy for our BlogHers Act fundraiser, and why we chose to work with GlobalGiving to support five projects we deliberately selected with an eye to exactly the issues she raises. Here goes...

First, a quick overview of BlogHer: As you may be aware, BlogHer is a non-partisan organization. Our mission is the same one we wrote at a kitchen table in 2005: To create opportunities for women who write and comment on blogs to gain greater exposure for their writings, opinions and beliefs -- and we find, as Valiens does, that our membership embraces the entire political spectrum. We have pro-life members. We have pro-choice members. We have every permutation of politics under the sun and we love that. This is why we partnered with GlobalGiving on BlogHers Act, our community's initiative to improve the world by harnessing the power of women online (more here). GlobalGiving is key because:

1. GlobalGiving investigates every project to make sure that:
* Their work has significant social impact.
* They have a track record for delivering on promises.
* They are not listed in any terrorist databases.
* Their projects are eligible for international philanthropic donations — so donors in the US receive full tax benefits.
Read more about GlobalGiving's due diligence here:

2. GlobalGiving offers us donors a money-back guarantee that our money will go to helping people via specific projects, not paying for administrative overhead. Read the guarantee here:

Now, on to the five projects we selected as alternatives for donors to pick, using GlobalGiving's (incredibly, may I say thankfully?!) easy-to-use widget. We selected five different projects that we thought would offer all members of the BlogHer community at least one personally comfortable alternative to make a donation that will save women's lives. I can confirm that:

- Each project's organization is independent, not affiliated with a political or religious organization superstructure. I should note, however, that by virtue of placing a priority on the health of women, girls and female infants should be, de facto, considered "political in nature" because of the second-class status women have in these countries. Which is why these women need our help so badly! :) Also, political and religious organizations and organization members are not prohibited from giving to these causes.

- We chose these five projects because of their primary focus on saving women's lives -- including saving the lives of new mothers, their infants and their other children via clinical care and/or education -- as well as their endorsement by GlobalGiving as an organization that is working effectively within these five cultures to empower women with the information they need to survive.

- We recommend that people who do not support contraception in any way shape or form donate to the first project below, a school lunch program for girls in Burkina Faso, where education is equipping women to participate in the developing economy. Where the reproductive health programs listed below mention contraception and sexually transmitted diseases (Afghanistan, Nepal South African), these projects focus on education about using condoms safely, and distributing condoms. Note: While abortion is not a focus of any of these projects, I suspect that this is an alternative some clinics may use to save the life of the mother; This is why I also recommend the first project below for pro-life donors.

In addition to GlobalGiving's comprehensive and clickable list of resources on each project, here's my guided tour:

(1) Noon Meal Improves Girls' Learning in Burkina Faso
The Friends of Burkina Faso (FBF) supports NEEED, a Burkinabe grantmakers organization that enrolls young rural girls in village schools, using funds to purchase a lamb and school materials for students’ first year of schooling. The family assumes responsibility for their children’s education for 5 years of primary school, and 4 years of middle school for those who qualify. Each spring, parents sell the fattened lamb. Proceeds are used to buy school materials and a new lamb for the next year.

Students walk 6 km to attend school from the local village. They have nothing to eat throughout the day. The project will provide a noon meal to students, enhancing their capacity to learn. Also, locally prepared meals will generate local employment.

Potential Long Term Impact
Education is one of the most important means of empowering women with the knowledge, skills and self-confidence necessary to participate fully in the development process. Access to food will increase students' ability to succeed in their studies.

For more information provided directly by the project and a local contact, click here

(2) Empower Women to End HIV/AIDS Stigma, South Africa

South Africa has the unfortunate distinction of the country with the highest HIV-prevalence in the world. Stigma, lack of knowledge about accessing treatment, and gender inequity has left positive women in a precarious position. It’s estimated that of the five million people living with HIV in South Africa, 60% are women. The first step in turning the AIDS crisis around is to educate and empower women in the townships and rural areas through a network of support groups and treatment access.

Positive Women’s Network provides for HIV-positive women by creating support groups in townships; providing counseling; conducting workshops on treatment literacy, reproductive health and nutrition; and creating income generating projects for women.

Potential Long Term Impact
PWN currently manages 15 support groups. Due to their success, urban and rural communities want to start their own groups. Because of PWN, hundreds of women accessed treatment and manage their HIV while learning skills to support their families.

For more information provided directly by the project and a local contact, click here

(3) Ensure Healthcare for 40,000+ Displaced Darfurians
The ongoing conflict in Darfur has forced families to flee their villages. Everyday it becomes harder for them to reach already scarce health facilities when roads and entire regions are cut off. In 2006, the crisis escalated, forcing a rush of new families to seek safety in Zam Zam, a refugee camp in North Darfur. When the camp residents faced imminent closure of their health services, Relief International (non-political, non-sectarian), stepped in to build a permanent clinic run by local medical staff, now serving more than 50,000.

The clinic serves more than 800 patients a week with basic curative and preventive care. RI trains local medical staff and village midwives, distributes essential relief commodities, and immunizes children against diseases.

Potential Long Term Impact
Trained doctors and health workers will be enabled to treat isolated and nomadic populations long after Relief International leaves. Permanent village health facilities will support the people of North Darfur both in crisis and in peace.

For more information provided directly by the project and a local contact, click here

(4) Mother & Child Health Clinic in Rural Nepal
Prior to KFK’s Clinic it was difficult to find a mother who had not lost a child and impossible to find a household without a sick person. Child and Maternal Mortality rates of these communities have been almost two-to-three times higher than the national average. KFK's Mother and Child Health Clinic provides critical medical services to the 7,000 residents of Rasuwa district. In 2006 the Clinic provided over 1,200 patient visits, training sessions, and traveling health care services.

Operating costs of $15,000/yr ($5/day) provides critical care to 7,000 people ($2 per person) * Management of childhood illnesses * Immunications * Antenatal/post natal care * Treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, etc. *

Potential Long Term Impact
The project will provide critical health care to 7,000 villagers in Goljung, Chilime, and Gatlang. These communities suffer from health problems associated with crippling poverty including diarrhea, malnutrition, and acute respiratory illnesses.

For more information provided directly by the project and a local contact, click here

(5) Help Afghan Women Deliver Healthy Babies Safely
An alarming percentage of Afghan women and babies die during pregnancy and delivery. Most women deliver babies at home without the assistance of trained medical staff. CHI/AIL offer lifesaving health services and medical interventions to pregnant women and babies through three rural clinics in Afghanistan, including on-site baby delivery for high-risk cases. CHI/AIL also educate women about their reproductive health so that they can make healthy choices during pregnancy and delivery.

12,000 Afghan women will receive pre- and post-natal care, midwifery, family planning services, education on women’s reproductive health, delivery kits for home delivery, and assessment and intervention for high-risk pregnancies.

Potential Long Term Impact
Thousands of women who would have lost their lives or the lives of their babies during pregnancy and delivery will be saved. Women will learn how to prevent complications during pregnancy and delivery and protect their long-term reproductive health.

For more information provided directly by the project and a local contact, click here

I hope this round-up helps! Already BlogHer has raised more than $1,600 to support these programs, thanks to the blogging efforts of these amazing women:
1. Denise
2. Erin
3. mamikaze
4. kari
5. sparks and butterflies
6. vered
7. karoli
8. Elisa
9. Donna at Global Giving
10. Learn to Duck
11. Notions of Identity
12. Whymommy
13. Catherine
14. SoCalMom
15. Elisa's Green Scene
16. Lisa Stone
17. Writes For Chocolate
18. Christian Feminist
19. Broad-Sheet
20. Because I have to...
21. Colleen
22. Nickie
23...YOU! You're next! Denise Tanton has made it easy. Here's how:

Take Action Now:

1) Grab a button or widget to place on your blog.
2) Share this information with your readers by blogging about maternal health, or this BlogHers Act initiative, or the individual project you're supporting.
3) Leave your link at the bottom of this post, using Mr Linky, so others can hear your thoughts on these issues. (We'll also be featuring many of you on and in our newsletters.)
4) Donate to save women's lives, today.

The widget:

So...what else? What do you think of the information I've provided? What else should we do to raise blogger awareness of this campaign at a time when the tax man cometh and the Wall Street Journal is using the R word (recession)?

I welcome your feedback and any other questions and suggestions. And if you've read this far, thank you for caring about helping as many women as possible, around the world.

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