The White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) is an international organization whose mission is to catalyze and convene advocates who campaign to uphold the right of all women to be safe and healthy before, during and after childbirth. Their organizational goal is to ensure that all women realize their rights to be safe and healthy before, during and after childbirth and their vision is a world where the right of all women to be safe and healthy before, during and after childbirth is upheld.
The White Ribbon Alliance launched in 1999 as an informal coalition of NGOs, donors and their global partners who wanted to generate worldwide attention and make safe motherhood a priority for all. Today, the organization is made up of both individuals and organizations. 13 countries now have national alliances associated with the international group.
With the strong belief that respectful maternity care is a universal human right that is due to every childbearing woman in every health system, in 2011 the WRA introduced the Respectful Maternity Care Charter: the Universal Rights of Childbearing Women.
Since its development, the RMC Charter has been translated into eight languages and is used internationally to address the issue of disrespect and abuse during maternity care. Health care workers are receiving education all around the world, and the RMC Charter is being used as a tool to educate health care workers about maternity care and human rights without making them feel shamed or blamed. There is a wide variety of resources and materials that can be used during this education process. Currently, the RMC Charter is endorsed by the World Health Organization, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, and the International Confederation of Midwives.
Evidence suggests that in countries with high maternal mortality, the fear of disrespect and abuse that women often encounter in facility-based maternity care is a more powerful deterrent to seeking out and utilizing skilled care than commonly recognized barriers such as cost or distance. The work of the White Ribbon Alliance and its allies in helping women during the childbearing year to receive safe care that includes respect for women’s autonomy, dignity, feelings, choices, and preferences, including choice of companionship wherever possible.
Lamaze International's Executive Director Linda Harmon has asked me to put out a call for Lamaze members and LCCEs who are interested in serving in a volunteer capacity as the Lamaze International representative on this global Respectful Maternity Care Council. In particular, volunteering or becoming involved in the WRA may be of interest to our international members who are located around the world. Regardless of your location, if you are interested in learning more about the volunteer opportunity and responsibilities, please direct an email to Linda so that she may be in touch about potential involvement.
You can learn more about the White Ribbon Alliance, its programs, research and results on their informative webpage.