Notes from The New Yorker: White Ribbon Alliance and Important Women

Good morning, readers, and Happy Columbus Day! Over the weekend, I indulged in an old-fashioned practice to satisfy my weekend reading appetite at a local newsstand. I bought a paper copy—yes, a paper copy—of this week’s edition of The New Yorker. A Talk of the Town article, written by Rebecca Mead, caught my attention as it gave details of a recent dinner event in New York City, The Important Dinner for Women, to raise awareness about child mortality and maternal health. You can read more about and see photos of the event on the Huffington Post website: As the title of the event suggests, there were many Important Women in attendance hosted by Queen Rania of Jordan, Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, and Wendi Murdoch, wife of Rupert Murdoch.  My eyes, however, were fixated not only upon the impressive guest list; I also recognized the organization that was featured: the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRA). During the summer, I received an email from Carol McLaughlin, our research director for global public health, in which she had mentioned this organization. Carol’s research focus over the next several months will involve maternal health and child mortality. Why? Here are a few facts from the WRA Fact Sheet:

  • Each year more than 536,000 women die due to pregnancy and childbirth complications, such as uncontrolled bleeding, obstructed labor, infection, and high blood pressure.
  • Women in developing countries, such as Africa, have a 1 in 7 lifetime risk of dying in pregnancy and childbirth, compared to women in the United States where the lifetime risk is 1 in 4,800.
  • Millennium Development Goal 5: Improve maternal health has made the least progress to:
    • a) Reduce the maternal mortality ratio by 75%
    • b) Achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015

These facts may be hard to visualize, especially by only reading them on this blog, or in a pdf document on a website. However, organizations like the White Ribbon Alliance and high profile events like the Important Dinner for Women serve to generate public interest about how to help women and mothers in need of reproductive health care. If you are an interested donor or philanthropist with $1 million dollars to give, who may not be able to design a mother and daughter collection for the cause (a la Diane von Furstenburg) or put the muscle behind a Louis Vuitton, designer bag auction (a la Naomi Campbell), perhaps Carol McLaughlin and the Center for High Impact Philanthropy’s research can provide you with more practical information and resources on nonprofit organizations like White Ribbon to help make a difference. Note: The White Ribbon Alliance can also be found on facebook, where you can “Become a Fan”, as well as on You can also follow their events, activities, and updates on twitter: @WRAglobal. Queen Rania of Jordan and Sarah Brown, wife of Prime Minister Gordon Brown (also in attendance at the Important Dinner for Women), are also on twitter: @QueenRania and @SarahBrown10, respectively.