Empowering women empowers us all

Let’s remember that today, on this International Women’s Day 2012 [MARCH 8], some 1,000 women around the world will die in pregnancy or childbirth, and 99 percent of those deaths will occur in developing countries. We can change this. Together we can change the course of these preventable deaths and create a stronger, healthier, more productive global community.
 

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We know that when a woman is given access to basic, cost-effective and life-saving treatments, not only is her life saved, but she is also empowered to create a stronger tomorrow.
 
Children with healthy mothers are more likely to receive immunizations, attend school and grow into healthy, productive members of society. An investment in maternal and newborn health is an investment in the health and security of a nation and, more largely, the long-term progress and economic stability of communities and countries.
 
As advisers to the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood and CARE’s Mothers Day Every Day U.S. advocacy initiative for safe motherhood, we have added our voices to those of policy experts, writers, media leaders and those in the arts and entertainment industries in a call for more progress. We recognize that while our nation is facing a tough economic situation, a very small fraction of the federal budget goes to global health programs, and these programs are having a very real, proven impact in countless ways. We have living proof of the return on U.S. investments.
 
Melanne Verveer, the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, has said that “investing in women is one of the most powerful tools we have in alleviating poverty and improving global development,” and we whole-heartedly agree.
 
When we travel throughout Africa and beyond, we see first-hand the influence an empowered woman can have on those around her. These brave women have consistently inspired us. We, as Americans, must rise up and meet these women’s courage with policy actions of our own. This is our opportunity to come together and create a stronger tomorrow.

McCurry served as White House press secretary to former President Clinton. Perino held the same position during the George W. Bush administration. Both McCurry and Perino are advisors to the White Ribbon Alliance and CARE’s Mothers Day Every Day initiative.