Here are excerpts of an Op-Ed Piece that Bread advocate Elaine VanCleave wrote in the Nashville-based newspaper The Tennessean.
|CARE provided some information for this Op-Ed|
Celebrate mothers around the world
With Mother’s Day only days away, I find myself reflecting on my own experience as a mother and the challenges and opportunities my daughters face as they begin families of their own. I gave birth to three beautiful, healthy daughters, who are now strong, empowered women. During my pregnancies, I had access to prenatal care and nutritious food. My girls were able to go to school and to follow their dreams.
I know all too well that not all mothers are so lucky. In many places in the developing world, women are not empowered to take control of their health or finances. Many struggle to provide basic necessities for their children. Young girls are forced to get married and have children before their bodies are physically ready.
Sixty-six percent of girls in Bangladesh are married before their 18th birthday, and over one third of girls are married before they are 15, according to UNICEF. Many of these girls have children shortly after marriage, before their bodies are fully developed to support a healthy pregnancy. The organization also found that girls ages 10-14 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than those ages 20-24. In addition to the health risks to the mother, infants who are born to young mothers are more vulnerable to malnourishment and as a result, often suffer from stunting, a measure of the shortfall in a child’s growth due to malnutrition.
But innovative programs are changing the future for some of the world’s poorest women and girls. Programs funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) are making a difference. Read Full Op-Ed