Simple Minds legend Jim Kerr and luminary folk-rock singer Martha Wainwright have re-invented the iconic 80s hit Promised You A Miracle, to call on world leaders to keep the promises they have made on overseas aid and saving the lives of mothers in poor countries.

The new acoustic version of the 1982 hit single has been recorded for international development agency Oxfam as an appeal to world leaders to prevent the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands of women who die because of complications in pregnancy and childbirth.

Jim Kerr and Martha Wainwright
Jim Kerr and Martha Wainwright

“When Simple Minds were asked to get involved in this campaign I could see the sense in the song because world leaders did make the pledge, they did make the promises, and they have reneged and they’re dragging their feet,” said Kerr.

“I think the most important thing is to act and hold people to their promises… and especially with things that pertain to women and babies because often they are the members of society that have the least voice,” added Wainwright.

40 Years of Broken Promises

In the world’s poorest countries 1000 women die every day from avoidable complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

“This campaign means a lot to me because I’m a new mother myself and I was confronted with some medical issues when I had my baby 6 months ago,” said Wainwright. “He came early and it was very clear that I could have died or my baby could have died without the care that I received.”

The song’s Promises message is part of an Oxfam campaign to draw attention to the 40 years of broken promises by world leaders who are due to meet at the G8 Summit in Canada next month. In 1970, rich countries promised to give 0.7% of their income as aid to help poor countries combat poverty and hire doctors, nurses and teachers. In 2005, after their meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, G8 leaders promised to give an extra $50 billion in aid by 2010 – half of it to Africa. These promises have been broken.

Recalling growing up in Glasgow, Kerr said: “We were always made aware how you had to appreciate the doctors and you had to appreciate the nurses because they were vital. I remember my brothers both being born at home. I am the eldest – I remember it was such a big deal. It was very nervous for everyone involved. It’s too hard to accept; it’s too hard to imagine that a thousand women a day can die giving birth. It’s absolutely unacceptable and it needs to be put right.”

Everyone Can Make a Difference

A video made to accompany the song includes a request to sign Oxfam’s Health and Education For All pledge, which demands that world leaders keep their promises to support health systems in poor countries and to make health care free for pregnant women and children.

Jim and Martha Recording Promised You A Miracle
Jim and Martha Recording Promised You A Miracle

“It’s often difficult for individuals to think how they can make a difference,” said Kerr. “Sometimes it seems too overwhelming but everyone knows that you can put pressure on the politicians, and there are a lot of politicians wanting to make a difference, but they need to be pushed. Get motivated, make your view known. Eventually they have to listen to you. People can make a difference if they take the action at the end of this video.”

Watch the video here, and don’t forget to take the Oxfam pledge for health and education for all.

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