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Women Deliver, an international conference addressing women’s health issues, is currently on in Washington. Among the many stars to be part of the conference is Christy Turlington, who has blogged about the importance of the conference.

“This week, nearly 3,000 people from more than 140 countries are gathering in downtown Washington D.C. as part of the world’s largest international meeting of women’s health and empowerment champions — the Women Deliver Conference,” wrote the model in the Huffington Post. "At this critical time, these passionate and committed advocates are here to deliver a message that sustainable development around the globe can only be achieved if we prevent maternal deaths.

“After the last Women Deliver Conference in 2007, I had my second child, traveled abroad to Peru with CARE as their Advocate for Maternal Health, and set out to make a documentary film about maternal mortality first-hand that hundreds of thousands of women die every year from pregnancy and childbirth complications, making reproductive health problems the leading cause of death worldwide among women ages 15 to 44; yet strikingly, experts estimate that 90% of these are preventable. The impact extends beyond individual lives. In fact each year millions of children are orphaned, and motherless children are twice as likely to die before the age of five. Economies suffer as well, with an estimated $15 billion lost in productivity each year

“Maternal mortality is a crisis without borders. Women die in rural African villages, crowded slums in Bangladesh, and even in hospitals in the U.S. where, according to Amnesty International, a poor woman’s “lifetime risk of maternal [death] is greater than in 40 other countries, including virtually all industrialized nations.” Women die because they cannot access the same simple, effective medical care that saved my life when I began to hemorrhage after the birth of my daughter. One of the most frustrating realities that I discovered is that underlying all of this is the tragic fact that women lack equitable status, rendering them voiceless and powerless. Why should the lives of some women be valued and others not? Such disparities in health care baffle me.

“Fortunately, momentum has been building in recent years. Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown's extraordinary wife, Sarah, stepped into her role as Patron of The White Ribbon Alliance, a 148-country strong coalition committed to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for all women. Advocates gathering for this week’s Women Deliver Conference can take pride in their role in achieving several remarkable milestones in the field of maternal health.

“We are at a critical moment. The G8 Summit is just a few weeks away and maternal and child health is at the center of its agenda. This provides the perfect opportunity for the U.S to build on the momentum of the last few years and help ensure a global commitment that will deliver. I remain cautiously optimistic and hope that our global leaders seize this opportunity to keep this issue where it belongs development agenda, because EVERY MOTHER COUNTS.”

To read Christy’s full blog, click here.

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