After a difficult and potentially fatal childbirth, Christy Turlington Burns was moved to learn about the global crisis of maternal mortality. Now she's determined to make delivery—and pregnancy—safe for all expectant moms. In honor of World Humanitarian Day (today!), we're giving you a peek at an excerpt from her feature in our September issue, on newsstands and available for digital download now.
This year, model and activist Christy Turlington Burns had the pleasure of seeing two distinct ambitions coalesce. After she reprised her role as the face of Eternity Calvin Klein, a campaign she first shot 25 years ago, the fashion house launched a global philanthropic initiative and selected Turlington Burns's charity, Every Mother Counts, to be its first recipient. "When I started working with [Calvin Klein] again, they asked how they could contribute to my cause," she says of the organization she created in 2010 to combat the plight of maternal deaths worldwide. The Eternity Project, the foundation arm of Calvin Klein, donated $30,000 to EMC, whose objective is deeply personal to the supermodel mother (she has two children, Grace, 11, and Finn, 8, with actor Edward Burns). Turlington Burns explains why the charity—which has impacted the lives of over 43,355 mothers, children, and health-care workers—is so important to her:
Eleven years ago I started to hemorrhage due to a retained placenta after delivering my daughter. Before that moment I didn't know that hundreds of thousands of girls and women die every year from events like the one I survived. Grace's birth was a rebirth for me—I have never looked at the world the same way.
Pregnancy should be a safe experience for every mother. The main focus of EMC is education, supplies, and transportation. Transportation is so critical. Women won't go [to a hospital or clinic] if they can't get there. So we make it easier for them. We provide transportation vouchers, for instance, in Uganda, for three prenatal checkups, the delivery, and a postnatal checkup.
There are two things I wish everyone knew. One: A woman dies every two minutes bringing life into the world. And two: Ninety percent of these deaths are preventable with treatments and medicines that are widely available. We don't need to invent anything to save these lives—we just need to make it a priority to save them.
Want to get involved? Here's how:
1. Run: Earn 25 cents for every mile you run (or walk) for EMC through its partnership with Charity Miles. Download the app and learn more at charitymiles.org.
2. Send in your old phone: Hope Phones, an EMC partner, will recondition and supply a mobile to a health worker in the field. Print a prepaid shipping label at hopephones.org.
3. Donate: Just $5 funds a woman's ride to a health facility in Uganda; $50 pays for a prenatal visit for an uninsured woman in the States. Go to everymothercounts.org to find out how your money can help.
Check out the trailer below for Turlington Burns's film No Woman, No Cry, a documentary that tells the personal stories of pregnant women and their caretakers in four different countries as they try to avoid the barriers of maternal health, and download the full film on the iTunes store. For more information on Every Mother Counts, visit everymothercounts.org.
For Christy Turlington's full feature, pick up the September issue of InStyle, on newsstands and available for digital download now.