The Power of She is a call to women and girls to join together to exercise our collective power. Hand in hand, we can stand together and achieve anything. United we are unstoppable. The women of Every Mother Counts share what they’ve been able to accomplish through the Power of Community.
Clancy, Kristen, and Roma often run the same distances an expectant mother might have to walk to get medical care. As advocates and runners for Every Mother Counts, they use the power of community to provide skilled healthcare to new and soon-to-be moms around the world.
Clancy is EMC’s Director of Special Projects & Production. She joined EMC full time after spending two years working with the organization’s founder, Christy Turlington Burns, researching, filming and co-producing the documentary, No Woman, No Cry.
Kristen discovered EMC after seeing No Woman, No Cry. She was so inspired, she immediately starting volunteering. Six months later, she was going through complications with her second pregnancy but was able to successfully deliver via cesarean. She says the experience “only furthered my resolve to dedicate my life to ensuring that all women have access to the same level of care that I did. Every mother deserves this.”
Roma used to be a professional athlete and was looking for an “outside source of inspiration to give running meaning beyond numbers and time improvements.” When she came across EMC, she knew she’d found it. As a prenatal and postpartum trainer through her company Chitta Wellness, she already supported expecting and new moms locally, but EMC gave her a chance to reach ever further.
Watch their story and read on for more about how these ladies are using their love for running to address the barriers to maternal health at home and around the world.
Q: Clancy, were you a runner before EMC came into your life?
Nope! Never thought in a million years that I would enjoy running let alone run a marathon. It’s been life changing.
Q: EMC has Ambassadors all over the world. How are you able to bring that community together for the greater good of EMC?
Maternal health affects everyone, it’s universal, so that already brings people together. We run for every mother who doesn’t have access and options for safe motherhood, and that’s a pretty powerful unifier. Running has been such an accessible and wonderful way to bring our community together across the country, and the world. It’s a struggle, with ups and downs and challenges, but an accomplishment that provides reassurance that you can succeed in your goals.
Q: You’ve traveled all over the world for EMC. Is there a particular moment where you really felt your work was making a difference?
I feel very fortunate that through filmmaking I’ve been able to share moments with people on the ground working to make effective change. I’ve spent a lot of time in Haiti with the student midwives and graduates from Midwives for Haiti, an organization that Every Mother Counts helps fund, which trains skilled birth attendants who then provide care throughout rural areas. I’ve been with students through schooling and clinical training, by their side driving along bumpy roads to provide prenatal care for women in far reaching places, and at graduation. The joy and sense of accomplishment and purpose at graduation is beautiful to witness.
Q: What does Power Of She mean to you and why are you excited to be a part of this campaign?
The Power of She means teamwork – it means all people, from all backgrounds, coming together to support women. That’s what I love about my work with Every Mother Counts. It’s incredible to know that other people are out there wanting to support and unify as well.
Q: Kristen, EMC raises funds for women who need access to skilled healthcare, and within that is a long distance running component. Tell us more about what those runs symbolize.
Running long distances is very similar to childbirth. You have moments when you aren’t sure you can keep going, but you do. Running long distances requires support, you need people there to ensure you have water and nutrition. Giving birth requires support, you need skilled providers to ensure you and the baby stay stable and the delivery process goes smoothly. In addition, we cover these miles so that mothers do not have to travel such distances to get the care they need. We run so they don’t have to.
Q: In your interview, you mentioned thinking about the women you’re helping during your runs. How have these women inspired you?
Running long distances can be challenging, it’s a game of psychology. I’ve encountered many moments where I wasn’t sure I could go on. But then I’d think about the women that travel miles, on foot, either for prenatal check-ups or while in labor, just to get the care they need. The distance that I can cover with my running, raising funds and awareness for Every Mother Counts, directly impacts those women. Our funding brings care to those women, through mobile clinics, transportation to clinics, or helping to build clinics in rural areas so these mothers don’t have to travel as far. That’s all the motivation I need.
Q: The EMC community bands together to help women, but how have you seen women with limited access to skilled healthcare join together to lift each other up?
When women come together to support each other, there are no limits to what we can do. I see the female leaders of our grantee partners working tirelessly to protect mothers. I see women training to be midwives and doulas so they can hold the hands of mothers and make sure they receive good prenatal care and have safe deliveries. I see the employees at our grantee partner locations telling us stories of mothers that come to their clinics to receive care, and the pride they have in their work is palpable. It is truly an honor to be a part of it.
Q: Roma, in your interview, you said you wanted to give your running “a purpose.” What was it about EMC’s cause that drew you in?
I had just run a race for midwives, when I came across EMC’s mission. It resonated with me as an opportunity to support maternal health outside of my immediate work. As a prenatal and postpartum trainer, I saw first-hand that every woman is affected by pregnancy physically, psychologically, and emotionally. In developed countries we’re often lucky that we have the care we need. In developing countries and even poorer parts of the United States, that’s not a given. Lending a voice to these women through EMC and my running became a logical consequence.
Q: You founded Chitta Wellness to help women during the prenatal and postpartum phase. What inspired you to launch Chitta?
I initially founded Chitta Wellness to help everyone embrace a healthier lifestyle. Then I realized women were often left to their own devices during prenatal and postpartum times. Fit women were advised to rest and relax through pregnancy and were left isolated in the first 6 weeks postpartum. I want women to feel safe while exercising in pregnancy and reap the benefits of exercise for themselves and the baby. Postpartum, I strive to help women get back to where they were, but more importantly, provide them with a community of other moms. Connecting women postpartum has shown to alleviate stress, isolation, postpartum anxiety, and depression. It also helps women forge lifelong friendships in an era where we don’t have the proverbial village that it takes to raise a child.
Q: How have you been able to bring your expertise through Chitta Wellness to EMC?
Running is a communal sport and as such, I bring people together to train for their big goals, like running marathons for EMC. I use my experience as a former pro athlete and my knowledge of sport science and education to coach people to finish their first marathon and various other races on behalf of EMC. Often, the result is way beyond what they imagined they could do. It’s so gratifying and creates this inspiring loop among all of EMC’s runners.
There are many ways you can take action and get involved with Every Mother Counts in your local community. Head to their website to learn more, and read our story from Clancy on how to get support for a cause you believe in.