Maternal health isn’t exactly what most people consider to be a “sexy” topic and it can be challenging to engage those outside of the sexual and reproductive health community. Stepping up to the challenge, two artists have joined forces using the power of Internet to unite arts and activism. They created MDGFive.com, an online community raising international awareness about Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 which focuses on reducing maternal mortality and achieving universal access to reproductive health services by 2015.
Grammy-winning singer, Maya Azucena, and Emmy-winning filmmaker Lisa Russell, created MDGFive.com to connect artists of various genres from around the world to give voice to communities that are affected by poor maternal health outcomes. MDG 5 is the most behind schedule of the 8 MDGs but there is still time to make noise and affect change. Visitors to the site can create their own videos, submit photos, music and poems, and then mix it up with other international contributors. The site has already received submissions from Rwanda, Pakistan, the Navajo Nation in the United States, and Croatia.
According to Ms. Azucena, the artists involved have been really excited for the opportunity to have their work exposed to the larger community, outside of their local area. It has become a way for areas that are severely affected by maternal mortality and reproductive health care inequities to make a statement with a larger splash.
The ladies launched a preliminary version of the site at the Women Deliver conference in Washington DC this summer and now the official site is up and running. Ms. Azucena discussed the importance of this project in bridging international artists and activists:
The idea is to make a mash-up of artist statements from all around the world facilitating cross-cultural relationships. It represents the oneness of our conversation, as well as our individuality. The site is geared for young people to have a voice in the world community. MDGFive facilitates making this conversation accessible to the broader community, makes the average individual empowered in this conversation, and it’s done in a creative way that’s easy to share.
I love to see artists using social media for social justice, connecting international communities around a common cause. The Internet has vastly opened up roads to communicate with allies so that ideas are shared, stories are told, movements are bolstered. This is a brilliant way to engage people and get people involved who never considered how maternal mortality and reproductive health access directly affects their lives and their future.
Many reproductive health organizations, including UNFPA, Women Deliver, and Ipas, are behind this campaign along with Digital Reality, and Governess Films. Contribute to the movement, go to MDGFive.com and express yourself!