08/14/2013 11:50 am ET Updated Oct 14, 2013

A Midwife's Road to the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nomination Is Paved One Signature at a Time

As a young girl growing up in Uganda, Esther Madudu knew she would dedicate her life to bringing babies into the world. Little did she realize, how her early inspiration to become a midwife would put her on the path to a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for her work exemplifying the dedication of midwives throughout the continent, who are positively impacting the health and well-being of millions of women for whom, childbirth remains a life and death issue.

A midwife for over a decade, Esther Madudu is the face of AMREF's Stand Up for African Mothers campaign. Her nomination for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize is a symbolic expression of the life-affirming capacity of all African midwives. It is a lofty, yet noble goal that will only be accomplished by obtaining 100,000 votes of confidence -- in the form of signatures -- from supporters from around the globe.

In countries like the United States where the availability of basic medical care is often taken for granted by even the most disenfranchised residents, lack of such access is the primary contributor to the devastating maternal mortality statistics in sub-Saharan Africa. According to AMREF:

  • "162,000 mothers die every year due to a lack of simple medical care.
  • 950,000 African children are left motherless each year.
  • 40 percent of African women do not receive prenatal care, and more than half of all deliveries take place at home without medical assistance."

Beyond the harsh reality of orphaned children, these statistics negatively impact the economic stability of entire families, communities and regions. Dr. Teguest Guerma, Director General of AMREF notes, "African women are at the center of the social and economic development chain. The death of a mother while giving birth is a big setback for African society. Through the training of more midwives, AMREF is helping to deliver an immediate, sustainable solution. A healthy Africa needs healthy mothers, and African mothers need African midwives."

The Stand Up for African Mothers campaign aims to train 15,000 midwives by 2015 and contribute to the reduction of maternal deaths. Once trained, a single midwife can provide care for up to 500 women every year including, the safe delivery of 100 babies. To sign the petition to nominate Esther Madudu for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize and for more information visit, or

Interview with Esther Madudu

What inspired you to become a midwife?

My grandmother was a midwife and she performed deliveries in her home. She allowed me to watch a baby being delivered and I asked her, how did she know how to do this -- who taught her? She said it was natural for her -- that she got her knowledge from God. She told me that if I wanted to do the same I must go to school and become a nurse. I knew that to do this it was necessary to get in touch with my passion, get trained and make myself available to do my work. I trained for three years in midwifery school.

What gratification do you receive from your work that allows you to continue?

Seeing mothers coming to health centers to deliver -- babies that are delivered with no complications. I remember the times prior to the center being here when there was no electricity... deliveries were done by candle light and [illumination] from mobile phones. And women did not get proper prenatal care so there were so many preventable deaths from infection or bleeding to death.

How do you feel about your upcoming nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015?

I feel good... of course I am a representative of African midwives... it is a symbolic nomination for all African midwives. Also all of this is contingent on getting 100,000 signatures which will determine our nomination.

How many signatures do you have so far?

So far, we have about 11,000.

How will this nomination impact the work you do?

First of all it will help us reduce maternal mortality in Africa. When 15,000 midwives are trained and deployed all over Africa, many will serve in the rural areas where too many women die of preventable conditions. Midwives are trained to correct preventable situations. When a midwife is trained, she's not only trained to deliver babies, but also to do many other things. They are supposed to treat the mother and stay in touch with her from six weeks of pregnancy onward, they prevent the spread of HIV from mother to child, immunize children, provide referrals to [pregnant women] if there are any complications, they perform minor surgeries such as removing breast abscesses and provide postpartum medical care.

What is your ultimate goal in this campaign and beyond?

We have to continue serving the lives of mothers and babies. And we are calling on the whole world to understand the importance of a midwife in any country. We want to create a future where no mother dies giving birth and where no baby is left motherless. To do this we need 100,000 signatures to build awareness and support. And it is necessary for 15,000 midwives to be trained -- because I need more of me!