The Modification in Mother-Baby Statistics Initiative's (MIMSI) inaugural fundraiser marked the official launch of the organization's work which is dedicated to promoting maternal-child health around the globe. With a mission to "reduce maternal morbidity and mortality through the introduction of technology and transportation to enable women from remote areas to gain access to healthcare facilities," MIMSI's arrival seemed to herald the current worldwide focus on women's rights -- most notably the signing of the reauthorized Violence Against Woman Act by President Barack Obama this month.
Held at the Waldorf Towers in New York City, the intimate event was a diverse mix of New York's international philanthropic community. Doctors, lawyers, financiers, writers, entrepreneurs, artists and academics gathered together in support of MIMSI and its founder and driving force, Dr. Winfred Tovar. One highlight of the event was the viewing of a trailer for Deliver Us, a documentary currently in development to raise awareness about the medical and social challenges faced by the women MIMSI is committed to supporting. The following is my interview with Dr. Tovar.
In the words of your heart, what is MIMSI? What is its purpose?
Dr. Tovar: MIMSI seeks to use mobile technology to deliver prenatal services to women who have no access to care, thereby saving their lives and the lives of their babies. It is an Ode to Ma...my contribution, my way of paying homage to moms everywhere who embody the intention to love and nurture their children.
My mother played an essential role in my life. I cannot imagine what life would have been like if she had not been there. To lose your mother before ever knowing she was there is the greatest loss for any child because it is so important that they be loved, nurtured, protected and cherished until they can make their way in the world.
How has your work as an OB/GYN informed your views on motherhood?
Dr. Tovar: It is abundantly clear that we are representations of our parents, specifically our mothers due to the bond that is created during the nine months of pregnancy. This is a sacred and amazing bond. A mother's love and protective nature starts at conception. From the moment a woman misses her period and faces the prospect that she may be pregnant, she is transformed -- her connection to her unborn child is a function of possibility and she begins to express herself in a completely different way. This is a sacred bond worth protecting.
What inspired you to begin MIMSI?
Dr. Tovar: MIMSI is a response to the social, economic and personal circumstances that certain women may find themselves in that prevent them from expressing the virtues of motherhood. I am a supporter for women being empowered and part of this is helping women be there for their children. MIMSI serves as a practical vehicle to allow women to transcend their circumstances and be able to develop and maintain this bond despite poverty and other forms of adversity.
What are the individual and collective impacts of MIMSI's work?
Dr. Tovar: MIMSI addresses the lack of power women feel in their own communities. The initial impact is to convey to women just how important they are to society and to support them in realizing that they are the foundation for humanity to exist and for our civilization continuing.
I honestly believe if this message gets out the impact on men will be to inspire them to realize that women are not commodities to be used, to be abused and to be manipulated as pawns in a grander world of politics, economics and warfare. These are individuals who are essential for the creation of a space where possibility exists.
Men tend to look at the world in black and white. The programming of men is that we have to be the strong ones, to be absolute, to guide and protect. This ethos permeates the world as a binary "yes" or "no" and "do what I say or else..."
The world of women is one of possibilities; so from a woman's perspective the answer [to any given question] might be a "maybe" rather than "yes" or "no." When we recognize women as the embodiment of possibilities, it unleashes the power to create whatever we want.
Why should men and people that do not live in Haiti or other third world countries care about MIMSI?
Dr. Tovar: For so long women have been seen as nonessential to the working of the world. Boys are given the right of education over girls -- this is a global thought process that needs to be shifted. When we make a choice to stand behind women wherever they may be, we are making a choice to stand behind our own ability to create solutions that will benefit mankind rather than to hurt mankind. They represent a world where we can extend kindness, compassion, generosity and forgiveness.
What would you like to say MIMSI has accomplished one year from now?
Dr. Tovar: 1) We intend to have launched MIMSI's work in Haiti with three functional mobile prenatal care units in operation, 2) to have formed partnerships with different NGOs who are on the ground to facilitate and provide obstetrical outreach services and 3) we will have initiated education and training programs so women can begin see this as a permanent project in their communities and begin to take ownership of their own health and wellbeing with MIMSI's support.
How can people support this cause right now?
Dr. Tovar: Please go to indiegogo and view the trailer of the documentary Deliver Us so you can see what we are up to. Your contributions shall save lives and it's all because you care. Now please spread the word!