This post is part of the Global Mom Relay. Every time you share this blog, $5 will go to women and girls around the world. Scroll to the bottom to find out more.
Working for the United Nations Foundation, I have traveled all over the world. I have seen war-torn societies, the most marginalized of communities, and emerging economies desperately climbing out of poverty. Nothing will make you appreciate the United States more than traveling to any of these places. I remember returning from two years in the Peace Corps and wanting to hug the U.S. immigration officer for letting me come home after he stamped my passport. I am a patriot. We live in a blessed society where prosperity abounds. Yet when the lives of our children are endangered despite all of our advanced infrastructure, I quickly become concerned at home, not just abroad. The school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, shocked the nation and gave us pause on the reality of our children's safety.
In the U.S, we have access to health care for our children, we have rights as women, and we have laws that keep us safe. While I am a proud citizen, I am also a new parent, and I have started to worry more about what I am seeing in our country -- or frankly, what I am not seeing. Has being blessed with prosperity, technology, and stability made us lazy and privileged to the point of dangerous? Are our health care, rights, and safety in jeopardy due to our own lapse in judgment as mothers, citizens, and voters?
When our children's lives are being threatened at home and around the world, we as parents and citizens need to take action. Let's take health. Vaccines are a proven safe and cost effective tool to provide children the foundation they need to thrive beyond five years old. I have seen children with broken legs from polio in India and horrid measles outbreaks in Nigeria. I have watched women walk miles, even days, with children on their backs to receive life-saving vaccines from the UN in Africa and Latin America -- yet here we are debating the necessity of vaccines in the U.S. Aren't we lucky to pay a $10 co-pay and drive 10 minutes to get the critical prevention our children need? In the last few years for the first time in 15 years, there have been significant measles outbreaks among children in the U.S. The danger here is not only for those children whose parents choose to not vaccinate, but also the other kids, yours or mine, sitting next to them in class.
How about women's rights? We are ranked 92nd in the world for women elected in our lower legislative body, with currently only 18 percent in Congress overall. There were four men, and no women, testifying last year at one hearing on Capitol Hill regarding women's reproductive health. Really?! Unless one of the men has used a maxi pad or given birth in his life -- they shouldn't have been there. We as women should be pursuing leadership roles. We should not sit complacent in our homes -- we should run for office, vote, and write our members of Congress. Our rights as women will affect not only our communities, businesses and health -- but they have the power to impact generations to come.
Lastly, safety. I have an 18-month-old. She is the light of my being. As I mentioned earlier, I love being an American. I'm a Texan, an outdoorswoman and a hunter, though not a good one. But if you told me I had to give up some rights or change some laws so that my daughter could safely go to school, attend church, or walk home -- I would do it. In fact, I would hand over anything and everything in my possession to keep her safe. We have to, as parents, engage in this gun debate and ask our leaders to be flexible, reasonable and constructive. We can't hide behind the Second Amendment, but instead we have to understand what it means in a new society where our children and their safety are our number one priority.
Right now, I am a part of the Global Mom Relay. It is a conversation between thousands of moms on these topics. Go and share your ideas on the wellbeing of mothers and children everywhere. We live in a blessed society. We should all be proud to be United States citizens, and to honor that privilege we need to fight complacency. Being lazy on these issues will make us a dangerous society. Let's stand up for health, women's rights and the safety of our children.
This post originally appeared on 1SimpleChange.com.
Each time you share this Global Mom Relay piece on Facebook, Twitter, or Email, or donate $5 or more through clicking on the above graphic, a $5 donation (up to $62,500 per week or $125,000 every two weeks) will be donated by Johnson & Johnson and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. Join us by sharing it forward and unlock the potential for women and children around the globe. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org/