THE BLOG

5 Qualities of an Inspiring Woman, in Honor of International Women's Day

02/26/2015 11:23 am ET | Updated Apr 28, 2015
Mark Tuschman/Johnson & Johnson

Each International Women's Day, the global community pauses to reflect on women who inspire. Sometimes these women are famous, sometimes they are historical -- but just as often they are seemingly regular women you've never read about in a newspaper or text book.

On a recent field visit with Save the Children in Uganda, I was inspired by Eva and Damalie, two midwives who face incredible challenges, yet still dedicate themselves to helping others. As I reflected on my time spent with these women, it occurred to me that no matter the country or circumstance, women who inspire share five common traits.

1. They have purpose. Even facing incredible challenges, inspiring women forge ahead with the confidence that they are making a difference.

On a sunny morning at the Nakaseke District Hospital in Uganda, I met a midwife named Eva. On the day that I arrived, the hospital had not had running water or electricity for two weeks. This is all too common in Uganda, where the infant mortality rate is 44 deaths per 1,000 live births. Even without those basic necessities, Eva arrived every morning full of hope that more women would come to the hospital to deliver their babies.

2. They believe in what they are doing. Women like Eva are not afraid to challenge the status quo, even at personal or professional risk.

That morning, as Eva and I stood by a bedside admiring a mom with her new baby Michael, she revealed that the baby had been in trouble during his birth the night before. Following a long and difficult labor, he emerged quietly, not breathing. The physician sadly shook his head, believing the baby was dead. Eva stressed that the baby was alive and began using the skills to revive a baby that she learned in Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) training provided by Save the Children, the American Academy of Pediatrics USAID and Johnson & Johnson.

Earlier that morning, Eva proudly pulled the doctor into the maternity ward to see healthy baby Michael breastfeeding.

3. They have empathy. They feel an obligation to help others.

Damalie Mwogererwa is a Ugandan midwife who always wears a wide smile on her face. She reminisced about a decade of working in the delivery room without adequate equipment or knowledge to save the lives of mothers and babies. "We didn't even know that we could do something else," she said, "I felt like I was delivering babies to die."

4. They encourage others. Both Eva and Damalie love sharing knowledge with other midwives.

After learning the newborn resuscitation skills in HBB, Damalie enthusiastically began training other midwives. "I want to train other people so that we build the capacity... and we cause change."

In addition to training others, Damalie and Eva motivate their colleagues by example. "We had many neonatal deaths" before the HBB training Eva explained. "Since I've resuscitated many and I've seen them surviving, I'm so confident when doing it." That confidence is infectious and motivates her colleagues to believe that change is possible.

5. They think big. Inspiring women aren't discouraged by how things are now. They have a vision for the future.

In Damalie's words, "We can change the trend of newborn death in Uganda."

With each newborn saved and each midwife trained, Eva and Damalie inspire those around them to work for a brighter future. And I'm no exception. This International Women's Day and every day, I am inspired to improve the lives of mothers and children.

Editor's Note: Johnson & Johnson is a sponsor of The Huffington Post's Global Motherhood section.