Everywhere I go, people ask me how they can help.
Fighting big issues like hunger and poverty, and working to save women's lives can be overwhelming. Where do you start?
What if we started by thinking about helping one woman give birth in a clean, safe health facility or ensuring access to contraception? What if one, meaningful action could get us closer to accomplishing these lifesaving goals?
Today is International Women's Day, a day to acknowledge and celebrate the women of the world; but, also, to recognize that we have a lot of work ahead of us to improve the health and lives of women, especially in the poorest countries. In partnership with Threadless and CARE, we're launching a T-shirt design challenge to inspire and engage us all to act on behalf of women in the developing world and to spread awareness of how important maternal health care is to the lives of women in the poorest communities. It's one way you can help.
You don't have to be a professional designer or artist. If you have an idea for an inspiring image or just a simple message, we want to see it.
Once the winning design is chosen, we'll sell the T-shirts online. 100 percent of the proceeds will go to CARE, one of our incredible partners working on the ground to save women's lives. The money will help to fund their maternal health work, to make pregnancy and childbirth safer for women.
I'm talking about helping women like Eliza. I'll never forget meeting Eliza at the Nassa Health Center in Tanzania. She was about to give birth to her fourth child and had walked six hours, after being in labor for two days, because there was no health care facility close to her home. Eliza was desperate to make sure her fourth baby would be born healthy.
I also remember sitting on the floor with about 40 pregnant women in Malawi, at the Dowa hospital. Why were they on the floor? These women arrive at Dowa Hospital up to four weeks before they are due to give birth because their villages are far away and transportation is lacking. They sit and wait so that they'll ensure they have access to care and do their best to avoid complications -- or even death -- from birthing at home.
Women around the world go to great lengths to make sure they have a healthy baby. They are willing to walk for miles or sit on the floor for weeks in a hospital, waiting.
So, will you join us? Will you design or purchase a T-shirt to make a difference in women's lives? The question now is not how can you help, but will you?
Follow Melinda Gates on Twitter: www.twitter.com/melindagates