Healthy Women And Healthy Kids

05/10/2012 09:22 am ET Updated Jul 10, 2012

The Huffington Post's Global Motherhood section joins Mothers Day Every Day, an initiative of the White Ribbon Alliance and CARE, in a countdown to Mother's Day. Pulling together diverse voices, Mothers Day Every Day is raising awareness and calling for greater U.S. leadership to saves the lives of moms and babies globally.

We may not all be mothers, but we all have mothers. Our mothers are caretakers and caregivers, breadwinners and bread-makers, presidents and poets, and advocates and champions of peace. They are heads of households and small business owners. And they have the potential to grow economies, and promote peace and justice around the globe.

I'm thrilled that the global community is really talking about women. Gradually, the world is becoming aware of enormous contributions women around the world make every day to their families, communities, and societies. At the same time, we are becoming better acquainted with the staggering obstacles women in some places need to overcome simply to survive.

A woman dies in childbirth every two minutes; 99 percent of those deaths occur in developing countries and could be prevented if women had access to necessary maternity and basic health care services. Working for the survival of mothers is absolutely essential. Today, the global community is striving to end preventable maternal mortality within a generation. See our infographic to learn more.

As I travel the world, I am struck by the shared values and desires of people globally. We all want a better life for the next generation. We all want kids who are healthy, educated and presented with the chance for a better life.

At USAID, we believe that every child should have the same opportunity to survive and thrive. A 5-year-old in Washington, D.C., or in London, is headed to school; they are learning to read and write, and their personalities are blossoming. Yet every year, 7.6 million children die before their fifth birthday, largely of preventable causes. Most of these deaths could be prevented. We need to protect children from infectious diseases such as malaria and pneumonia with vaccines, bed nets and antibiotics. We have to reduce indoor air pollution. And we have to give pregnant women quality care and nutrition during pregnancy and ensure safe deliveries so that moms are able to begin caring for their babies from their first breath.

We bear a collective responsibility for the survival of the world's children. Today, the U.S. government, India and Ethiopia, along with UNICEF, are mobilizing to end preventable child deaths through the Child Survival: Call to Action. Simple, cost-effective tools enable us to make this goal a reality. In Tanzania and Ethiopia, for example, child mortality has decreased by 28 percent in just the last five years.

Once a child turns 5 years old, his or her likelihood of survival to adulthood increases significantly. That's why we are asking people around the world to share a photo from when they were five on our Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday website and through social media. By working together, we can raise awareness of the need to ensure promising futures for women, as well as the girls and boys they help shepherd toward bright futures.

Carla Koppell is the Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality & Women's Empowerment at the United States Agency for International Development. In that role, she spearheads enhancement of U.S. development assistance efforts to serve and empower women around the world and to ensure that programs are designed and implemented in a gender sensitive manner.