Making Mother's Day Every Day

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.

Three years ago, we came together with friends and colleagues to form an initiative representing various sectors of public life, from politics and academics to the media and entertainment. The common thread that brought us together is that we believe every woman deserves the chance to have a safe pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby. As co-chairs of the White Ribbon Alliance and CARE's Mothers Day Every Day U.S. advocacy initiative, we've added our voices to the existing movement and are urging policymakers to do more for moms and babies everywhere.

As we honor our mothers today, we must make sure that mothers around the world aren't forgotten. We're reminded that today alone, around 1,000 women will needlessly die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths will be in developing countries, and almost all of them are preventable.

Lives can and are being saved. Progress has been made in recent years, but more must be done. Proven and cost-effective measures, like having trained midwives and health workers present at births, or giving an expecting mother a bus token to get to the hospital, are transforming communities. Malaria nets that protect newborns from disease can save thousands. A refurbished mobile phone that sends text alerts to remind a mother to breastfeed can save a life.

As we know from our own families, mothers play an essential role in the physical, social and economic health of their families, communities and nations. Their health before, during and after childbirth is critical to the health and well-being of the child, and to the economic stability of their nations and the global community at large. Children with healthy mothers are more likely to receive immunizations, attend school and grow into healthy, productive members of society.

Empowering mothers -- beginning with a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth -- is the key to improved health, self-sufficiency, economic growth and sustainability. By expanding proven strategies, hundreds of thousands of women and newborns can lead healthy, empowered lives. But it begins with us reminding our policymakers about the woman who cannot remind him herself.

As co-chairs of the White Ribbon Alliance and CARE's Mothers Day Every Day campaign, today, and every day, we wish you a happy Mother's Day.

Donna Shalala and Ann Veneman are co-chairs of the Mothers Day Every Day Advisory Committee. Shalala served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton and has been president of the University of Miami since 2001. Veneman served as Secretary of Agriculture under President George W. Bush and was the Executive Director of UNICEF from 2005 through 2010.