03/07/2013 10:36 am ET Updated May 07, 2013

Why Moms Matter

Isn't it hard being a mom? My daughter is 18 months old, and I am blown away at the awesome responsibility of motherhood. Stay-at-home moms, working moms, grandmoms, dads who are carrying the weight; this is hard. But, what an awesome job! I think every day about other moms.

We learn a great deal from our moms.

They teach us to support each other. They promote health and happiness. They instill in us the importance of giving back to our communities. And they encourage us to do something meaningful with our lives.

These lessons are a powerful force for good in the world. Now, we're harnessing the power of moms to help families around the world.

Today, a unique group of partners is launching the Global Mom Relay -- an interactive, online conversation over the next 62 days that features moms, celebrities, experts and other voices who will shares stories of motherhood and talk about what we can do to improve the health of mothers and children around the world. Participants lending their voices include Arianna Huffington, Jennifer Lopez and Lynda Lopez.

This is a conversation that needs to take place -- and should be shared far and wide. The statistics tell a sobering story of the challenges facing families in many parts of the world:

  • Medical complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15-19 worldwide;
  • Every 20 seconds, a child dies of vaccine-preventable disease like measles or pneumonia; and
  • Exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires -- the primary means of cooking and heating for nearly 3 billion people in the developing world -- causes over 3.5 million premature deaths annually, with women and young children the most affected.
We can change these numbers and give more families a chance to lead happy, healthy lives. In recent years, the global community has made significant progress in reducing child and maternal deaths.

Each of us can help keep the momentum going.

Through the Global Mom Relay, anyone can take action, share the stories from the relay and support important campaigns that are working to improve the health of moms and children around the world.

And every time you share a story through Facebook, Twitter or email, or donate $5 or more as part of the relay, Johnson & Johnson and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match your action with a $5 donation (up to $8,000 per day) to one of four efforts that are helping to strengthen child and maternal health.

Healthy families promote healthy communities and a healthy world. As our moms taught us, each of us can make a difference for others -- and together, we can build a brighter future for families everywhere.

We hope you will join this important conversation and share it with your moms. To get the conversation started, we want to know: What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?

Elizabeth Gore is the Resident Entrepreneur at the UN Foundation and co-chair of the Global Mom Relay