Social Media Week in Nigeria this #MaternalMonday is especially inspiring as it allows us to mark the coming together of maternal advocacy and social media. To celebrate, we are highlighting what we have achieved through our social media advocacy and health educational antenatal classes as part of our #MaternalMonday campaign.
#Maternal Monday is a way of highlighting the many issues facing mothers and their children as they embark on a journey through motherhood. Since we launched the #MaternalMonday campaign in 2012, social media has grown to the point where it is almost ever-present in our daily lives. It gives us a unique opportunity to partner with like-minded organisations, institutions and individuals to raise awareness for the improvement of reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH). Equally important is the work we do offline. Without the transfer of knowledge from trained midwives to mothers, advocacy and campaigning can only go so far. This is exactly why we incorporated antenatal training into our #MaternalMonday campaign.
The free-of-charge antenatal classes ensures we can reach everyone, from rural and urban communities to those who have been displaced by conflict in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. Our classes help translate all the progress made online into tangible action offline, empowering women through antenatal education to realise their potential and agency. Although distinct in their platforms, our work online and offline is united by the common theme of 'sharing.' At its heart, #MaternalMonday is all about sharing; it is about mothers and midwives sharing their knowledge, experiences and practices, in pursuit of greater awareness of the issues that matter to them. As a truly accessible platform, social media lends itself to our goal. The #MaternalMonday tag allows anyone anywhere, man or woman, adult or child, to immediately access a wealth of information on any aspect of maternal healthcare. It allows mothers to share their experiences with others, suggest best practices that are culturally relevant, and coordinate with each other to raise awareness.
Mrs Ifeoma Arinze - Mother, and Class attendee:
"The part I love so much is where we are allowed to ask questions. The class allows us to ask questions that some of us cannot gather courage to ask our Doctors. We share experiences with other women and most importantly we are taught what to do in labour."
As a tool, #MaternalMonday represents social media at its best. It celebrates, educates and empowers mothers across the world by supporting them to take control of their maternal health in a way that best suits them. Social media has the power to unlock enormous potential in the dissemination of life-saving knowledge; it acts as a portal for empowerment. However, without action offline, this potential will remain locked for so many mothers.
Mrs Chidinma Ilondu - Mother and Class attendee:
"The class is an eye-opener for women like us who are first timers in this field. You know I ask questions a lot during class."
So during this Social Media Week, we must remember our obligation to take the best of what we have learned online, and make it accessible for everyone. Ensuring that Maternal Monday reaches as many mothers as possible, with or without a hashtag, is critical to providing accessible and reliable healthcare to all.