Championing Children Begins With Championing Women

One of the privileges of my role at Save the Children is that I have the honor of working closely with the specialists who run our programs to improve the wellbeing of children and their families. It is their expertise—in education, health, protection, emergency response and more—that enables Save the Children to be a leader on children’s issues and deliver on our promise to reach every last child.

Nearly 100 years ago, our founder Eglantyne Jebb started that promise. Standing up and raising her voice—literally, on the streets of London—Eglantyne advocated for the unique needs of children affected by World War I. There are many Eglantynes around me in our organization today: staff who listen to the unique needs of people in the U.S. and around the world and put all of themselves into making a change. Today, on International Women’s Day, I’m recognizing a couple of the experts who use their knowledge to be champions for women. Because to be a leader on children’s issues, we must be champions of women’s issues.

When emergencies strike, Sarah Butler thinks of the moms. A specialist in emergency nutrition, Sarah is a leader on breastfeeding in emergencies. One of the ways Save the Children protects babies is by supporting their mothers—providing information, resources, safe spaces and more to encourage women in emergencies to breastfeed their babies. In the chaos of a disaster or a refugee camp, food, water and hygiene are unreliable. Breastfeeding their babies is the best thing mothers can do to provide them with fluids, nutrition and immunity support. Not only does breastfeeding ease stress in babies, it avoids the need for formula mixed with contaminated water, which could spread potentially fatal diseases and diarrhea to babies. Sarah loves her job because by helping women in emergencies breastfeed, she is showing them how incredible and resilient their own bodies are.

Brad Kerner had a bright idea about opportunities for girls: As a reproductive health advisor, he had worked in many countries, including those where women’s and girls’ rights were restricted. Along with Save the Children colleagues, Brad developed a program called Choices, which involved kids in the conversation on gender equity.  The curriculum brings 10- to 14-year old boys and girls together to talk about things like their dreams for the future. Brad knows that in order to empower girls to become the women they want to be, the boys and men in their lives need to understand girls’ experiences and ambitions—it  all begins with empathy.

These are just two of the people who make our work possible, and I’m proud that Save the Children is filled with people helping kids by empowering women. Eglantyne Jebb set that example from the start. To celebrate International Women’s Day, I ask you: who are the Eglantynes you see in your work?

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