About Global Force for Healing
Approximately 303,000 women per year, one woman every two minutes, die around the world as a result of complications during pregnancy and childbirth. 98% of these deaths are preventable.
An additional 2.7 million newborns die within the first month of life of causes that are also largely preventable. The reason is a lack of access to quality care that is skilled, culturally appropriate, affordable, and infused with kindness and love. Women too often travel far distances and risk their lives to receive care from practitioners that do not speak their language or respect their traditions, lack basic supplies, and/or deliver in overcrowded conditions where they do not receive loving attention.
These community-based organizations have demonstrated their effectiveness at preventing maternal and newborn deaths using compassionate, culturally appropriate models of skilled care. They need resources and support to scale their work to provide more women, babies, and communities with life-saving services so that eventually all maternal and newborn deaths and disabilities will be eliminated. Their communities will have thriving, healthy babies and mothers who actively contribute to local wellbeing.
At the same time, small grassroots organizations around the world are currently providing trained, loving, respectful care in partnership with communities that respect their unique needs and cultural wisdom, and are often led by local women.
Global Force For Healing envisions a world where all women have access to quality, women-centered care regardless of where they live, their level of education, or financial status. In this world, all babies are welcomed with love, all mothers are treated with compassion and respect, and all communities are supported to be healthy and thrive.
Credit: Helen Golden
The mission of Global Force for Healing is to end preventable maternal and newborn deaths by supporting the scaling of effective community-based, culturally respectful care and related education in underserved areas around the globe. We are committed to nurturing programs that provide access to quality childbirth and health-related education and services marked by compassion and a commitment to mothers’ “voice and choice” in childbirth and reproductive health decisions. The grassroots programs work in partnership with local communities, are responsive to their needs, and trust in their wisdom.
Nearly half of our 16 Partners have been first responders to critical mamababy needs following natural and human disasters--earthquakes, tsunami, typhoons, hurricanes, and refugee camps of 500,000 people each in northern Uganda and southern Bangladesh. Lacking the financial means to move or support themselves after disasters, the humanitarian efforts from our teams of dedicated health professionals have made the critical difference.
The Compassionate Birth Network we convene is designed to amplify the individual and collective impact of community-based partners through information and resource sharing, joint advocacy and resource mobilization, and direct capacity-building support to help ensure sustainability. Our goal is to support and grow the cadre of these organizations, to eventually saturate the globe with models of compassionate care that eliminate preventable maternal and infant deaths and disabilities, and give mamas and babies the level of respectful care they deserve.
Statement on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA)
Global Force for Healing (GFH) is committed to realizing a just, equitable world for all birthing people, families and communities through our programming, advocacy, and relationships with communities in the Compassionate Birth Network. The principles embedded in the name “IDEA” are central to our mission, vision, and culture. They anchor us, and we are accountable to them when devising and implementing strategy, and in our daily actions.
Inclusion: All feel welcomed and valued
Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, represented, supported, and valued to fully participate.
Diversity: All the ways we differ
Diversity includes all of the ways in which people differ, encompassing the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. While diversity is often used in reference to race, ethnicity, and gender, we embrace a broader definition that also includes age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, physical appearance, geography, cultural practices and any other identifiers that make one individual or group different from another.
Equity: All having the opportunity to fully participate
Equity encompasses the policies and practices used to ensure just treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time trying to identify and eliminate barriers that have historically prevented the full participation of some individuals or groups.
Access: Of any and all abilities
Access refers to the process of ensuring that all people can acquire the goods and services they need to thrive and are not excluded based on their identities. This includes maternal and newborn health services.
In centering IDEA, our current organizational goals are to:
1. Actively work to diversify our board and develop a succession plan for GFH to better reflect the community-led programs in our Compassionate Birth Network, and come closer to the “ideal state” ecosystem (Diversity); (see Ecosystem diagram)
2. Expand our role in ensuring access to respectful, culturally sensitive maternity and newborn care during the childbearing years; to ensure universal “voice and choice” over sexual and reproductive health decisions (Access);
3. Support local leadership and the organizational sustainability of all Compassionate Birth Network partners, in order to nurture the wellbeing of their staff, with sufficient infrastructure and finances to thrive (Equity);
4. Model equitable distribution of funding for midwifery centers and sexual & reproductive health programs, with minimal restrictions and simple procedures; Nurture people-centered programs whose priorities are determined by communities and the partners themselves. In so doing we are helping to dismantle inequitable systems based on legacies of colonialism, imperialism and other oppressive systems (Inclusion, Access, Equity);
5. Continue to play an active role in movement-building and advocacy for birth justice and the human rights of mothers and babies, exemplified by a model of accompaniment (wherein we walk alongside network partners, offering shared access to resources and expertise) and by our investments in two collaborative publications, “Funding Equity” (2019) and “From Silos to Synergy” (2021); Foster donor engagement and cultivate a vibrant learning community in our role as intermediary and network convener (Inclusion).
Key Terms found in From Silos to Synergy (2021)
Human rights-based approach to maternal and newborn wellbeing:
The universal human rights of birthing parents and infants, based on international standards and treaties that promote and protect their rights
The assurance of the conditions of optimal births for all people with a willingness to address racial and social inequities in a sustained effort.
-Joia Crear-Perry, MD
National Birth Equity Collaborative
The birth justice framework advocates for the elimination of legal and economic barriers so all can have access to the care of a midwife or birthworker(s) of their choice. Birth justice includes access to health care during the childbearing years that is holistic, humanistic, and culturally centered, across the pregnancy spectrum.
Honoring and trusting the wisdom of those who live and dream in their respective communities to make their own informed choices that are equally valid and deserving of respect. Cultural humility is founded on deep listening to other culture groups or people and self-awareness of one’s own cultural background and how it shapes perceptions of the world and access to power.
For a fuller discussion of these and other key terms, consult Funding Equity (2019).
We are grateful to the INDIANA COMMISSION ON THE ARTS for their resources on Inclusion Diversity Equity and Access. More can be found at:
Our Guiding Principles
We believe that love—particularly at this time in the history of our planet—is a primary force for healing, transformation, and sustainability.
We believe that each person consciously sharing and acting upon her/his unique and precious gifts becomes a force for healing.
We believe that trust—the ability to fully rely on a person’s actions and words—is integral to our work.
We believe that transparency—honesty and openness in all interactions—is key to our effectiveness.
Credit: Helen Golden
We believe that even-handedness—treating all people with respect, equality and fairness—is integral to our work.
We believe in the power of true partnership and collaboration.
We believe that generosity—a spirit of loving kindness—is integral to our work.
We believe that diversity and inclusion—honoring the unique qualities of each person and celebrating differences—are basic to creativity and excellence.
We believe that mutual respect—seeing and treating others as we would wish to be seen and treated—is basic to a peaceful world and to our mission.
We envision the Global Force for Healing as a learning organization, which is open to the ideas and perspectives of others.
We believe that the way we do our work is as important as what we do, and therefore our programs, structures, and processes embody the principles and values listed above.