Episode 09

Unrecognized and uncounted: Why a legal identity from birth is a universal human right
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Too often, treating women with respect is seen as a luxury. It is not. Violations of human rights during childbirth are all too common in labor wards, hurting women’s chances of surviving pregnancy and childbirth.

This episode of White Ribbon Alliance’s Brave Voices, Bold Actions podcast explores Article 9 of the Respectful Maternity Care Charter, and the right every child has to an identity and nationality from birth.

We start with Samuel Senfuka, who went through an arduous process to prove that he had been born and legally existed while applying for school in Uganda. Then we chat with legal identity expert and TED Talk speaker Kristen Wenz about the role of maternal and child health services in upholding the right to an identity and nationality from birth for all children, everywhere.

Together, we have the power to destroy the structures that harm women during pregnancy and childbirth!

  • How many people around the world don’t have a birth certificate or “legal identity”?
  • What part does gender play in the issue of legal identity?
  • Why is it a fundamental human right to have an identity and nationality from birth?

Episode Team:

This episode of Brave Voices, Bold Actions was produced by Diana Copeland, Elena Ateva, Stephanie Bowen, Marissa Ware, Nina Garcia Wright, Kendra Hanna, with support from White Ribbon Alliance Uganda and the entire White Ribbon Alliance team.

Diana Copeland

Senior Communications Officer

Diana Copeland joined White Ribbon Alliance in 2016 as the Communication Coordinator, working to strengthen and disseminate the organization’s message on its website and social media platforms, and was promoted in 2018 to Senior Communications Officer in order to oversee and grow White Ribbon Alliance’s digital and offline presence.
Rt. Hon Helen Clark

Kristen Wenz

Legal Identity Expert

Kristen Wenz is regarded as one of the top global experts on civil registration and legal identity. With 15 years of experience working at the country, regional & global levels, her expertise spans across more than 20 thematic areas including; health, gender, innovations & vulnerable populations. She has served as an advisor to governments, the United Nations, the World Bank as well as Fortune 100 companies and small start-ups.  Kristen is published author and a public speaker at major conferences and events around the world. Her advocacy efforts include a TED talk called What if a single human right could change the world?” which has received more than 1.9 million views. Kristen has a Master’s degree from Columbia University and is a proud native from the State of Vermont. Follow Kristen on Twitter @kristenwenz.


Elena Ateva

Advocacy Manager

Elena Ateva is the Advocacy Manager at White Ribbon Alliance and the Maternal Health lead for the USAID/Health Policy Plus Project. She is responsible for facilitating the work of the Global Respectful Maternity Care Council, leading global advocacy efforts to strengthen the midwifery workforce and providing assistance to WRA National Alliances that campaign to improve reproductive, maternal and newborn health and rights. Elena is an attorney and a human rights advocate who has been involved in the movement for respectful care in her home country, Bulgaria, and throughout Eastern Europe. Prior to joining WRA, Ateva was the Eastern Europe Legal Advocacy Coordinator for the international non-profit Human Rights in Childbirth and later served on the board of the organization. Her work has also focused on prevention of other forms of violence against women, including domestic violence and trafficking in Bulgaria and the United States.


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