Episode 10

A Cry for Cleanliness: The Right to Clean Water & Adequate Nutrition During Pregnancy & Childbirth

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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 10 of the Respectful Maternity Care Charter, and the right to adequate nutrition & clean water.
We start with Jacqueline Mwase , who shares what it was like to give birth to a beautiful baby girl, Jacinta, in a health facility in Malawi that lacked access to clean water. Then we chat about the human right to clean water with Dr. Joanne McGriff, research professor at Emory University and senior administrator of Center for Global Safe WASH, where she is currently working on water, sanitation, and hygiene issues in healthcare facilities globally.
Together, we have the power to destroy the structures that harm women during pregnancy and childbirth!


  • NWhat happens when the right to water and nutrition is denied?
  • NWhat is the state of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in health care facilities globally?
  • NWhat is the role of WASH in providing a respectful, dignified birth experience during childbirth?
  • NWhy is it a fundamental human right to have access to adequate nutrition and clean water during and after childbirth?


Episode Team

This episode of Brave Voices, Bold Actions was produced by Diana Copeland, Elena Ateva, Stephanie Bowen, Amanda Livingstone, Nina Garcia Wright, Kendra Hanna, with support from the entire White Ribbon Alliance team. Special thanks to Eya Mwenifumbo-Gondwe from White Ribbon Alliance Malawi for helping Jacqueline Mwase share her story with us.


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.


Dr. Joanne McGriff

Associate Director, Center for Global Safe Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

Joanne A. McGriff, MD, MPH is Assistant Research Professor in the Hubert Department of Global Health at the Rollins School of Public Health and Associate Director of the Center for Global Safe WASH at Emory University. She completed her undergraduate work at Princeton University and earned her MD degree and Masters in Public Health from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (NY). After completing medical school, Dr. McGriff gained expertise in clinical and community-based research by completing a National Research Service Award (NRSA) post-doctoral research fellowship in geriatric psychiatry.

While working with a multidisciplinary team of researchers and clinicians in the Laboratory of Personality and Development at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Dr. McGriff gained instruction and experience in research design, data analysis and managing study logistics.

Early on in her training, she also received an International Medicine Summer Fellowship to conduct medical development work in northern Haiti. A descendent of Haitian parents and fluent in Haitian Creole, this fellowship served as a catalyst to Dr. McGriff’s interest in rural community development and the social and environmental factors in developing countries that impact health. Dr. McGriff went on to complete a masters in public health (MPH) from the University of Rochester Department of Community and Preventive Medicine and has since been active in several community, medical and WASH-related development projects in Haiti. From 2008-2012, Dr. McGriff worked as Executive Director of a non-profit working in rural Haiti. Her work included providing leadership for over 50 clinical and program staff members and management for several US-based programmatic & resource development committees. She was also responsible for overseeing Haitian staff implementing a four-year USAID-PEPFAR grant in HIV prevention in rural Haiti.

Dr. McGriff joined Emory in 2012 and as a research professor and senior administrator of the Center for Global Safe WASH. She is currently working on water, sanitation, and hygiene issues in healthcare facilities globally.


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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