Health as a Human Right
Quality, Equity & Dignity
History & Mission
White Ribbon Alliance formed in 1999 out of the realization that too often the voices of women and families in countries with poor maternal health policies and systems were not being heard and progress was inequitable and unacceptably slow. We set out to do things differently, challenging the power structures that maintain the status quo and reclaiming the rights of all women, by creating a tidal wave of change for every woman, everywhere.
Every day, 830 women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth; every year, 2.7 million babies die during their first 28 days of life and 2.6 million are stillborn. These deaths bring social and economic hardship to individuals, families, communities and countries. Most are preventable.
WRA educates and empowers people around their reproductive, maternal and newborn health and rights, including their right to participate in decisions affecting their healthcare. We simultaneously directly influence decision-makers and support them to respond to citizen demands. Combined, this accelerates progress so that all women and girls realize their right to quality health and well-being.
Through active engagement with a wide range of partners, WRA creates new opportunities to raise citizen voices with global audiences, which reinforces global efforts and bolsters WRA National Alliance campaigns.
- Increased numbers of health care providers available
- Embedded respectful maternity care as the standard of practice
- Pioneered citizen-led accountability efforts
- Supported women and communities to know their rights and demand action
- Supported policy makers to respond to citizens’ demands
- Increased health budgets, leading to availability of emergency services for women and newborns
- Increased focus on quality of care in policy and practice
Together with Bayer and Every Woman Every Child, WRA celebrates self-care campaign successes during a side-event at the 2017 High-Level Political Forum in New York City. From left to right: VOA Health Reporter Linord Moudou; Erica Mann, President Consumer Health Division and Member of the Board of Management, Bayer AG; Betsy McCallon, CEO, White Ribbon Alliance and Arthur Eken from UNFPA.
WRA Malawi National Coordinator, Nancy Kamwendo (far right) is a featured speaker during the 2017 Washington, D.C. launch of the Midwives’ Voices, Midwives’ Realities report, co-authored by WHO, ICM and WRA. The ground-breaking report was the largest global survey to date of midwives and illuminated widespread disrespect, abuse and low-pay for midwives around the world.
It was a packed house at the 3rd Annual Global Citizens’ Dialogue, held inside the 2017 World Health Assembly in Geneva. The yearly event brings together citizens and policy makers at the highest levels and is organized by WRA, IPPF, Save the Children and World Vision who make-up the Citizen-Led Accountability Coalition. Photo by Oliver Hanlan.
WRA Nepal’s Youth Ambassador, Jemie Shrestha, tells her health minister, who is seated next to her, about the challenges she and other young women have experienced around accessing sexual and reproductive health care, at the 3rd Annual Global Citizens’ Dialogue. Photo by Oliver Hanlan.
WRA Nigeria’s Youth Ambassador, Maryam Ahmad, gives remarks at an event launching findings from the High Level Working Group on Health and Human Rights during the 2017 World Health Assembly in Geneva.
WRA amplified voices of midwives as partners at the ICM Triennial Congress in Toronto, June 2017.
WRA’s Citizen Journalist training equips ordinary people with the skills and confidence needed to become advocates, telling theirs and others’ stories in a way that spurs change. We conducted an abridged training for midwives at the ICM Triennial Congress in Toronto, June 2017.
Representatives from the Global Secretariat and nearly all 14 WRA National Alliances attended the July 2017 WRA global meeting where shared best practices, lessons learned and gave input for our 2018-2022 strategic plan.
WRA Uganda citizen journalist, Elman Nsinda (center), speaks to journalists and bloggers during the Social Good Summit Master Class at the 71st UN General Assembly. Nsinda was one of three country-representatives who participated in the international meeting.
RESPECTFUL MATERNITY CARE: By treating new mothers with respect and dignity, midwives and other health workers can improve maternal health outcomes by encouraging more women to seek the qualified care they need
Thank you to our partners
Averting Maternal Death and Disability
Bayer Consumer Care
Bill and Melina Gates Foundation
Center for Reproductive Rights
Every Woman Every Child
FCI Program of MSH
Frontline Health Workers Association
Global Health Advocacy Incubator
Global Health Council
Health Policy Project
International Confederation of Midwives
Maternal Health Task Force
The Palladium Group
Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition
Save the Children
World Health Organization
Chief Executive Officer
As Chief Executive Officer of White Ribbon Alliance, Betsy McCallon is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the organization and developing plans, a dynamic team and resources to deliver it. Betsy joined White Ribbon Alliance in 2004 and has contributed to the growth of the Alliance from a loose network to a driver for global attention and commitments to maternal health and rights with a focus on national advocacy and accountability. She was drawn to the White Ribbon Alliance because of its focus on local solutions to address issues of inequality and the huge potential for change.
Betsy is currently a Board Member and Chair of the NGO Constituency for The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH). She participates in multiple maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health coalitions, where she passionately advocates for citizen participation to accelerate advancements for maternal and newborn health and rights.
Betsy has lived in sub-Saharan Africa and Central America and worked in more than 15 countries. When she’s not working, Betsy spends much of her time outdoors cycling, exploring the city, and watching soccer.
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