Emily Watson: ‘Maternity Worldwide needs your support to help save more lives’

Not every birth is a time of comfort and joy. Actress Emily Watson (Chernobyl, Apple Tree Yard) is encouraging people to donate to Maternity Worldwide this Christmas, after first supporting us as her chosen charity on the BBC Radio 4 Appeal in 2018.

Emily says:

‘To me, Christmas means catching up with family and making time to enjoy each other’s company. Too many children in low-income countries will be without their mother this Christmas because of needless deaths in childbirth and the inability to access the standard of medical care we take for granted in the UK. Since 2002, Maternity Worldwide has been working to ensure that every woman, regardless of where she lives, can give birth safely and without fear. I would like to encourage you to donate to the Maternity Worldwide Christmas appeal, and help them continue to save lives in childbirth.’

‘As a mother, I am deeply concerned that in countries like Malawi, Ethiopia and Uganda pregnancy and childbirth are putting women’s lives at risk.’

‘There are still so many women who don’t have facilities close at hand. Maternity Worldwide needs your support to help save more lives.’

Every year 287,000 women die in childbirth. 99% of reported deaths are in low-income countries. Many women die after long, dangerous journeys, trying to give birth in makeshift buildings without the help of a midwife, and with no pain relief, antibiotics or proper sanitation. A modern-day stable in the UK may in fact be a warmer, safer and more comfortable place to deliver a baby than some of the facilities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Most deaths can be avoided easily and cheaply through measures which are readily available in the UK. But good quality healthcare for many of the world’s women is still beyond their financial reach or simply inaccessible because facilities are too far away.

This year, you can buy one of our exclusive Christmas Gift Certificates from our online shop for only £27. Not only will it help women and girls in low-income countries access the high-quality maternal healthcare they need to be able to give birth safely, but it makes a fantastic, sustainable stocking filler.

Maternity Worldwide’s Christmas 2019 Appeal: Meet Mary and Joseph

After a long, hazardous journey over rough terrain, a young mother relies on the kindness of strangers to reach a safe place to deliver her baby. It’s a familiar story enacted in Nativity plays across the UK. But for Mary and Joseph Chimwanza in modern-day Malawi, it was their family’s reality.

When her labour pains started at midnight, Mary Chimwanza had to travel by bicycle rather than on a donkey, but she still faced dangers and harsh weather. Not to mention ‘three wise men’ although these turned out to be members of a Maternity Worldwide sponsored Participatory Learning Action group rather than Magi.

In Mary’s own words:

‘On our way to hospital, we met some people who were coming from the beer hole. We become scared and because of my condition, we decided to face them and explained our story – that we were rushing to the hospital for delivery. The men then decided that to escort us to the health centre. Later in our discussions with the men, we discovered that two of them belonged to the Participatory Learning Action (PLA) group in our village.’

‘My condition become worse when it started to rain and it was cold. One of the men who joined us had a raincoat which he gave me and we had to seek shelter in the nearby village until the rain became less heavy. When the rain stopped, we continued our journey to the hospital where we were assisted quickly and it did not take long before I delivered our baby, Earnest.’

In low-income countries, drawing parallels with the Christmas story is still too easy.

  • At the time of the Nativity, only the very rich sought medical help in childbirth.
    Today in sub-Saharan Africa roughly 50% of mothers give birth without the help of a midwife.
  • Many women still have to travel unacceptable distances on foot in the last stages of pregnancy or are carried over rough roads while in labour.
  • In the Bible, Mary gave birth to Jesus in a stable with no electricity or clean running water.
    Many clinics are still lacking even these basic facilities.

We are working so women and girls in low-income countries can access the high-quality maternal health care they need to be able to give birth safely. We train and employ local midwives so medical intervention during childbirth is available for a woman when she needs it. Our projects aim to to give access to better local healthcare facilities so no woman has to face a painful journey during labour, and we work to provide well-equipped, clean environments where skilled staff can to deliver a baby safely.

Please help us this Christmas

This year, we are asking our generous supporters, if they can, to commit to donating £27 to our Christmas 2019 Appeal. We have chosen this sum because it’s less than 1% of what a typical UK family will spend in the run-up to the festive season.

Please support us to ensure more families like Mary, Joseph and Earnest can enjoy a happy Christmas together.

Choctober is back!

Could you cancel the Cadbury’s for a whole month? Ditch the Dairy Milk and help us save the lives of mothers and their babies.

Our annual Choctober campaign is back! Ask your friends and family to sponsor your chocolate-free month, or alternatively, donate what you would otherwise have spent on sweets.

Whatever you raise will enable us to empower and support women to give birth safely. It costs, on average, just £15 to provide a safe birth and as little as £1 for a course of antibiotics to prevent infection following childbirth.

Together our small efforts can make life-changing differences.

Download your Choctober pack now

Choctober – Sponsorship Form

Choctober – Countdown Calendar

Choctober – Leaflet

To donate the money you have raised or to set up your own Choctober sponsorship page please visit JustGiving.

If you need anything else please don’t hesitate to contact us on [email protected].

Please do Tweet us @maternityww or visit our Facebook page to let us know how you’re getting on and good luck!

Our annual Choctober campaign is back!

Could you cancel the Cadbury’s for a whole month? Ditch the Dairy Milk and help us save the lives of mothers and their babies.

Ask your friends and family to sponsor your chocolate-free month, or alternatively, donate what you would otherwise have spent on sweets.
Whatever you raise will enable us to empower and support women to give birth safely. It costs, on average, just £15 to provide a safe birth and as little as £1 for a course of antibiotics to prevent infection following childbirth.

Together our small efforts can make life-changing differences!

Download a Choctober fundraising pack here

Maternity Worldwide joins the Thriving Together campaign

To mark World Population Day 2019, Maternity Worldwide is pleased to join 150 other leading environmental and reproductive health organisations to pledge support the Thriving Together campaign. Organisations that have signed up to the Thriving Together campaign form a diverse global alliance united by the agreement that improving access to family planning services is critically important for the environment and biodiversity.

Find out more in our blog.

Maternity Worldwide joins the Thriving Together campaign

The Thriving Together campaign recognises that family planning is critically important not only for women and girls but also for the environment.

Maternity Worldwide is pleased to join 150 other leading environmental and reproductive health organisations to pledge support the Thriving Together campaign. Organisations that have signed up to the Thriving Together campaign form a diverse global alliance united by the agreement that improving access to family planning services is critically important for the environment and biodiversity.

The Sustainable Development Goals call for integrated solutions. Maternity Worldwide, along with other organisations backing the Thriving Together campaign agree that whether working in health or environmental conservation, through sharing information and working together on strategic projects and policies, we can help human communities and their ecosystems thrive. Successful biodiversity conservation requires taking people, our health, and our interactions with the natural world into account.

Increasing human pressures are among the many challenges facing planetary health. In addition, by harming ecosystems, people undermine food and water security and human health, and threaten habitats and species. Ensuring family planning is available to all who seek it is among the positive actions organisations must take to lessen these pressures.

The United Nations projects that global population will rise from 7.7 billion today to 9.7 billion by 2050. Future population growth is uncertain however, and highly sensitive to small changes in the average number of children per mother. If the physical, financial, educational, social and religious barriers to people using family planning services were removed and the average number of children per mother was just 0.5 lower than the UN population projection which is most commonly used, global population would peak at 8.9 billion in 2050, rather than 9.7 billion.

This is all possible, by enabling the exercise of a well-recognised human right, that people should be able to decide for themselves, whether, when, how often and with whom to bring children into the world. Family planning contributes to women’s empowerment, improves family and general health, advances education and life opportunities and, by slowing population growth, eases pressures on wildlife and ecosystems.

The Thriving Together campaign is spearheaded by the Margaret Pyke Trust, which has over 50 years’ experience of family planning. David Johnson, Chief Executive at the Margaret Pyke Trust says: “The existence of barriers to family planning is the most important ignored environmental challenge of our day. This changes now. The Thriving Together campaign encourages cross-sectoral support between health and environmental conservation organisations, showcasing that when people can choose freely whether and when to have children it is for the benefit of both people and planet. Barriers to family planning are not only relevant to those who are passionate about improving health, gender equality, empowerment and economic development, but also to those who are passionate about the conservation of biodiversity, the environment and sustainability.”

The Margaret Pyke Trust’s Thriving Together campaign is informed by its paper ‘Removing Barriers to Family Planning, Empowering Sustainable Environmental Conservation’, which sets out how and why family planning is important for the environment. The Thriving Together campaign website www.ThrivingTogether.Global launches today – 11th July 2019.

About Thriving Together:

At the heart of the Thriving Together campaign is the widespread agreement, for the first time, that removal of barriers to family planning are critically important not only for women and girls, but also for environmental conservation and biodiversity. The campaign is the start of the process to change global policy to recognise this. 150 leading environmental and reproductive health organisations working in over 170 countries have declared their support for the campaign, with particular support from African organisations, working in all 54 African nations. The Thriving Together website, statement and paper can be viewed here.

Brighton Marathon 2020: Ten Years’ Running!

Run Brighton Marathon for Maternity Worldwide

When: Sunday 19th April 2020

Where: Brighton

Price: £55

We have a limited number of Brighton Marathon ‘charity partner’ places available for supporters of Maternity Worldwide. Registration is open NOW and costs just £55.

Brighton Marathon is the second largest marathon in the UK. Starting with a loop of gorgeous Preston Park, then taking in the best of the city centre including the Brighton Pavilion and fabulous stretches of coastal road, you’ll be able to take in some spectacular panoramic views where the glorious South Downs meet the English Channel. With its fast, flat course, Brighton Marathon is always a popular event in the running calendar.

Why not run the Brighton Marathon for Maternity Worldwide? We will provide you with one of our sought-after running vests, a fantastic set of enthusiastic cheerers on race day, fundraising pack including social media graphics and badges, and full support from our team. In exchange for an unforgettable day, we ask that you fund-raise at least £400 for us.

What could we achieve with your sponsor money?

  • £15 can provide a safe birth for a mother in Africa.
  • £30 can enable a woman to attend training sessions and receive a small amount of seed funding to begin their own small businesses. By becoming financially independent women are empowered to become the decision makers about their own sexual and reproductive health.
  • £80 can pay for a month’s midwifery training.

The money you raise will go a long way towards helping save the lives of mothers and babies during childbirth.

In a change from previous years, this year all Brighton Marathon participants self-register through Race Roster: simply click here.

No payment is required at this stage. We are notified whenever someone signs up to run for Maternity Worldwide and will then send you an invoice for £55 to complete your registration. You will be given a Race Roster confirmation number on their ‘thank you’ page. Please make a note of it in case of queries.

We don’t manage the Race Roster site so if you have any problems with your registration, please contact [email protected].

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at  [email protected].

Maternity Worldwide – News & Project Updates from 2018

We would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year. We are extremely proud of the progress we made in 2018 – it was a very busy year indeed. I hope you will enjoy reading some of the highlights here. Of course none of this work would be possible without your generous support and we very much hope you will be able to continue to support us in our plans to save further lives in childbirth in 2019  – Dr Adrian Brown, Chair and Co-founder of Maternity Worldwide.


In 2018 our Big Lottery Funded Integrated Maternal Health Programme  was successfully completed. Based in the Zomba district, we used Big Lottery funding to work in two health centres, one hospital and 80 villages. We used our integrated approach to address all obstacles to safe and appropriate childbirth and maternal care. To build upon the existing care available, we trained midwives and strengthened referral systems, and we empowered the most disadvantaged women with income generation groups in the community. We have also improved the knowledge of maternal and neonatal health, as well as maternal mental health, through community engagement across the villages. We are delighted with the progress we have made in the Zomba thanks to the Big Lottery Fund and our supporters generosity.

During our project period…

  • We have facilitated a fantastic 12,619 safe births.
  • The rate of facility-based births has risen from 79.3% to 97.4%.
  • Maternal deaths have halved in our project zone.
  • The number of women generating their own income has more than doubled
  • The number of women with comprehensive awareness of HIV/AIDS has risen to nearly 100%
“Women no longer die in the villages because they are now delivering at facilities.” Beatrice Afia from the Mpalasa Village, Zomba

We are also currently supporting the building of the M’mabo Health Centre in Zomba. Made possible by an extremely generous donation from one of our supporters, this health centre will include a labour ward, post-natal ward and a nursery.

Maternity Worldwide was also actively involved in a research project in June 2018, which explored women’s perceptions of maternal rights and the effect these perceptions had on their maternal care-seeking behaviour.


In Uganda we have continued our work to reduce the number of women and babies dying or injured in pregnancy and childbirth. Our integrated maternal health programme has been designed to enhance access to quality maternal healthcare in the Hoima and Masindi districts of Western Uganda.

In 2018 in Uganda we have…

  • Recruited two more midwives, Olivia and Janeffer, to ensure safe maternal care for mothers.
  • Successfully delivered 302 babies.
  • Improved referral systems to ensure women are safely transferred to the care they need.
  • Facilitated 754 fully packaged ante-natal care appointments.
  • Fully established 25 women’s groups that focus on income generation, which has gone on to support 56 pregnant women in need.
  • Increased male participation within the maternal health education groups.


Last year was a notable year for developing peace in Ethiopia and the surrounding region, including the opening of the Ethiopia-Eritrea border. Abiy Ahmed was elected as Prime Minister in April 2018. The Ethiopian parliament has appointed women to half of his government’s ministerial posts and recently elected the first female President, Sahle-Work Zwede: Africa’s only female head of state.

Maternity Worldwide has been a partner in the CRADLE 3 research project www.cradletrial.com  Between 2017-2018 Ethiopia was one of the sites for this research. The Annual CRADLE meeting in 2018 was held in Addis Ababa with representatives attending from eight sites across Africa as well as Haiti and India.

Thank you again for enabling us to Save Lives in Childbirth





Women’s Group Open Day in Malawi

In November, the women’s group of Mpalasa Village in Mwambo organized an Open Day in order to show case how they have benefited from the project!

The Open Day was fully organized by the women themselves to showcase how they had benefited from the project, and was presented to the Co-Founder of Maternity Worldwide, the Country Director, and the Zomba Civil Society Network.

As part of our Improving Maternal and Neonatal Health Project in the Zomba District, Malawi, we work across 80 villages facilitating women’s income generation groups to empower women by enabling them to become financially independent, and also by running maternal health education groups, so men and women are more aware of the risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth, how to recognize medical emergencies, and the appropriate time to seek help.

During the event, co-founder of Maternity Worldwide, Dr. Adrian Brown, thanked all the partners in a speech for helping with the implementation of the project. He dedicated the speech to the women in the group and thanked them for making the project a success, awarding them all with certificates of recognition.

The Village headwoman for the Village, who is also a member of the women’s group, thanked Maternity Worldwide for having fully supported the groups with the maternal health messages, which has consequently reduced the number of newborn deaths in her village. This has been attributed to the rise of the number of women who are now aware of the importance of delivering at the hospital. She further said that the seed fund basket which keeps revolving in the village as part of the income generation scheme, has helped to improve the people’s lives, as many women are now involved in profiting small-scale businesses and using these incomes to invest in their own wellbeing, thanks to the business management training. In fact, the group has managed to increase the amount of the seed fund basket on their own through the introduction of a 5% interest rate for each loan accessed!

There are a lot of benefits I experienced during the entire time I have been attending and participating in the improving maternal and neonatal health activities. I have been learning lessons which are an eye opener and very educative in improving maternal and neonatal deaths among women in the child bearing age’ Lucy Masaka, women’s group participant.

One member from the women’s group, Phillis, has been using the small loan she got from her group to run a small scale business of selling house paint. Through the business management training the project offered, Phillis was able to grow her business enough to profit, and with this income, she has managed to build a house! In the open day, Phillis spoke of how she is grateful to this project, because not only did it help in reducing maternal and newborn deaths, but is also changed her life.

Throughout the implementation period of the Improving Maternal and Neonatal Health project, all 80 villages have benefited from the income generation groups and the seed funds that come with it. The women’s groups, with the help of the Coordinators and all the facilitators who were trained by Maternity Worldwide, were working hand in hand through this integrated approach to make sure that the seed fund revolves among them, and that these women’s groups not only educate, but empower.

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