Mama Power

Will our century be the one when women, and mothers, finally come into their power?

"We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women acquire the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society.”[1]

That’s the Nobel Committee citing its reasons for awarding the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize to three women’s rights leaders: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkul Karman, a Yemeni journalist, activist and mother of three.

The elite world of the Nobel awards is far removed from Cameroon in central Africa, where members of mothers’ associations are going door to door in villages, trying to convince families and tribal leaders to send their girls to school.[3]

But connect the dots, and you’ll see that these far-flung worlds are in fact connected via an intricate global web of advocates, communities, and networks.[4] Their shared message: gender equality must become a lived reality, and a mother’s contribution must be recognized for its true worth.[5][6]

Online, mothers are blogging by the thousands, chronicling their struggle with the double burden of work and childcare.[7] “By now you probably know I’ve become a WAHM [work-at-home –mom]. Whoa my gawd, this is hard,” writes one such ‘desk-top’ activist. Grassroots advocacy organizations such as MomsRising in the US are aggregating these mothers’ voices to demand family-friendly policies from the government and workplace.[8]

Powerful older leaders (and mothers) such as Mary Robinson of Ireland and Graca Machel of Mozambique are calling for an end to child marriage and early childbearing.[9]

As the co-chair of the world’s largest foundation, Melinda Gates has taken the lead in promoting the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s maternal and child health program. Gates cites her own experience as a mother as fueling her drive to help other mothers deliver and raise healthy children.[10]

Robin Lim, CNN’s “Hero of the Year 2011,” is a midwife and member of the maternal advocacy organization, White Ribbon Alliance.  Robin received the award in recognition of her work for safe motherhood in Indonesia, where she runs clinics offering free prenatal and birth services to low-income women.[11]

Mothers are flexing their muscle as advocates, but the true test of Mama Power still lies ahead.  Will political and social constructs slowly evolve into a more equitable world that recognizes the full value of motherhood?  

[1] Award Ceremony Speech,, December 10, 2011, Accessed 11 December 2011

[2] I Am ‘Occupying’ D.C. for My Children and Future Generations by Linda Evans, Moms, December 8th, 2011, Accessed 11 December 2011

[4] How the World Uses Social Networks (Infographic), by Sarah Kessler, Mashable, June 23, 2011

[5] About Us, UN Women, Accessed 11 December 2011

[6]  Invest in Women – It Pays! Facts & Figures, Women Deliver, Accessed 11 December 2011

[7] SAHM vs. WAHM vs. WOHM:  We All Want the Same Thing, Blogpost by mommyfriend, on, November 10th, 2011, Accessed 12 December 2011

[8] About MomsRisingAccessed 11 December 2011

[9] Child marriage, The EldersAccessed 10 December 2011

[10] People Person by April Dembosky, Financial Times, 9 December, 2011, Accessed 10 December 2011

[11] Lim wins CNN Hero of the Year Award, December 11, 2011, Accessed 12 December 2011