Sunday, November 17, 2013
Last spring I attended a WomenNC presentation in the Carmichael Ballroom. The 2013 CSW fellows were presenting on their experiences at the UN and their overall experiences as fellows. All that they had researched, experienced, and learned throughout the process amazed me, and I knew I had to be a 2014 CSW fellow.
This fall I anxiously waited for the CSW fellowship application to open, and as soon as it did, I began to complete it. I submitted my application soon after and waited day after day to find out if I made it to interviews. Later on in October, Beth informed me that my application was submitted first (let's just say I was a bit embarrassed by my eagerness). I was ecstatic when I was informed that I made it to the interviews, and I was beyond excited (screamed continuously for 5 minutes) when I found out I was chosen as a 2014 CSW fellow.
Now, WomenNC has held its first workshop for us fellows, and we have begun brainstorming our research topics. This year the priority theme for the 2014 CSW is “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)* for women and girls." I came into this fellowship not entirely sure about what I would want to research, so prior to the first WomenNC workshop, I looked through some resources discussing the MDGs. The 8 MDGs are: #1 Eradicate Extreme Poverty & Hunger, #2 Achieve Universal Primary Education, #3 Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women, #4 Reduce Child Mortality, #5 Improve Maternal Health, #6 Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases, #7 Ensure Environmental Sustainability, and #8 Global Partnership for Development.
This year at UNC, I am a co-chair for the organization Students United for Reproductive Justice (SURJ), and reproductive justice has become a women's issue that I am incredibly passionate about— especially after this past summer in NC. So, two of the MDGs that really grabbed my attention were #4: Reduce Child Mortality and #5: Improve Maternal Health. In SURJ, we use the framework for reproductive justice that was created by the nonprofit Sister Song: "the right to have children, not have children, and to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments." I am often very focused on the "right to not have children" and I have not paid as much attention to "the right to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments." After reading the MDGs, I thought this fellowship would provide me with a great opportunity to focus more on "the right to parent the children..." aspect of reproductive justice.
Currently, my draft topic for my research is to focus on prenatal and postnatal care of mothers. As I was reading about the MDGs, I learned that an increasing number of child mortalities are occur during their first month of life. Although I do not yet know, I have a feeling that there is probably a strong negative relationship between maternal health and child mortality within the first month of birth. The healthier the mother is, the less likely child mortality within the first month of life will occur. Additionally, as I was reading about maternal health, I learned that there are great disparities in maternal health between mothers that live in rural areas and mothers that live in urban areas. I would really like to further research this issue.
As far as potential partnerships go, I recently learned about the organization Durham Connects. This nonprofit offers to provide a home nurse visit to all parents, in Durham County, that have recently given birth. Their visit provides great postnatal care and statistics show that their work has been successful. Another organization that I found is the North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation. This organization was founded in 1990 and works to decrease infant mortality and improve women’s health. This organization has been very successful in reducing maternal mortality, and I would really like to learn more about all that they do.
I hope that these organizations are open to working with me, and I cannot wait to get started on this research!