Flavia Bustreo and Mario Merialdi both have long experience linked to the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality worldwide. Within the World Health Organization they have already carried out several projects addressing issues related to women’s health, and now they have initiated an innovative response to the current challenges. “Women Create Life” (WCL) was launched in Geneva, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day (March 8); its aim is to raise awareness and build financial resources to meet the challenges in women’s health by merging art, design and consumer markets.
According to the 2010 UN figures, 7.6 million children under the age of five die every year. The mortality rate is largely due to problems linked to malnutrition; diseases that could be prevented or treated with access to simple and affordable interventions. In addition to these appalling facts, further figures show that every year 358,000 women die in pregnancy or in childbirth, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Through art, WCL calls for an innovative financing system for women’s health. “Our project aims to celebrate the women of the world,” Flavia Bustreo, assistant Director General for Family, Women and Children Health of WHO, told The Global Journal. “Too often campaigns in this field give hopeless and voiceless images of developing countries. We want to show positive messages of women as they create the conditions that promote life and development in their communities.”
Each year, WCL will commission a series of paintings portraying women around the world. “Through this initiative we would like to attract new artists and talents to promote our campaign,” said Mario Merialdi, Coordinator of Research, Evidence and Norms of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research of WHO.
The rights for the use of the images by the selected artist or group of artists will be licensed to the companies and brand-name designers producing WCL-inspired objects. The first product, a Moleskin notebook, has been successfully launched in this way. A percentage of the sales will be invested in grass-roots initiatives to improve the health and living conditions of women and their families. One of the first artists to be involved in the project, the young Italian painter Elisabetta Farina, produces empowering portraits of women throughout the world, in comic strip form.
WLC’s objective for next year is to expand the operation beyond the current sponsors in order to involve more countries in the initiative.
(Photo © Women Create Life)