The Power of Personal Stories and Communities to Reduce Disparities in Global Maternal Health


Organizations, activists, and practitioners across the globe are bringing hope by addressing the pervasive challenges of disparities in maternal health. Most importantly, women are leveraging their own personal stories to create grassroots programs that transform communities into agents of change.

From improving access to safe childbirth to providing dignified care for women with childbirth injuries, community champions are joining forces with global partners to advocate for women and to restore equity in maternal health. 

In this panel discussion, our group of invited community champions and experts shared how their organizations are working towards a world where every woman has access to safe maternal care no matter the lottery of her birth. In this webinar, you will learn how to #BreakTheBias around maternal health challenges and see ways to advocate for justice and dignity in maternal healthcare.

Featuring opening remarks from Representative Ilhan Omar!


Portrait of Mary-Ann Etiebet

Mary-Ann Etiebet, MD, MBA – Merck for Mothers

Dr. Mary-Ann Etiebet has over two decades of experience improving healthcare outcomes for underserved populations and transforming healthcare delivery at the frontlines. She serves as AVP for Health Equity at Merck, where she is responsible for driving an enterprise-wide health equity strategy for the company that delivers on sustainable business and societal value. She also serves as Lead of Merck for Mothers, Merck's $500M global health initiative to help create a world where no woman has to die giving life. Since 2011, Merck for Mothers programs and partnerships have supported safe, high quality and respectful maternal health care for over 13M women in 50 countries. Building on her experiences as a physician, researcher, implementer, funder and advocate across the public, private and global development sectors, Dr. Etiebet brings a diverse set of perspectives to advancing health equity.

Portrait of Sarah Omega

Sarah Omega – Lets End Fistula Initiative

Sarah Omega is the Founder and Executive Director of Let’s End Fistula Initiative (LEFI). Her passion to advocate for women living with fistula started in 2007 following a successful surgical treatment that ended her 12 years of living with fistula. She served as the Kenya’s Maternal Health Advocate under UNFPA Kenya Office from 2007 to 2009, served as the Treasurer of the Board for Gynocare Women’s and Fistula Hospital Kenya 2010-2015, served as a Board Member for Fistula Foundation California USA 2012-2014, and worked as a Consultant in Communication for Fistula Foundation 2013-May 2020. She was awarded a Certificate of Recognition by the United Nations in Kenya on the UN Day 24th October 2013 for her outstanding advocacy on behalf of Women with Obstetric Fistula and recognized as a Timeless Woman of Wonder in 2015 by the Timeless Women of Wonder Foundation (Africa).

Portrait of Alice Emasu


Alice Emasu is the founder and Executive Director of TERREWODE and Terrewode Women’s Community Hospital (TWCH) . She brings to TERREWODE over 19 years of experience in leadership, management and programing. Her passion for gender equality and social justice is the driving force for unlocking the health care and economic systems that disempower women and the girl-child. Alice is an outstanding social entrepreneur holding a Master of Social Work from the George Warren Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis, USA; Master of Business Administration for social entrepreneur’s, University of Cattolica, Italy; a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication, Makerere University; a Diploma in Development Journalism, the Indian Institute of Mass Communication – New Dehli and a Diploma in Media and Democratization, the University of Oslo –Norway. She holds several certificates in Women Studies, Human Rights and Peace Studies.

Portrait of Rahel Nardos

Rahel Nardos, MD, MCR – University of Minnesota (Moderator)

Rahel Nardos is an associate professor in the University of Minnesota Medical School and Director of Global Women’s Health within the Center of Global Health and Social Responsibility. Born and raised in Ethiopia, Dr. Nardos moved to the US where she earned her Bachelor of Science in biopsychology from Franklin and Marshall College and attended medical school at the Yale School of Medicine. She also spent one year as a staff surgeon at the Addis Ababa Hamlin Fistula Hospital and its multiple satellite medical centers in Ethiopia where she served women with childbirth injuries, and has since supported the first formal Urogynecology Fellowship program in Ethiopia. Dr. Nardos currently serves on the board of the Worldwide Fistula Fund as chair of the programming committee.

This event is part of the International Women's Day webinar series: Coalescing Around Justice, Dignity, and Hope. The webinar series is co-sponsored by members of the Women's Health Equity, Empowerment, and Leadership (WHEEL)

Learn more about the IWD 2022 Webinar Series