This week is my last week as CEO of White Ribbon Alliance. Oh, what a journey and adventure it has been! I am proud of our collective commitment and the many things we have accomplished together over the years.
I joined White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) 17 years ago because I, like WRA, hold a firm belief that people know best their own problems and their own solutions. I also saw maternal mortality—the primary focus of WRA at the time—as a stark indicator of the lack of value placed on women’s lives. I was not a health care provider or a public health professional. I was—and am—a social justice advocate who believes that systems change is the only sustainable and scalable solution to address deep inequalities.
Our movement has come a long way, generating significant attention and action for improved health at all levels. We’ve centered women’s and communities’ voices and experiences in all that we do—from the Stories of Mothers Lost exhibition to the current What Women Want campaign. We’ve been unwavering that advancing sexual, reproductive, maternal, and newborn health care is inherently political and we have not shied away from speaking to truth to power. We’ve helped to break the silence on mistreatment, disrespect, discrimination, and abuse of women in the health system—in high-income and low-income countries alike. We’ve championed approaches such as self-care that trust women to make the best decisions for themselves and their bodies.
We’ve also learned a lot as an Alliance and have continued to hold the mirror up to ourselves and to be increasingly honest about how truly diverse, inclusive, and equitable we are—and to develop concrete plans that match our values.
As I conclude my time at WRA, I am optimistic for the future. My successors are bold and courageous. They are committed to actively challenge systems of oppression and to spreading power within and outside the WRA movement. WRA leaders around the world will build connections and support movements for the rights of all people. Centered on justice, I am confident the vision of a world where women and girls realize their right to health and well-being will be realized.
Thank you for the years of support—and challenge—to carry out this role. It has been the absolute privilege of a lifetime.