Julie Gichuru is a 17-year career journalist, a mother herself, and a fierce advocate for mothers in her native Kenya. After studying law, Julie found herself drawn to the media field and its ability to bring to light the developmental struggles impacting women in East Africa. From her work with UNICEF to her efforts with Amref Health Africa, maternal care is one of Julie's lifelong passions.
The Big Questions
What does maternal care mean to you?
Personally, my first two pregnancies were normal and easy. Then I went into my third, fourth and fifth, and each of those pregnancies were wrought with challenges. If it wasn't for healthcare workers, nurses, hospital facilities and my doctor, I don't believe that I would be alive today. It hit me hard that I was privileged to have this access. If I did not have this access, as many don't, I may have died and wouldn't have been there for my children.
“I believe in the next generation, and empowering them to make the world a better place.”
– Julie Gichuru
How have you gotten involved with maternal care efforts?
I've been involved with maternal care since my early days as a journalist, even finding myself in dangerous situations trying to provide better tools for families where mothers had just given birth. One time, I even helped move a mother from a slum area to better accommodations. After some time, I started to understand the importance of identifying projects that work and are sustainable, and working with partners and organizations to enhance what they're doing and spread the word to get more support.
“It's more than a story. It's a calling to do what we can to highlight the issue of access to healthcare for mothers and children.”
– Julie Gichuru
How did you connect with MSD for Mothers?
During the 2017 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, I moderated a panel with Mr. Ken Frazier, chairman and CEO of MSD, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group, Mr. Bill Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Borge Brende, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Norway and Mr. Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance in Canada. During the discussion, I was delighted to announce the commitment made toward supporting women and children.
I think a corporation taking an interest in this social issue is a huge paradigm shift. Seeing the private sector, governments and other organizations coming together with the developing world to ask big questions about local access and resources is really powerful.
What inspires you?
Going into a community and just holding a baby in your hands and understanding what has happened, the challenges the mother and baby have faced, and what they've gone through to get to this point. It can carry you for years.
When it comes to getting involved, it's all about asking yourself what you can do to make a contribution. It can be a commitment in terms of action. It can be creating more awareness. Find initiatives that are already out there, and partner with strong networks that can create sustainability.
I think everyone has a role to play. It can start small, with the realization that together, we can do so much more and make an impact.