endorsed by 46 Muslim scholars highlighting the Qur'an's teaching
about the rights of mothers is one of the successes of a
"milestone" project that seeks to engage the British Muslim
community in tackling maternal mortality abroad.
The At Our Mothers' Feet project is run by MADE in
Europe, which seeks to mobilise Muslim communities to take action
on global poverty. In 2010, the project received funding from the
Department for International Development (DfID). Last week, an
evaluation of the project, conducted by the Vicar of St John's,
Great Ilford, the Revd Jonathan Evens, was launched in the House of
The report shows that, before the project, 18 out of 51 Muslim
NGOs in the UK were engaged in some form of activity related to
maternal health. There was a "narrow programmatic focus" on "less
controversial aspects", and a "seeming reluctance to engage their
supporters". MADE decided that, in order to raise the issue's
profile in the NGO sector, it would need to engage religious and
community leaders "to explicitly set out the Islamic context", and
"break down cultural taboos and stereotypes".
Besides the statement, released on World Health Day in 2011,
Muslim scholars who had met with MADE discussed maternal health in
sermons, blogs, and on TV shows.
The evaluation reports that 29 community workshops were
delivered by MADE, attended by 776 people (the target agreed with
the DfID was 600). It highlights one held with a group of women
from Somalia - where one in 16 women die during pregnancy or
childbirth. Many who attended were brought to tears, and the group
began fund-raising to help improve infrastructure in the country.
The final strand of the project involved inviting Muslim NGOs to
workshops. To date, 14 have pledged to increase their work on
maternal health - just one short of the DfID target.
One NGO staff member quoted in the evaluation report said that
the campaign "opened our eyes to one way of valuing the input of
women within the cultural constraints we work in. The Eastern
mindset is very much a male one, making headline issues our usual
approach as NGOs. This project addressed things which are
considered beyond the red line for discussion regarding intimate
details, like childbirth. The project found a mature way of dealing
with these discussions where greater deference is needed."
Around the world every day, 800 women die from complications
relating to pregnancy and childbirth. In 2008, 90 per cent of these
deaths occurred in eight Muslim-majority countries: Morocco, Iraq,
Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, Djibouti, and Afghanistan. It is
estimated that eight out of ten lives could be saved if women could
access basic healthcare and education.
The campaign toolkit is available at
You can see the Mum Song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVGm7sFAAAc