Every Mother's Day, you're reminded to call your mother. You're reminded to send her flowers. You're reminded, in essence, to appreciate all the things your mother has done for you.
But what if we really appreciated mothers all year long? What if we lived in a world where policies actually supported mothers?
What would this world look like?
For starters, our governments would recognize that mothers sustain families and communities. They would make that job easier. Governments would preserve social services, for child care, food assistance, health care and more. They wouldn't cut them from budgets, forcing mothers to pay the price for Wall Street's catastrophic failures.
In communities around the world, it is women, and particularly mothers, who take care of most people. And when public services are slashed, it's mothers who pick up the slack. When childcare services are slashed, mothers still care for children, but without help. When food assistance services are cut, mothers are still expected to feed their families. When access to health care is restricted, the responsibility to care for the sick falls on women.
Mothers have always been society's default safety nets. But today's budget cuts are pushing mothers to the breaking point.
In a world where mothers were really appreciated, women's reproductive rights would be secure. We would all understand that women must have the freedom to decide whether and when to have children, and whether to end a pregnancy. A woman who chooses to become a mother would have the health care and support she needs for a safe pregnancy.
And every woman would know that she and the children she mothers have a shot at a healthy life. Health means more than a lack of disease–it means access to food and clean water, to education, to economic opportunity. It also means a commitment from our government leaders to make sure these resources are within reach.
Mother's Day in the US was born 140 years ago, as a day to honor the commitment of mothers to peace. And mothers worldwide have never stopped working to prevent war, to survive and to rebuild families and communities out of the rubble.
If mothers were really appreciated, their global call for peace would halt our leaders' constant march to war.
MADRE is working to make this vision of a better world a reality. MADRE's founders chose the name MADRE–Spanish for mother–to honor the women who demand their own and their families' safety, health and human rights.
This Mother's Day, let's rededicate ourselves to these women and all mothers, who understand that mothering is about more than raising kids. It's about building the world we all need.
In Kenya, we're working with the Indigenous Information Network (IIN) to run shelters for girls fleeing forced marriage, a practice that sacrifices girls' education and endangers their health in early pregnancy.
In Palestine, our partnership with Midwives for Peace helps pregnant women living under Israeli occupation access maternal health services that are often cut off by blockades and military checkpoints.
In Sudan and Guatemala, we're helping women and their families grow local, sustainable food and access clean water. And around the world, we're fighting for international laws that support all mothers and all women.
This Mother's Day, we're also sending a message to President Obama: "Family planning and abortion rights are essential to women's health and safe motherhood." Join the call at www.madre.org/mothers.
By Yifat Susskind, MADRE Executive Director