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UNFPA, Unite to Light Provide “Light for Life” for Midwives in Humanitarian and Conflict Zones

November 13, 2018
Under the Safe Birth Even Here campaign, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and Unite to Light (UTL) have launched the “Light for Life” project. This initiative will provide solar lights to midwives in humanitarian and conflict zones, as well as to rural regions without access to electricity.
According to the World Health Organization, 830 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. That is a death toll equivalent to jumbo jet crashing, every single day. One of the most effective interventions to stop preventable maternal deaths is ensuring that a skilled birth attendant or midwife is available to assist with the delivery. However, in many villages across the globe, a lack of basic facilities such as electricity, impairs their efforts to ensure a safe delivery.

Midwives are crucial in regions that lack resources and are often the only trained healthcare providers available. Yet even with the best of training, a midwife is limited if she cannot see what she is doing. When a woman gives birth at night, or in a dark hut, often the only available light source is from a cooking fire, candles or a kerosene lantern. These options, when available, provide limited visibility and are dangerous due to their flammability and air polluting emissions. However, with a solar light, a midwife can help safely see and attend to the mother and child.

Over 75 per cent of the world’s people affected by crises are women and children. When disaster strikes, women are faced with the loss of  medical support, malnutrition and increased incidence of sexual violence. Their vulnerability is even higher in times of pregnancy: 3 in 5 maternal deaths occur in countries affected by, or prone to conflict or natural disaster. The Safe Birth Even Here campaign aims to make women’s health, safety and dignity a global humanitarian priority and mobilize action and funding to support women’s health in all humanitarian operations worldwide.  

“At UNFPA, we have declared “safe birth, even here” because migration while pregnant can increase risk of complications. Therefore, pregnant women may be left behind, while others seek safer locations. And those left behind may face continued threats, often exacerbated by a collapsing health system.”  says UNFPA’s Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem

“Solar lights are crucial for midwives, and ensure the health, well-being and privacy of the mother,” says Megan Birney, President of Unite to Light.  “Last year, in partnership with UNFPA, we deployed 11,000 solar lights to the Bangladesh Midwifery Society for the midwives and the Rohingya refugee mothers they were helping. This year we will be working with UNFPA in Paraguay and Bangladesh to ensure that midwives are properly equipped to ensure safe births everywhere.”


UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is a UN international development agency that seeks to achieve a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential fulfilled.

About Safe Birth Even Here
The Safe Birth Even Here campaign aims to raise public awareness regarding the high rate of maternal deaths in emergency areas and to increase support to services to protect the rights of women and adolescent girls living in humanitarian and vulnerable environments. It was created in 2012 by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and relaunched in 2016 with the creative talents of the Research Communication Center of Benetton, Fabrica, under the auspices of the Benetton Women's Empowerment Program. Johnson & Johnson works with Safe Birth Even Here as a strategic partner, supporting the campaign around the world.

About Unite to Light
Unite to Light believes that access to clean and affordable light and energy are critical to improving health, education and prosperity globally. As a not-for-profit 501(c)3 they have a mission to manufacture and distribute efficient, durable, low cost solar light and energy to people without access to electricity. Key program areas include: education, global health and disaster response. Unite to Light has distributed over 100,000 lamps to 70 countries since 2011. 
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