Somaliland: Fighting Maternal Mortality


By: Jenni MorelloDr Edna Aden

Somalilandsun – Being a part of Half the Sky Movement has been an incredible, eye-opening experience that has taught me a lot about myself and has also empowered me to be a better woman.

I think of all the strong-willed and influential women I’ve met in the past year and one in particular jumps out at me.

In Somaliland, I met one of these incredible women — her name is Edna. Edna Adan is one of those people that you meet and instantly feel proud and empowered to be a woman. She has done such amazing work in Somaliland in terms of maternal health.

She started the first ever maternal health hospital in Hargeisa. Simple access to pre-natal vitamins, and access to a midwife are usually scarce.

Our first full day of filming took place in a clinic in a dusty village near the border of Ethiopia, and it was there that we encountered a pregnant woman who had been suffering from anemia and malnutrition. She did not look healthy nor did she look like she could survive for much longer. She had left her other children and walked over 50km to see the midwife. The woman was dying. In our modern society we forget that maternal mortality is a threat that still plagues the world. I’m sure access to pre-natal vitamins and a better diet would have saved her life. Sadly she passed away and that is when the impact and scope of this project hit me. I am incredibly lucky to have grown up in a country where I’ve been educated and understand the choices I can make for myself. Maternal mortality is a horrific reality that happens to so many women around the world. This woman never had the chance to live, but for some that chance still exists.

It is difficult to change people’s minds and ideals, but Edna is slowly transforming the minds of women and men in aJenni Morello country that has deeply held on to its generational roots. Through her midwife program she is spreading education on maternal mortality throughout Somaliland. I have spent many years trying to figure out how to use my skills to create change for women around the world. Edna has not only inspired the women of Somaliland, she has inspired me to continue to lead a life of advocacy. If she can build a hospital on a former garbage dump, then we can all aspire to make an impact, even if it is only a fraction of the work she has done.

The writer Jenni Morello is a Half the Sky movement crewmember

You can support Edna’s Maternity Hospital in the RaiseForWomen Challenge here.