The World Loses When We Lose Mothers


Every day, 830 women around the world die from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. This affects women everywhere, from Sierra Leone, where the maternal mortality rate is the highest in the world, to the United States—one of the only developed countries where maternal mortality is on the rise.

In countries around the world, women struggle to receive the care they need before, during, and after giving birth. The causes of maternal deaths run deep, and are often rooted in the social, cultural, and economic fabric of society. In developing countries, limited access to care, under-resourced facilities, and incomplete information about the highest risk pregnancies are major contributors to maternal mortality. And because the hardest to reach communities have some of the highest rates, many localized threats are still unknown.

The causes of maternal mortality run deep.

This is not just a problem in low- and middle- income countries. The United States is one of the only developed countries in the world where maternal mortality is on the rise—700 women die every year as a result of complications related to pregnancy or delivery. Key factors range from challenges accessing quality care, to limited data on maternal mortality, to racial bias in the health care system. Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy or delivery-related death than white women, regardless of socioeconomic status or education.

But nearly all of these deaths are preventable.

Up to 98 percent of all pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths can be avoided by providing the quality, respectful care that women deserve throughout their lives and around childbirth. Providing more precise information about patients and risks, improving sexual and reproductive health education, and ensuring that women have affordable care could all have a major impact on lowering maternal mortality rates.

Now is the time to fight for moms

Everyone, everywhere has a role to play in ending these preventable deaths. By raising our voices to announce that pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths are unacceptable, we can advocate for those who can no longer advocate for themselves.

The Rockefeller Foundation is committed to raising awareness around the world about preventable maternal deaths and building global partnerships to advance digital health equity—leveraging more and better data to connect every level of a country’s health system, helping community health workers, doctors, and public health officials work together to deliver quality, equitable care to those who need it most.

Mothers fight for us their whole lives. Now is the time to fight for moms. We hope you will join us, so that we never have to imagine a world #WithoutMom.


Every year, 303,000 mothers die from pregnancy and delivery-related causes

Circles in blue show the number of maternal deaths per year in 2015.

Between 2000-2015, maternal deaths went up in countries shaded pink.

Note: Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) is the number of women, per 100,000 live births, who die from pregnancy-related causes while pregnant or within 42 days of a pregnancy finishing.
Source: IHME

Learn More and Donate

Organizations around the world are fighting to end preventable deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth, and ensure access to high-quality maternal care.

Black Mamas Matter Alliance

Black Mamas Matter Alliance is a Black, women-led, cross-sectoral alliance. They center Black mamas to advocate, drive research, build power, and shift culture for Black maternal health, rights, and justice.

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Every Mother Counts

Every Mother Counts’ mission is to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere by achieving quality, respectful, and equitable maternity care for all.

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National Birth Equity Collaborative

NBEC creates solutions to optimize Black maternal health through training, policy, advocacy, research, and community-centered collaboration. Founded and led by Black women, NBEC leads systems to the keys for birth equity.

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PATH develops and advances technology, systems, and service innovations that enable women to time and space pregnancies and have safe, healthy pregnancies and deliveries. They advocate for equitable access for women and adolescent girls everywhere.

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UNFPA believes that safe motherhood is a human right, and works globally to train health workers, improve availability of essential medicines and reproductive health services, strengthen health systems, and promote international maternal health standards.

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UNICEF promotes a holistic, rights-based approach to maternal, newborn and child health through reducing inequities of care, strengthening health systems, incorporating resilience and risk-informed planning, and empowering girls, which reduces forced marriage and teenage pregnancy.

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White Ribbon Alliance

White Ribbon Alliance is a locally led, globally connected grassroots movement advocating for the reproductive and maternal health and rights of women, girls, and newborns.

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