March for Moms: Five Questions for Dr. Neel Shah

Dr. Neel Shah is the Co-founder of March for Moms and Harvard Obstetrician

There are a lot of marches these days…do we really need a march for moms?

The past few months have brought the world a lot of shocking news. One positive consequence of these are uncertain times is that it has stoked a fire of activism in the United States in a way that we have not been seen in decades. We are seeing people of all stripes stand up and advocate for the issues they care deeply about, from science on Earth Day to the wellbeing of moms on Mother’s Day.

Here’s the thing: moms are used to putting themselves last in order to put their families first. We believe it is high time to give our moms the support and public investment they deserve.

Right now, one in every three Americans is born through major surgery—twice as many as are medically necessary. At the same time, we have the highest rates of maternal death and injury, the lowest birth weights, and the widest disparities in the entire developed world. If that wasn’t bad enough, we also have the worst paid family leave policies in the entire developed world.

My colleagues and I believe the United States of America can do a lot better. That’s why we’re going to be at the Jefferson Memorial on May 14th.


What are you hoping to accomplish?

We all love our own moms, but the way we treat moms collectively in this country is shameful. Moms are resilient—even when things are tough, they seldom complain. The goal of March for Moms is to ensure they get the support and investment they deserve, whether they complain or not.


How are you going to do this?

First we created a canvas – the Thomas Jefferson Memorial on Mother’s Day. Then we built a wireframe: a platform of bipartisan issues that everyone can agree are hugely important—from preventing an alarming rate of maternal death, to investing in moms who also work with paid family leave. Within weeks, we had dozens of leading American organizations co-creating the event with us—they are collectively financing and promoting a rally that will gather thousands of families on the National Mall, and feature speakers, entertainers, celebrities, and policymakers.

We will also be hosting a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill, followed by a lobbying day directed toward a set of specific bills.


Who are you working with?

March for Moms started from a conversation between leaders of two professional organizations in maternal health—the American College of Nurse Midwives and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It has since grown to include more than twenty organizations, including Every Mother Counts, March of Dimes, Lamaze International, the National Partnership for Women and Families, and many others.


I’m fired up. How can I be a part of this?

Three ways. First, show up. This is a historic event –the first time anything like this has happened—we need you there for it to be as successful as possible. Second, invest—any amount, even just $10, will go a long way towards making sure we capture the attention of policymakers. Third, share. Tell everyone you know—we’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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