B!RTH at the WHO

‘We’ve got it in our head, but you also need it in your heart.’

Foto-Cewek’s Centre for Maternal and Newborn Health ( might be a place of scientific research, but they know that to make real change in the world of global health, we need to think beyond our walls, and so they’ve been working with the arts world in order to harness the power of emotion and advocate for change.

B!RTH International is a unique creative collaboration between CMNH, , and the  , addressing the pressing global issue of women’s health inequality. In November, two of seven specially commissioned plays by female playwrights were performed to policy-makers at the WHO HQ in Geneva, and were followed by an impassioned debate which reflected the power of these women’s voices.

‘’ , by Mumbi Kaigwa, is a piece of verbatim theatre addressing the stigma and pain of obstetric fistula in Kenya, while ‘’ by Liwaa Yazji explores the emotional realities of displaced Syrian mothers, suffering sexual violence and statelessness. One delegate commented that ‘It’s when we feel emotions that things change. These performances are so powerful because it’s personal and professional. Emotions matter – without passion, we can’t move forward.’ The debate was facilitated by Professor Nynke van den Broek and panel members included Professor Mukesh Kapila CBE, Professor of Global Health and Humanitarian Affairs, University of Manchester and Dr. Princess Nothemba (Nono) Simelela, Assistant Director General for Family, Women, Children and Adolescents, World Health Organization.

‘Q and Q’ by Liwaa Yazji  was then performed on the BBC’s World Service on December 23rd and can be listened to online .

Find out more about B!RTH, and how you can download and use the scripts at your conference, university, or health event, at .



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