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Thinking Equal and Innovating for change on International Women’s Day 2019

13 March 2019

International Women’s Day is always an important date in the calendar at mothers2mothers (m2m). This year’s theme – “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” – put innovation by women and girls, for women and girls, at the heart of efforts to achieve gender equality. So naturally at m2m, we were particularly excited to join the celebrations and share how m2m Mentor Mothers do just that.

As part of our commitment to sharing stories from our work with diverse international audiences, we were delighted to have Spokeswoman Relebohile Leoatha from Lesotho travel to London to share her experience and insights during a packed week of events. Relebohile, and the other 10,000 HIV positive women we’ve employed in sub-Saharan Africa as Mentor Mothers since our creation in 2001, are the perfect illustration of the importance of thinking equal and building smart. Thanks to their crucial work in understaffed health facilities and local communities, we have been able to innovate for change, with over 10.5M women and children under two reached by peers from their communities since 2001 with vital lifesaving health education and advice.

Author and blogger Clemmie Hooper and m2m Spokeswoman Relebohile Leoatha. Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images.

It was a fitting week for Relebohile to meet many of our supporters. It started off with a sensational m2m Wonder Women Tea, hosted by leading Instagrammer and mother to four daughters, author, midwife and blogger, Clemmie Hooper, aka @mother_of_daughters. The m2m Wonder Women Teas, officially launched at this event, are an opportunity to celebrate the Wonder Women who inspire us – in our case, the amazing m2m Mentor Mothers! We were excited to see so many of our guests come together to support m2m and post about it on social media. If you want to find out more, click here to find out how you can hold your own.

Relebohile also spoke to some of our longstanding and newer corporate supporters to introduce their staff to the powerful work of Mentor Mothers. The teams at MAC Cosmetics and Warner Bros (WB) heard firsthand about the power of the m2m Mentor Mother model, with Relebohile explaining: “Being a Mentor Mother is special – People in the community trust us, they know us. This is what makes the model work”. We were also very proud to officially announce that m2m was selected as one of WB’s charity partners for 2019 – watch this space! 

m2m’s Emma France and Relebohile Leoatha at a private dinner hosted by Yasmin Mills. Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images.

We were thrilled that some of our closest friends also decided to celebrate International Women’s Day by generously hosting private events. Nicola Loftus, Tamara Beckwith and Arabella Spiro assembled an extraordinary group of Wonder Women for an intimate lunch, while Yasmin Mills and her daughters Maddie and Lauren, invited their friends to a private dinner at Yasmin’s beautiful Ecofetes Studio in West London. Guests were delighted to hear from Relebohile, who spoke about her work and how she, and other Mentor Mothers, champion the health and wellbeing of women and their families.

The week culminated in International Women’s Day itself on 8th March, with a hugely inspiring conversation about the power of sisterhood hosted at the Allbright Club. m2m’s Global Strategic and Engagement Director Emma France chaired a brilliant panel, bringing together actress and m2m Patron Samantha Bond, Producer and British Film Council superstar Jo Duncombe and Relebohile. The panel discussed mentoring, empowerment and the amazing things that happen when women come together to support other women.

  m2m Patron Samantha Bond, Emma France, Relebohile Leoatha & Jo Duncombe at the Allbright Club on International Women’s Day.

Relebohile left guests with a powerful message: “As women, we have to support each other so that we can stand up and fight for what we want. That is why it’s so important to find your own mentor.” The true spirit of what International Women’s Day is all about!  

The week ended on a high at the famous Union Chapel for Letters Live, where remarkable letters are read by a diverse array of outstanding performers. m2m was selected as their chosen charity for their International Women’s Day run and we could not have been more excited to hear from readers which included Academy nominees Benedict Cumberbatch and Felicity Jones, British comedian John Bishop and Olivia Colman, fresh from her Oscar win for Best Actress and who recently narrated British Airways’ seatback video featuring m2m!

Letters Live – Union Chapel, London.

A huge thank you to everyone who has been so generous with their time and support to help us turn International Women’s Day into such an inspirational week. We are buoyed to continue our hard work so that one day, every day will be International Women’s Day.

We have plenty of exciting events like these planned for the rest of the year in cities around the world so if you want to be sure not to miss out, sign up to our newsletter or follow us on social media!

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