Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 14, 2012

On June 14, Secretary Clinton announced the Women’s Health Innovation Program at the Child Survival Call to Action, held in Washington, D.C. The Women’s Health Innovation Program is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through a $4.5 million grant to the Secretary’s International Fund for Women and Girls. The Office of Global Women’s Issues has partnered with The What to Expect Foundation to implement this program.

Recognizing that the lives of far too many women in the United States and abroad are plagued by cycles of poverty and illiteracy, and cognizant of the high incidence of infant and maternal mortality, The What to Expect Foundation’s mission is to educate and empower parents in-need so they can expect a healthy pregnancy, safe delivery and a healthy baby. The Foundation takes its name from the bestselling What to Expect® pregnancy and parenting series that has sold over 34 million copies in the United States and is an international bestseller in 30 countries.

The Women’s Health Innovation Program will expand the Foundation’s work to the international arena, and will be piloted in Bangladesh, Brazil and Liberia. Building on over 10 years of successful implementation across the United States, the international program aims to empower vulnerable and expectant mothers with evidence-based, culturally appropriate pregnancy information, education, and social support, in an effort to improve maternal and child health and literacy. The Foundation will develop innovative materials inspired and informed by their Baby Basics book and prenatal health literacy program. Work will be implemented with local partners and government agencies. The partnership will support and coordinate the work of front-line healthcare providers and policymakers by fostering collaboration, increasing capacity and ensuring that health information is accurate, comprehensive and readily available and accessible.

The goals of the program are:

  • To provide evidence-based, culturally appropriate pregnancy and parenting materials to underserved families that are attractive, comprehensive and easy to read, and serve as a catalyst for learning and family literacy;
  • To empower and educate low-income expecting women so they have the skills and the support they need to advocate for themselves, their babies, families and communities;
  • To teach healthcare providers, educators and communities how to respectfully engage, communicate and educate low-income mothers during their pregnancy and childbirth; and
  • To build initiatives to bring communities together to support pregnant and new mothers’ learning, and ensure families receive compassionate information and timely care.

A small grants component will be awarded to local grassroots organizations to implement the program using the country-specific Baby Basics tools and curriculum.

PRN: 2012/977