This site is a resource for tips and tools for excellence in care for women. It is dedicated to happenings at the Women's Health Education Program of Drexel University College of Medicine. WHEP's programming includes innovative education of health professionals, community outreach, community participatory research and networking with like-minded people interested in overcoming gender health disparities.
was Mother’s Day, and while reading through the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer I discovered something that as a daughter,
mother and physician I never knew before: rather than being a “Hallmark holiday”, Mother’s
Day actually has its roots in a social reform and political action
movement.I learned that in 1858 social
activist Ann Reeves Jarvis organized “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” in response to high
maternal and infant mortality rates in the US.The coalition raised money to buy medicines and hire mothers’ helpers
for those suffering from tuberculosis,inspect food and milk for contamination, and visit homes to teach mothers how to
improve sanitary conditions.
campaign (as it was subsequently dubbed) grew to over 10 million American women
and became a formidable Washington lobby.The funding secured for state-level programs on maternal and infant
hygiene, prenatal health clinics, and visiting nurses for pregnant and new
mothers contributed to a 10% decline in the overall infant mortality rate.
Ann’s daughter Anna subsequently started a campaign
to create a day commemorating the efforts and service of mothers like her own. In 1908, the first official Mother’s Day was
celebrated by 15,000 people in Grafton and Philadelphia.A few years later in 1914, President Woodrow
Wilson signed a resolution designating the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day.In light of all of the sociopolitical
controversy and challenges facing us today, it’s heartening to know that women are
ready to protect and defend the work of the Maternalists that started more than
a century ago – and not only on Mother’s Day, but every day.