World Vision’s creepily poignant maternal health demonstration

World Vision’s creepily poignant maternal health demonstration

World Vision representatives demonstrate in masks portraying Stephen Harper and the other G8 leaders (Image: Ashleigh Ryan)

“Pregnant with promises”—that’s how World Vision demonstrators depicted G8 leaders at a rally in front of St. James Cathedral this afternoon. About 40 volunteers gathered to promote awareness of the G8’s history of broken promises and lack of accountability for maternal health aid in developing countries. Demonstrators dressed up in mime-like costumes with creepily eyeless masks of world leaders’ faces and paraded on stilts in front of curious passersby. Their slogan was emblazoned on stark white pillows fastened around their waists to resemble pregnant bellies. The eerie spectacle was further emphasized by the child-like cooing from the world leader impersonators and the white-painted baby carriages and rocking chairs that were scattered around.

The G8 pledged $20 billion last year to fund world hunger through 2012; that figure troubles World Vision, as there’s no clear ability to track the disbursement of funds. “Until recently, it hasn’t even been tracked very well, and promises haven’t been kept,” says Dave Toycen, CEO of World Vision Canada. “This whole idea of accountability is on the table right now, not just in Canada but in other countries, as well.”

World Vision claims 8.8 million children under the age of five die every year from such preventable illnesses as pneumonia, malaria and malnutrition, while 500,000 women die every year during childbirth. The Millennium Goals set out in 1990 pledged to cut child mortality by two thirds and maternal deaths by 75 per cent. Toycen says there’s been minimal progress, especially in the area of maternal mortality, where deaths should be reduced by 66 per cent of 1990 levels at least. “There aren’t going to be healthy children if there aren’t healthy mothers,” he says.

World Vision is taking its demonstration to Huntsville for the G8 this week.