Julie Gichuru is a 17-year career journalist, a mother herself, and a fierce advocate for mothers in her native Kenya. After studying law, Julie found herself drawn to the media field and its ability to bring to light the developmental struggles impacting women in East Africa. From her work with UNICEF to her efforts with Amref Health Africa, maternal care is one of Julie's lifelong passions.
What does maternal care mean to you?
Personally, my first two pregnancies were normal and easy. Then I went into my third, fourth and fifth, and each of those pregnancies were wrought with challenges. If it wasn't for healthcare workers, nurses, hospital facilities and my doctor, I don't believe that I would be alive today. It hit me hard that I was privileged to have this access. If I did not have this access, as many don't, I may have died and wouldn't have been there for my children.
How have you gotten involved with maternal care efforts?
I've been involved with maternal care since my early days as a journalist, even finding myself in dangerous situations trying to provide better tools for families where mothers had just given birth. One time, I even helped move a mother from a slum area to better accommodations. After some time, I started to understand the importance of identifying projects that work and are sustainable, and working with partners and organizations to enhance what they're doing and spread the word to get more support.
How did you connect with Merck for Mothers?
During the 2017 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, I moderated a panel with Mr. Ken Frazier, chairman and CEO of Merck, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group, Mr. Bill Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Borge Brende, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Norway and Mr. Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance in Canada. During the discussion, I was delighted to announce the commitment made toward supporting women and children.
I think a corporation taking an interest in this social issue is a huge paradigm shift. Seeing the private sector, governments and other organizations coming together with the developing world to ask big questions about local access and resources is really powerful.
What inspires you?
Going into a community and just holding a baby in your hands and understanding what has happened, the challenges the mother and baby have faced, and what they've gone through to get to this point. It can carry you for years.
When it comes to getting involved, it's all about asking yourself what you can do to make a contribution. It can be a commitment in terms of action. It can be creating more awareness. Find initiatives that are already out there, and partner with strong networks that can create sustainability.
I think everyone has a role to play. It can start small, with the realization that together, we can do so much more and make an impact.
Julie Gichuru is an entrepreneur and media personality with investments in media, fashion retail and entertainment sectors. Julie is an Independent Director on the Boards of Brand KENYA Board and Acumen Communications Ltd and is a Fellow and Trustee of the Africa Leadership Initiative EA.
Julie's career in the media over the past 15 years has seen her work across the fields of broadcast, print and digital media. Julie has also pioneered an impressive number of television shows, from the first Kenyan investigative TV series, The Inside Story on KTN to various current affairs shows at NTV including political and current affairs programs Showdown, On the Spot, You The Jury and The People's Voice, and the celebrated news program Sunday Live and peace and reconciliation program Fist to Five at Citizen TV. Also included in this list is the celebrated post election peace specials Voices of Reason. Through ARIMUS Media Limited Julie now oversees the production of quality African content such as Africa Leadership Dialogues, high school debate platform Great Debaters Contest and entertainment series Maisha.
The Footprints Africa Foundation (FAF) has been established by Anthony and Julie Gichuru to help empower and grow healthy, dignified and informed societies in the region. FAF believes in giving people a chance to make a mark, to leave a footprint of positivity on the world.
Julie is passionate about family, she is married to entrepreneur Anthony Gichuru. They have had 5 children. "Above all we have a responsibility to nurture and grow the younger generation and our primary role is vested in the family unit."
Julie Gichuru is an alumni of the Harvard Kennedy School and Oxford University's Said Business School.
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