Liya Kebede (Amharic: ሊያ ከበደ?), born January 3rd 1978, is an Ethiopian model, maternal health advocate, clothing designer and actress who has appeared three times on the cover of US Vogue . According to Forbes, Kebede was eleventh-highest-paid top model in the world in 2007. Since 2005, Kebede has served as the World Health Organization Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a film director spotted her while she was attending Lycee Guebre Mariam and introduced her to a French modeling agent. After completing her studies, she moved to France to pursue work through a Parisian modeling agency and later relocated to New York City. She has remarked that the modeling industry in Ethiopia is quite different from the catwalks on which she is now a part of because in Ethiopia she had to provide her own shoes for each runway show. Kebede's big break came when Tom Ford asked her for an exclusive contract for his Gucci Fall/Winter 2000 fashion show. Her popularity in the fashion industry sky-rocketed when she appeared on the cover of the May 2002 edition of Paris Vogue, which dedicated the entire issue to her. She has been seen on the covers of Italian, Japanese, American, French and Spanish Vogue, V, Flair, i-D and Time's Style & Design. She has been featured in ad campaigns including those for Shiatzy Chen, Gap, Yves Saint-Laurent, Victoria's Secret, Emanuel Ungaro, Tommy Hilfiger, Revlon, Dolce & Gabbana, Escada and Louis Vuitton. In 2003, Kebede was named the newest face of Estée Lauder cosmetics, the first Ethiopian to serve as their representative in the company's 57-year history with a rumored contract for $3 million dollars. In 2005, Kebede was appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health at the World Health Organization. In July 2007, earning an estimated total of $2.5 million in 12 months, Forbes named her eleventh on the list of the World's 15 Top-Earning Supermodels.
Kebede launched Lemlem, a clothing line, in 2008. Lemlem means to bloom in Amharic and features hand-spun, woven and embroidered women and children’s clothing. Kebede founded the line to help preserve the art of traditional weaving in Ethiopia and to offer work opportunities to local artisans. Lemlem is sold at Barney’s, J.Crew, Net-a-Porter.com and numerous boutique shops. Kebede says it's wonderful to be able to donate and help people and hopes this will be part a sea of change for her home country. Ethiopian-born model, clothing designer and health advocate, Liya started a foundation to reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality worldwide turning her good fortune into the good fortune of others. After Kebede was appointed World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, she then founded the Liya Kebede Foundation, whose mission is to reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality in Ethiopia and around the world. The Foundation funds advocacy and awareness raising projects as well as providing direct support for low-cost technologies, community-based education, and training and medical programs. She has traveled to Ethiopia to support maternal health projects on multiple occasions and in 2009, she worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of their Living Proof Project. She also served as a high-level adviser for the Center for Global Development's 2009 report: Start with a Girl: A New Agenda for Global Health. Kebede writes for The Huffington Post about maternal and child health and has been featured in Vogue and on The Daily Beast. She is also part of the Champions for an HIV Free Generation, an organization of African leaders led by former Botswana President Festus Mogae. The Champions advocate for increased HIV prevention and treatment efforts in Africa.
In her role as the World Health Organization's Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal Newborn and Child Health, Liya worked alongside the World Health Organization to raise awareness and improve the health of mothers and children worldwide. Liya worked hard to link World Health Organization initiatives with the programs of the Liya Kebede Foundation and served as an advocate for the World Health Organization efforts to save mothers lives. She has travelled to her home country of Ethiopia, Europe and China among other places to promote maternal health. The World Health Organization has a number of programs designed to end maternal mortality. Through its Making Pregnancy Safer program, the World Health Organization has brought health care to hundereds of thousands of pregnant women across the globe. The World Health Organization provides critical financing to developing countries, trains doctors and distributes medicine and supplies. World Health Organization doctors and field staff work daily to provide the medicine that expectant mothers need to survive. In keeping with the World Health Organization policies, the term for the ambassadorship is limited, and LIya has now proudly served for five years. Liya was honored to work with the World Health Organization and will continue to support its work. Saving mothers’ lives requires the strategic coordination and deployment of resources, skilled doctors and midwives, ambulances, roads, clean sheets and basic medical tools, just to name a few. We are dedicated to raising awareness and lobbying governments to make the necessary investment in the next generation. Half a million women and girls die each year in childbirth. In fact, childbirth is one of the leading causes of death for women in the developing world. No other health disparity so disproportionately affects poor, marginalized women.
Across the developing world, mothers die from the same basic complications: bleeding, infection, hypertension and obstructed labor. Simply put, with basic medical care, the vast majority of these deaths can be prevented. Without it, mothers will continue to die. Maternal mortality affects us all, even in countries where it rarely occurs. When a mother dies, her children, her family and her community suffer. Children who have lost their mothers are up to ten times more likely to die within two years. They are less likely to be immunized, more likely to be malnourished, more likely to contract HIV and more likely to be exploited. When we lose our mothers, we lessen productivity, deepen gender inequality and destabilize societies. At the Liya Kebede Foundation, they believe that maternal mortality is everyone's problem.
The Liya Kebede Foundation is dedicated to saving the lives of mothers and children. Every minute, a woman dies from complications that arise during pregnancy or child birth and every minute 20 children under the age of five years die. Most of these deaths could be prevented with access to basic health care. There is something desperately wrong about dying while trying to give life. The Liya Kebede Foundation is committed to ensuring that every woman, no matter where she lives, has access to life-saving care. Her foundation works to educate policy makers and support programs that save lives in partnership with governments, non-governmental organizations, corporations and affected communities. Saving mothers' lives requires the strategic coordination and deployment of resources, skilled doctors and midwives, ambulances, roads, clean sheets and basic medical tools, just to name a few, but her foundation is dedicated to saving the next generation of mothers. The Liya Kebede Foundation promotes the use of proven, simple, low-cost strategies to save the lives of mothers and their children. To educate health care workers and work to improve the quality and access to medical care for all mothers and children, no matter where they live.
The Liya Kebede Foundation supports community-based projects to improve knowledge and practices of maternal and child health in order to reduce illness and deaths. The aim of the Liya Kebede Foundation is to involve the public and advocate for policy makers and governments to invest in mothers' lives. Liya is inspired by the women she meets providing critical health care needs on the ground in the developing world. She meets countless women who work tirelessly, without basic supplies and in terribly difficult conditions. These women inspire her to use the opportunities afforded to her by her career to tell the world about how we can save mothers’ lives. She is grateful that her career has afforded her a platform to share the stories of women who wouldn’t otherwise be heard. Kebede married Ethiopian hedge fund manager Kassy Kebede in 2000. They have two children together - a son Suhul born in 2001 and a daughter Raee was born in August 2005. Desert Flower is a 2009 British-German biographical film directed by Sherry Horman that stars Liya Kebede, Sally Hawkins and Craig Parkinson. It depicts the life of the Somali-born model and womens advocate and activist, Waris Dirie. In Ethiopia, 94 percent of women deliver their babies at home, without the aid of a trained birth attendant. Follow Liya Kebede, the World Health Organization's Global Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health and a native of Ethiopia, as she learns firsthand the challenges facing mothers and newborns and how new U.S. funded programs are helping to shift the odds in their favor.
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Every minute, a woman dies from complications that arise during pregnancy or child birth and every minute, 20 children under the age of five years die. Most of these deaths could be prevented with access to basic health care. The Liya Kebede Foundation is committed to ensuring that every woman, no matter where she lives, has access to life-saving care...
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