The most inspiring piece of advice I've gotten is simply to persevere. My mom taught me to always keep going no matter what from an early age. When it feels too difficult to push forward, I always remind myself, 'This too shall pass,' and then I redouble my efforts.
I'm Christian. Growing up in Ethiopia, it's half-Christian and half-Muslim. You grow up with Muslim kids. I'm very much aware of their religion.
Investing in women's lives is an investment in sustainable development, in human rights, in future generations - and consequently in our own long-term national interests.
Creative new health strategies like micro-insurance for poor people or Kangaroo care for pre-term babies are transforming health outcomes in even the most low-resource settings. Dedication and innovation are transforming health care worldwide.
When our mothers are alive and healthy, they do extraordinary things... like the mothers of Plaza de Mayo, who marched in Argentinean plazas, defying the military junta dictatorship and demanding the whereabouts of their abducted children... or the Liberian mothers who faced down civil war armed only with T-shirts and courage.
Midwives and doctors play a crucial role preventing unnecessary maternal deaths. They educate women about nutrition, health and family planning. And they step in when complications arise.
I actually started modeling in Ethiopia, because that's where I grew up, and I started out by just doing little fashion shows for school, and I liked it so much that I started pursuing it.
In 1967, the world health community launched a global effort to eradicate smallpox. It took a coordinated, worldwide effort, required the commitment of every government, and cost $130 million dollars. By 1977, smallpox had disappeared.
It's not just Ethiopia, but Africa in general - most of the media concentrates on what's not going well. But there is so much beauty there. When you go, it changes everything. It changes you, your life, and the way you see things. The challenge is changing the image of Africa that's been anchored in people for years now.
I'm a mom. I'm from Ethiopia. I gave birth in the U.S. and had all the proper care available to me. If I had given birth in Ethiopia - I don't know if I might have even survived it.
Dying in childbirth is something that's not new; it's been going on for ages, and so it's not something that people focus on; it's not something that gets funded a lot, and it's exactly for that reason that we are losing mothers all the time, and we have kids with no mothers.
I don't think we should judge celebrities for doing charity work. Period. Whatever their reasons for doing it, they are shedding light on issues that would otherwise go unnoticed.
When a woman has her first child in places like Africa, they're really young. They can be 12, 13,14, so their frames are really small, and they're usually malnourished.
While I was pregnant, I had dozens of checkups. They covered everything from blood tests to ultrasounds, and I even had the option of attending birthing classes with my husband.
A small gold plain cross was passed down from my grandma to my mom, then to me, and now to my daughter. It is always nice to own something that connects you to the women who made it possible for you to exist.
Prenatal care is one of the most effective ways to reduce maternal mortality because it identifies complications or high risks before emergency situations.
If nothing else, I want women to understand that they are powerful. If you look back at history, in almost every big moment, in every leap forward, you find ordinary women at the core. We have more ability to make changes in the world than we can imagine if we have the courage to try.
When I see Lemlem walking around New York City, it's just mind-boggling, because I know it came from this one man sitting and weaving this little product.
There are things that I will always shoot, but now that the modeling and acting worlds are becoming very close, you can do a little bit of one and more of the other.
Traveling around Ethiopia, I saw dozens of abandoned textile factories. People kept asking me to help them find work. So I thought I could make use of my experience in fashion to commercialize their products outside of Ethiopia.