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Merck Foundation announces the Winners of “Merck More Than a Mother” Fashion Awards in Zambia to break Infertility Stigma

Merck Foundation announces the Winners of  “Merck More Than a Mother” Fashion Awards in Zambia to break Infertility Stigma

Merck Foundation (Merck-Foundation.com) had invited application from all young Fashion Designers of Zambia to create a design with the aim to break the stigma around infertility in general and around infertile women in particular in Zambia and rest of Africa; The 6 winners got an opportunity to exhibit their designs during Zambia Fashion Week with the aim to empower infertile and childless women. The theme of the ceremony was #NoToInferrtilityStigma

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany announced the winners of “Merck More Than a Mother” Fashion Awards in partnership with H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia, together with Zambia Fashion Week.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother emphasized “We initiated the “Merck More Than a Mother” Fashion Awards across all Africa with the aim to deliver strong and influential messages to empower infertile women and say ‘No to Infertility Stigma’ and to create meaningful fashion trend to educate their communities that ‘Fertility is a Shared Responsibility’.”

The awards attracted many applications, out of which, 5 best designs were chosen by the ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ committee.

The winners of the “Merck More Than a Mother” Fashion Awards are:

  • Ms. KASONDE NKOLE, First Winner
  • Ms. VARINDER KAUR VIRDY, Second Winner
  • Mr. GIBSTAR MAKANGLIA
  • Ms. KASONDE MAKANGLIA
  • Ms. CHIMWEMWE KALIRANI     
  • Ms. SAANDIME SHISHOLEKA

The awards winners were granted $500 each to execute and showcase their designs (arranging for models) and had an opportunity to exhibit them during the Zambia Fashion Week which was conducted in Lusaka on 17th -19th October 2019.

“No designer has ever, or would ever, say that he or she wanted to make things difficult for women. Fashion industry has already got enough flakes for being superficial. These awards are our efforts to change this perception and create a meaningful fashion trend aiming to educate our communities that ‘Fertility is a Shared Responsibility’ and ‘Women are more than just Mothers’”, added Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Merck Foundation established a long-term partnership with the First Lady of Zambia and Ministry of Health to build healthcare capacity with the aim of improving access to equitable and quality healthcare solutions nationwide.

Merck Foundation has also appointed Her Excellency First Lady of Zambia to be the Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother campaign to empower infertile women through access to information, health and change of mindset to break the stigma around infertility. Through this campaign, Merck Foundation has trained the first Fertility specialists in Zambia, and will continue to train more candidates to help infertile couples across the country.

Merck Foundation has also appointed Her Excellency First Lady of Zambia to be the Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother campaign to empower infertile women through access to information, health and change of mindset to break the stigma around infertility. Through this campaign, Merck Foundation has trained the first Fertility specialists in Zambia, and will continue to train more candidates to help infertile couples across the country.


Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Merck Foundation.

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Website: Merck-Foundation.com

About ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign:
With “Merck More than a mother”, we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility on all levels: By improving awareness, training local experts in the fields of fertility care and media, building advocacy in cooperation with African First Ladies and women leaders and by supporting childless women in starting their own small businesses. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child.
“Merck More Than a Mother” is a strong movement that aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets. This powerful campaign supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe and effective fertility care. It defines interventions to break the stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about infertility prevention, management and male infertility. In partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information, Education & Gender, academia, policymakers, International fertility societies, media and art, the initiative also provides training for fertility specialists and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.

With “Merck More than a mother”, we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility on all levels: By improving awareness, training local experts in the fields of fertility care and media, building advocacy in cooperation with African First Ladies and women leaders and by supporting childless women in starting their own small businesses. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child. 

The Ambassadors of “Merck More Than a Mother” are:

H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Botswana

H.E. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia

H.E. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique

H.E DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of Burundi

H.E. CONDÉ DJENE, The First Lady of Guinea Conakry

H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia

H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic

H.E. CLAR WEAH, The First Lady of Liberia

H.E AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADO, The First Lady of Niger

H.E. HINDA DEBY ITNO, The First Lady of Chad

H.E. PROFESSOR GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA, The First Lady of Malawi

H.E FATIMA MAADA, The First Lady of Sierra Leone

H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOU-NGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo Brazzaville

H.E. DR. MAESAIAH THABANE, The First Lady of Lesotho

H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGW, The First Lady of Zimbabwe

H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana

H.E. KEÏTA AMINATA MAIGA, The First Lady of Mali

H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia

Merck Foundation is making history in many African countries where they never had fertility specialists or specialized fertility clinics before ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ intervention, to train the first fertility specialists such as; in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Niger, Chad, Guinea, Ethiopia and Uganda. 

Merck Foundation launched new innovative initiatives to sensitize local communities about infertility prevention, male infertility with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and empowering infertile women as part of Merck more than a Mother COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN, such as;

• Merck More than a Mother media recognition award and health media training 
• Merck More than a Mother fashion award 
• Merck More than a Mother film award 
• Local songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change it
• Children storybook, localized for each country


About Merck Foundation:
The Merck Foundation (Merck-Foundation.com), established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website.  Please visit www.Merck-Foundation.com to read more. To know more, reach out to our social media: Merck Foundation (Merck-Foundation.com), Facebook (bit.ly/2MmUl3p), Twitter (bit.ly/2NDqHLR), Instagram (https://bit.ly/2MtCKsu), YouTube (bit.ly/318obQe) and Flicker (bit.ly/2P7AICN).


About Merck:
Merck (MerckGroup.com) , a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 56,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – the company is everywhere. In 2018, Merck generated sales of € 14.8 billion in 66 countries.

Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to Merck’s technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck has thrived since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors of Merck operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Performance Materials.



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Ms. Kasonde Nkole, First Winner with the Model exhibiting outfit designed by her during the Zambia Fashion Week

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