In February of 2007, Chantal Gill’ard, a Dutch Labor Party Member of Parliament and spokesperson for development cooperation and medical ethics, made a call for coordinated action around MDG5 on Dutch TV. A few months later, on May 12th of 2007, a number of organizations now participating in the MDG5 Meshwork for Improving Maternal Health organized the first Mother’s Night, calling for more awareness on the health of mothers, supported by the former Dutch Minister of Development Cooperation Bert Koenders as one of the guest speakers. The month after, Chantal Gill’ard hosted a meeting with the intended partner organizations in the offices of the Dutch Parliament to prepare for the Schokland Agreement. After exploring each organization's contribution and commitment, it was decided to draft and sign a Schokland Agreement together. On June 30th, 2007, the Agreement was signed by Bert Koenders, former Minister for Development Coordination, Jet Bussemaker, former State secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport, and the partner organizations, with the goal of effectively making use of each partner’s strengths and networks, and focusing these in functional and effective partnerships.

In the course of the following months, these partners explored their strengths and needs, making explicit both their own interest and the MDG5 Meshwork’s common interest. The partners met in September (½ day) and November (2 days + evening) of 2007 to develop a shared understanding and open up a space for high-bandwidth collaboration. As a result, ten working groups were formed, focusing on specific themes and challenges, including a learning journey to Sierra Leone to explore opportunities for strengthening local midwifery, the development of a heat-stable Oxytocin, shared knowledge and performance management, and the development of the Mother’s Night concept as an instrument for regional, national and international advocacy around maternal health.

This process resulted in the formulation of five projects with different partners from Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and The Netherlands, from both the public and the private sector:
1. Reduction of maternal mortality in Afghanistan;
2. Reduction of maternal mortality in Sierra Leone;
3. Mother's Night, national continuation and international expansion of the concept;
4. Development of heat-stable Oxytocin;
5. Stimulating Linking & Learning between the partners and projects of the MDG5 Meshwork.

Read more about the partners and projects on this website.