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11.03.2015 Category: News

Silke Mader becomes Ashoka Fellow

As a “founder for the good cause”, Silke Mader receives the most valuable promotion for Social Entrepreneurs – Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi attended the award ceremony in Berlin.

Berlin/Munich, 11 March 2015 – Silke Mader, co-founder and chairwoman of EFCNI’s Executive Board became an Ashoka Fellow on March 10, 2015. For more than 30 years, Ashoka supports in more than 80 countries pioneers of society who solve societal problems with innovative approaches. Kailash Satyarthi, the 2014 Nobel Prize laureate, himself a pioneer and since 1993 part of the Ashoka network, was a guest during the award ceremony.

It is now nearly 25 years that the Nobel Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi joined Ashoka’s global network for social entrepreneurs as an Ashoka fellow. On March 10, 2015, he was the special guest, when EFCNI’s chairwoman Silke Mader, was awarded the prestigious fellowship together with four other founder personalities. “Ashoka Fellows’ innovations have already established citizen-owned green energy, business start-ups as an escape from unemployment and new professions for people with disabilities. At Ashoka, we bet on the potential of an idea – and provide support for the sometimes long way to its breakthrough” says Ashoka Director Europe Felix Oldenburg.

Europe needs new ideas and solutions particularly with respect to newborn health: Worldwide, one baby in ten is born preterm every year, about 500,000 children in Europe alone and their number continues to grow. Although it often does not lead to further long-term problems, more than 60% of all deaths in children under five are caused by preterm birth; many affected children and their families feel the consequences for their entire life.

The treatment and care of preterm and newborn children – and the standard for it - vary strongly between countries, regions and even hospitals. As a mother of preterm born twins, Silke Mader experienced this challenge first hand – and has since campaigned for the smallest members of our society. After having led self-help groups and patient organisations for many years, she realised that the challenges in prevention, treatment and care as well as follow-up of preterm children could only be solved by thinking big: internationally, across the disciplines, unified.

Together with, an affected father, and a neonatologist, she founded EFCNI in 2008. Since then, she has been campaigning successfully for the professionalization of and networking among European parent organisations. This is an important prerequisite to enable parent organisations to work at eye level with professional societies, clinicians and politicians to shape the care and treatment for preterm and newborn infants. 

Through the benchmarking report “Too little too late” and the EFCNI White Paper with a set of medical and political recommendations, EFCNI achieved that the topic was put on the European political health agenda. On a global level, EFCNI initiated World Prematurity Day on 17 November which directs the attention of millions of people to preterm birth.

With the support of the Ashoka Fellowship, Silke Mader and EFCNI will receive comprehensive pro bono consulting as well as international network with like-minded companies and partners. “I am very proud and grateful to join the worldwide network of Ashoka fellows today. This is a great opportunity not only for me but also for the common objective and vision of many: to enable each child in Europe to the best start in life”, says Silke Mader. “Preterm birth is not a marginal phenomenon; babies born too early are Europe’s largest child patient group. But still, these children and their parents receive too little political support and above all, they lack the backing in society. That is something we want to change”, she adds.

Together with Silke Mader, four other founders joined the Ashoka Fellowship: Mira Maier, mystipendium.de, Roman R. Rüdiger, buddY E.V. – Forum neue Lernkultur, Annette Habert Flechtwerk 2+1 and Jacob Radloff oekom verlag / oekom research.

Photo: Courtesy of Christian Klant Photography

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