Daniela Bermea (MSSW ’18) has been selected to receive an E.D. Farmer International Fellowship in the amount of $3,000 for research in Mexico during Summer 2017.

Bermea will be conducting research in Oaxaca at GESMujer, a leading NGO in the region that promotes gender equity and women’s health through media, training programs, and advocacy for policy and health services for women. She will document and analyze the community-based efforts of young indigenous women trained through GESMujer to address maternal mortality.

Daniela Bermea (second from right) with colleagues from the Oaxaca public hospital where she did rotations during her study abroad program
Daniela Bermea (second from right) with colleagues outside the Oaxaca public hospital where she did rotations during her study abroad program

“These women leaders have been trained to use effective strategies to promote women’s empowerment and teen pregnancy, to increase community awareness and management of high-risk pregnancies, and to make health services accessible, acceptable and appropriate for community needs. By analyzing their efforts, I hope to help identify innovative approaches to improving maternal health in resource-poor communities,” Bermea says.

In Summer 2016, Bermea spent six weeks in Oaxaca with a School of Social Work’s study abroad program focusing on global health equity.

“Daniela’s passion for working on maternal health builds on her experience last summer in Oaxaca, where she did clinical rotations in a hospital and a clinic,” says Melissa Smith, a senior lecturer at the School of Social Work and co-director of the Oaxaca Global Health Program. “She made a powerful video documenting this program, and has become involved in maternal health initiatives in Austin as well as in Oaxaca. Daniela is a remarkably talented student. Her transnational approach to understanding and addressing root causes of poor maternal health will provide important insights for efforts to promote maternal health equity on both sides of the border,”

“The Oaxaca program was eye-opening in many ways,” Bermea says. “The public hospital and the clinic where I did the rotations had very few resources, the staff members were overworked, and it was hard to see patients suffering from systemic issues. But we had our group to talk to, and the support network of the class. The realities in the quality and access to care motivates me even more to go into the area of maternal health to make a difference.”

The Texas Legislature created the E. D. Farmer International Fellowship with the purpose of building friendship and fostering goodwill between Texas and Mexico. This fellowship provides financial support to conduct research or fieldwork in Mexico or to undertake undergraduate or graduate studies or research activities at The University of Texas at Austin.