Large-scale statistics are rarely if ever able to evoke the same emotional response as a personal story. It’s why TV news features and magazine profiles so often introduce us to the individuals behind the numbers of societal issues like unemployment, disease, and victims of war.
To draw attention to the cause of sexual and reproductive rights, and to humanize the staggering statistic that 300,000 women die from pregnancy-related complications or unsafe abortions every year, Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) enlisted agency BETC Paris and production company B-Reel to put real names to the numbers.
On International Women’s Day (March 8), the organization launched its “Names Not Numbers” campaign with an experiential installation called the “Machine of Death” on the streets of Paris. Every minute the device would print on a postcard the name of an actual woman who has died in childbirth or during an unsafe abortion. Onlookers had one minute to claim the card before it was dropped into a bin, to be forgotten. Each card featured methods for helping the problem and people were asked to sign and send it to local officials or to UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon.
The campaign continues on the HTML5 site that brings the Machine of Death online. After watching the short film about the Paris installation, viewers have one minute to digitally retrieve and send a card to those in power and post about it on social media.