4M stands for My Health, My Choice, My Child, My Life.
At 4M, we believe we are the experts in the perinatal mentor mother peer support we need. 4M focuses on realising and upholding our sexual and reproductive health and rights for life – not just for pregnancy.
Our approach is holistic – it’s about our minds and spirit, not just our bodies.
It’s collaborative – we work closely with clinicians, organisations in the HIV sector, and organisations focused on housing, immigration, domestic violence, mental health, and other issues affecting women’s lives.
And it’s about building the movement for women’s rights, including the rights of women living with HIV.
Initially, from around 2012 to 2015, 4M was largely a UK-wide initiative developed by Angelina Namiba, funded as a Positively UK Project, ‘From Pregnancy to Baby and Beyond’.
In 2016 and beyond, it then became a Salamander Trust project – 4M Project – for which further funding was sourced to provide a residential training programme to equip women living with HIV to support and mentor other women going through the perinatal journey whilst living with HIV.
During 2017, the programme also extending its services to training workshops in Kenya and Uganda (known as 4M+.
In 2019, after a long history of work to deliver the 4M programme under the auspices of Positively UK and Salamander Trust, we registered 4M Mentor Mothers Network Community Interest Company.
Our directors are Black women living with HIV from migrant backgrounds. Our advisory steering group includes Mentor Mothers, clinicians, academics and researchers.
There are other Mentor Mother programmes around the world – but not enough of them. In many cases, they are clinician-led and have a biomedical focus on preventing vertical transmission and ensuring treatment adherence. Whilst these are, of course, important issues, they are only a small part of what needs to be in place to enable these issues to be achieved.
Our evaluations show that 4M’s perinatal mentor mother peer support has multiple benefits for the well-being of pregnant women living with HIV and their babies.
4M is centred on the principles of the 2017 WHO Consolidated Guideline on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of Women living with HIV. These principles are rights-based, gender-equitable and women-centred. 4M’s holistic approach, led by women living with HIV, recognises intersectionalities that exist for women and uses a trauma-informed approach to address these.
4M’s work contributes to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals with special emphasis on quality education (SDG4), good health and wellbeing (SDG3), gender equality (SDG5), and reduced inequalities (SDG10). It supports the Respectful Maternity Care Charter.