It may not win a Grammy, but Merck KGaA has bigger aspirations for its latest original song. That is, raising awareness around male infertility and fighting the stigma of female infertility in Africa.
Launched through Merck’s philanthropic arm, the Merck Foundation collaborated with Rwandan singer and songwriter Tom Close to create the song “Life is Bigger” with the message that both men and women can be infertile. It is the third original song in its “More Than a Mother” campaign from Merck, meant to emphasize that life is about more than just being a father or a mother.
“We strongly believe involving art and especially music and songs is the correct strategy to create a culture shift and change mindset specially with regards to youth,” said a Merck spokesman in an email interview. “We are certain that this song will add significant value to influence the culture change we are advocating in the African countries and rest of the world, which is women are more than just mothers but productive members in society who deserve to be respected whether they have children or not.”
Previous songs under the campaign are the theme song “More Than a Mother” by an up-and-coming singer from Sierra Leone and “Worriers” from well-known Kenyan singer Suzanna Owiyo. More are planned with the goal to develop one from each country and in the French language as well.
As part of the effort, Merck is promoting the message with the hashtags #MenToo and #NoToInfertilityStigma on social media. Merck is a global leader in fertility treatments that include fertility drug Gonal-f. The company reported total fertility vertical sales of €301 million in the most recent second quarter.
Infertility is most often blamed on women in Africa, and in some cultures they may even suffer violence. The Merck More Than a Mother campaign, begun in 2015, seeks to change that by promoting the responsibility of both men and women and encouraging respect for women whether they are mothers or not, the spokesman said. Along with the awareness effort, the foundation offers skills, training, advocacy and support for childless women.
“It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child. And about improving their access to quality and equitable fertility care when needed,” he said.