Disrespect and abuse during childbirth was widely known, but not named. Little public health evidence existed beyond project reports and a handful of peer-reviewed articles. There was a need to capture the breadth and scope of disrespectful and abusive maternity care. A name and frame for the issue was needed to foster collaboration and engagement of advocates, researchers and practitioners and policymakers. The strategy was to then launch advocacy and research efforts in parallel— to generate demand for evidence-based action.