Credit: Corrie Wingate for Amref Health Africa UK
Image (c) Corrie Wingate for Amref Health Africa UK
Amref Health Africa is working towards achieving Universal Health Coverage by 2030. It’s an ambitious goal - and one that cannot be met unless the global health community puts women and girls at the heart of its efforts: if access to healthcare is to be universal, it must also be equitable.
Every day, women around the world make decisions that directly impact the health and wellbeing of their households, and their wider communities. Women not only give birth: they are, in most cases, the primary care givers to babies and children. They decide what their families will eat. They make choices about water, sanitation, and hygiene in the household. Women have a personal stake in the health, and the future, of their families and communities.
Yet in many parts of the world, women are disproportionately affected by inequalities in health. The biggest risk to the lives of teenage girls and women in the developing world today is pregnancy and childbirth. In too many cases, women are denied access to the information and services they need to be able to make choices about their health. They may face discrimination, endure assaults on their freedoms, or be subject to gender-based violence. Their voices may be silenced and their opportunities limited.
As we work towards achieving UHC in sub-Saharan Africa
, it is vital that Amref addresses the needs of the most vulnerable members of the communities we work with. Sadly, all too often, women and girls fall into this category.
But we also know that the power to effect lasting change lies with women and girls - and what's more, there's evidence that investing in women and girls works. When a ten-year-old girl in rural Tanzania transitions to adulthood without having to go through “the cut”, she can continue her schooling and go on to fulfil her personal and professional potential. When a woman in Kibera, the largest urban slum in Africa, gives birth with the support of a trained midwife, any complications can be immediately addressed - and her baby gets the best possible start in life.
Every year, Amref supports thousands of women working for change across sub-Saharan Africa. Part of our role at Amref UK is to celebrate and champion these inspiring advocates who, every day, are transforming the health, lives and prospects of their families and communities.
"If we want to change the world, we should invest in the people who already are […] Imagine how much more we can accomplish if the women who are doing so much to move the world forward finally have our full support behind them."
- Melinda Gates, writing in Time magazine, January 2018