By: Hayley Hoaglund, MPH/MBA candidate at JHU and a WI-HER Intern Gender-based violence (GBV) affects millions of women and men worldwide. In Kenya, its implications are long lasting and devastating, as physical violence affects 49% of girls and 48% of boys aged 13-17 years, and sexual violence affects 11% of girls and 4% of boys, according to Brookings. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence has been exacerbated through stay-at-home orders. These numbers are underreported due to the fear and stigma that often accompanies violence. GBV poses a substantial threat to the growth and prosperity of adolescents and children, and in recognizing this, WI-HER, through the USAID funded Afya Nyota ya Bonde Project, applied WI-HER’s innovative iDARE methodology to improve the identification and management of cases through survivor centered care models. […]
“Evidence suggests that women in Ebonyi have limited access to assets and financial resources, and also experience concerning levels of controlling behaviors in marital relationships. Women face restrictive norms that limit their ability to make decisions about their own wellbeing, finances, and health. Women’s subordinate status also exposes them to risk of gender-based violence, and Ebonyi has some of the highest levels of sexual violence in the country. While men have greater decision-making power and access to resources, the limited evidence available suggests that norms about masculinity deter men from seeking health services and can also encourage them to participate in high-risk behaviors like unprotected sexual activity. Youth in Ebonyi have few opportunities for education or economic independence and have limited knowledge of and access to health services, especially for sexual and reproductive health services.” – Desk Review on Gender and Social Inclusion Issues Affecting Health in Ebonyi State, Nigeria When WI-HER expanded our work in Nigeria to Ebonyi State in 2020, we immediately began gathering evidence and information to learn more about gender, social inclusion, and health in Ebonyi. We asked ourselves key questions: Who uses the health system? Who has access to resources? What unique risks and barriers do marginalized groups face? How can we harness opportunities to overcome challenges and barriers? […]
By: Emilia Eyo Okon, Gender, Social Inclusion, & Community Engagement Advisor, WI-HER On the USAID Integrated Health Program (IHP) in Nigeria, led by Palladium, WI-HER prioritizes the inclusion of beneficiaries in its efforts to support the state to strengthen the health system and improve access to and quality of health services. As such, during the development of the Ebonyi State Strategy for Gender in Health, WI-HER’s Gender, Social Inclusion, and Community Engagement (GSI&CE) Advisor Emilia Eyo Okon advocated to invite beneficiaries of the health system to the Gender Desk Review Dissemination and Strategy Development Workshop and other planning meetings so their voices could be heard. Several beneficiaries were able to attend, including adolescents and youth. Emilia Okon held a short interview with Chukwu Onyinyechi, one of the adolescents who attended the strategy development workshop, to talk about herself, her experience during the meeting, and how this has impacted her life. Emilia Okon (E.O.): Tell us about yourself. Ms. Onyinyechi shares her thoughts during the workshop. Chukwu Onyinyechi: My name is Chukwu Onyinyechi. I am 19 years from Ohoazara Local Government Area (LGA) in Ebonyi State. I am currently a student studying English and Literature in the Ebonyi State University. I also volunteer my time as a gender desk officer for an organization called Health for the Society Justice and Peace Initiative. I am a young mother who had a child as a teenager. […]
By Aisha Ahmed, WI-HER, Gender, Social Inclusion and Community Engagement Advisor for USAID IHP in Sokoto State, Nigeria “A young girl had an obstetric fistula at a young age. She was married and pregnant. Unfortunately, the girl was living with her mother in-law because her husband had travelled to make ends meet in another State. Her mother in-law did not give permission for her to be taken to the hospital when she was in labor. The girl spent three days in labor and was later put to bed. After some days she began leaking and even lost the baby. She smelled of urine every day, and as a result was divorced by her husband and left in a pathetic state.” – Hajiya Asabe, Family Planning Focal Person of the Sokoto State Primary Health Care Development Agency (SSPHCDA) IHP GSI&CE Advisor, Aisha Ahmed, stands for violence against violence against women in all its forms! The above story is sadly not a rarity in Sokoto, but an all too true reality for hundreds of girls and women in the State. The complications of obstetric fistula, both physical and psychosocial, are debilitating to women. The uncontrollable leaking of urine or feces gives women an unpleasant odor, and they can experience ostracism from their family and friends. This ostracization can lead to divorce or separation, depression, or exclusion from social activities, which can in turn affect the woman’s financial outcomes if her condition is a cause of her unemployment. […]
February 4th, 2021 A Letter to My Fellow Humans, Alison LeFew, WI-HER’s Senior Director for Program Growth and Partnerships Beginning this year, every February 4th we will mark the International Day of Human Fraternity. Today we celebrate the incredible physical, cultural, religious, and spiritual diversity of the human race and the dream that, collectively, we humans strive for inclusivity as the pathway to peace, equity, and freedom. Over the last year, a lot of scary things have happened. Many people have suffered because of violence, sickness, loneliness, and hunger. Many people have been hurt because of the color of their skin or because of who they love or because of the God they choose to worship. Many people are not heard at all when they whisper or even cry out for help. Addressing these injustices is complicated and will require hard work from all of us. In Amanda Gorman’s brilliant words: “For there is always light; If only we’re brave enough to see it; If only we’re brave enough to be it.” In my day job, I have the opportunity to work for an inspiring leader, Dr. Taroub Faramand, toward achieving WI-HER’s mission: to employ an integrated, multi-sectoral approach that links health with education, rule of law, and agriculture to improve outcomes and achieve sustained development, leading to better, healthier lives for women and men, and girls and boys. We are committed to the rights of all peoples, indiscriminate of sex, race, religion, sexuality, economic level, or disability; and we give voice to those most marginalized. The world will continue to be scary at times, but I invite you to join me today as I look in the mirror and tell myself: I am worthy of love and respect, and I will love and respect others. I have great ideas, and I will listen to other people’s ideas. I am curious, and I will be patient as I seek answers about things that I don’t understand. I am strong, and I will support people who need help. I practice science, and I will share what I learn with others. Peace Be With You, Alison LeFew
Source: DHIS2 Since August 2020 – through the USAID Social Behavior Change Activity – WI-HER has been working closely with USAID Regional Health Integration to Enhance Services in Eastern Uganda (RHITES-East) Project and Tororo District’s Nagongera health center (HC) IV facility staff to address poor viral suppression rates (Table 1). HIV positive clients of Nagongera HC IV were missing appointments and not adhering to antiretroviral therapy (ART) required to achieve viral suppression. […]
By: Aisha Ahmed, Gender, Social Inclusion and Community Engagement Advisor, Sokoto State, Nigeria USAID IHP brought together program officers from different ministries, departments, and agencies to ensure that activities included in the annual operational plan (AOP) were realistic and also gender responsive. Sexual, reproductive, and maternal health issues are affecting women in Sokoto state, Nigeria. Unsafe sex and fistula are major risk factors, particularly among women and girls. This is why the USAID Integrated Health Program (IHP) is working tirelessly with the State Ministry of Health, State Primary Health Care, and Ministry of Women and Children Affairs to strengthen health systems and ensure that sexual and reproductive health services are utilized by women in need of contraception or other relevant services. The program is working hard to ensure that Sokoto state has a robust financing system and a sufficient number of well-trained, motivated health workers. In previous years, the State picked a handful of directors and a consultant to draw up the annual operational plan, but that didn’t really reflect the reality on the ground nor develop the activities necessary to address the needs of the State and the communities they served. In 2020, IHP brought together program officers from different ministries, departments, and agencies to ensure that activities included in the annual operational plan (AOP) were realistic and also gender responsive to the needs of the State. It was also the first time that female officers were part of the AOP development; these officers included activities that they felt would improve the health services, and ultimately the health indices, in the state.
By Stella Abah, Gender, Social Inclusion, & Community Engagement Advisor, IHP Kebbi State, Nigeria Engaging men as fathers during pregnancy is a positive entry point to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH) as well as couple relations. Men’s greater involvement in RMNCH can also open opportunities to improve men’s own sexual and reproductive health, disrupt intergenerational cycles of violence, and promote men’s roles as advocates for maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Gender inequality negatively impacts the health of women and children, including during pregnancy and the perinatal period, and there are multiple pathways linking gender inequity to poor health outcomes for women and men. In June 2020, Gender, Social Inclusion, and Community Engagement Advisor Stella Abah facilitated a three-day workshop to engage stakeholders in designing and implementing activities to engage men within the health facility and address factors to reduce barriers to maternal and child health service utilization by men and women. Involving men in the health of women and newborns around the time of childbirth as partners and agents of change – including but not limited to supporting women during and after pregnancy; helping seek skilled care for the birth, newborn care, nutrition, and safe family planning after childbirth; and maternal mental health – has the potential to directly address systematic and pervasive negative gender influences on RMNCH outcomes in Kebbi state. […]