Traci L. Baird, President and CEO,
Trends that you see in Gender Empowerment today
I think that the world is making a lot of progress in gender empowerment and we can see that as evidence by changes in the parliamentary and government levels in a number of countries. I was recently in Ethiopia where they are working towards gender parody in their government and their parliament recently elected the first female president who was gracious enough to sit and talk with me about the priority of gender equality. We know that in Canada Justin Trudeau prioritized the gender balanced cabinets and when he was asked why, he said “its because it’s 2015” and the room broke into an applause.
We also know that despite electing record numbers of women to the House of Representatives in the United States, we still have less than a quarter of the members of the house in the US who are females. Until all girls and women can see themselves represented at the highest levels of their national government. I think it is hard for everybody to feel that they can participate fully in civil society.
So, I think we are making great progress and great strides. It’s an indicator as well of the distance we have yet to go.
lease elaborate on the work being carried out by EngenderHealth, globally and in India
We are celebrating our 75th anniversary this year. We are a non-profit international organization that has a history of working on family planning programmes. We have expanded over the last several years to focus more on a broader sexual and reproductive health. We have programmes in African- Asia and when we focus in many of these programmes on reproductive health, we ensure that we are doing so while also connecting our work to gender-based violence, links to HIV AIDS programmes and services that addresses cervical cancer and works on safe abortion and post abortion care.
So, we do all of these things in a number of places, working closely with governments and with local partners to ensure women and girls have the ability to access sexually reproductive health services and ensure they can grow up healthy.
Your views on Quality of Work
At EngenderHealth, we take high-quality services and the development of quality very seriously. The fact that it’s a hallmark of our work globally and it is something we are known for, and we are proud of that. We start by first assessing what the gaps are in quality as measured against international global standards but also the requirements of the Ministry of Health and the priorities of a specific area and facility. We make sure that there are trainers and healthcare providing training that meets all of the standards and ensures that people really learn the skills that we are trying to convey.
So, we will do on the job training and coaching to ensure that the skills are really absorbed and taken on in the location where those healthcare providers will be providing family planning or reproductive health services. We then ensure there is follow up, coaching and supervision in a very facilitative way so that we are monitoring constantly the quality of services being provided. As we do this, we are building the capacity of the Ministry of Health and health service at every level – the state, the district and immediate facility level so that they can continue to assess and address quality even beyond the lifespan of a project. Quality to us also has a lot to do with counselling.
We emphasize a approach to counselling that is very responsive to woman’s needs, helps educate her about her choices, supports her in her decision making and then supports her in the implementation of her choice of a family planning method. So, it’ not just giving her information and hoping she has the confidence and knowledge to make a choice, but really supporting that whole process.
Here in India, it often involves supporting the process of her decision with her family and husband, in particular. So, we really respect every women’s choice, but the quality of the counselling is what is going to get us there. We also pay attention to the quality of the infection prevention and the facility, the supplies, the system, the monitoring, the data. If we don’t have high-quality data, it’s difficult to make decisions based on that data.
So, quality links very closely with our theme of capacity building so there are sustainable services in the public sector well beyond the lifespan of any particular project.
Your activities and programmes in India
We have been in India for a number of years and we are currently working in 5 states. We have an adolescent health project the state of Bihar, we are working on family planning and a project in Gujarat and another project that’s in Karnataka and Maharashtra. In those projects we are introducing some modern methods of family planning that have been approved by the Government or have been identified as methods that need more support to ensure that women have real access to them.
We work very closely with the Central Government and follow their stewardship and partner with State governments as we implement projects to improve the quality of family planning and related services. We do this because we really want to make sure that women have the opportunity to be fully healthy, live to their full potential and promote gender equality women empowerment across India.
Your Karnataka Project
The project there is remarkable. We are in 14 districts in Karnataka. We are working in districts that are considered the highest priority because they are the lowest performing in certain healthcare indicators. Although Karnataka’s health-system is well developed, there are disparities and it’s important to us and the state government that we not leave women behind. In those 14 districts we are working in 60 health facilities, training healthcare providers and full range of everything they need to provide high-quality family planning service.
We emphasize counselling and helping women know all of their choices to make a free and voluntary informed decision. We ensure high-quality service provision itself and very good infection prevention, record keeping and management of services. Part of the project also works with community health workers, the Ashas. The assistant nurses, these are thousand of women who are the real strong link between the healthcare facilities and women in the families. So, with those partners we are ensuring that women know about the services that are available to them and they have the confidence to go and seek those services.
While we were in Karnataka, we had the pleasure and honour to meet the Chief Minister and Health Minister who re-emphasized their support for healthcare and especially the family planning programme in the state. It is an honour to make sure we are partnering with them. Our other main partner in the project is Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that is supporting the project within Karnataka and Maharashtra, and allowing us to partner with the Government to make the kind of difference that we are.
Your Future Plans
We are very interested in learning from all of the work that we do and part of what we are learning is how we can make sure that every opportunity at every intersection, we are finding ways to address some of the disparities in gender equity, the communities where we are working and the healthcare facilities themselves.
We are also very interested in expanding a lot of the work that we do with adolescents and young people, also to those who have less access and inclusions already in the healthcare system in India. We are looking at more opportunities to work in those communities and populations.
Lastly, we are always looking at opportunities to expand the geography of our work. We know there is still some areas of high-med need and there are other fantastic development partners working with Ministry of Health to address some of those needs, but some are not being met. Hence, it is important to us to lift up all women and girls in the country to have them fully participate in the society and live to their full potentials.
Source : https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/industry/we-want-women-to-be-fully-healthy-live-to-their-full-potential-and-promote-gender-equality-traci-l-baird/67826273