Last week, Administrator Shah at the United States Insittute for Peace, launched a five-year program targeting the education, promotion, and training of a new generation of Afghan women, aged 18-30. Named “Promote,” the program’s goal is to increase women’s contributions to Afghanistan’s development by strengthening women’s rights groups, boosting female participation in the economy, increasing the number of women in decision making positions within the Afghan government, and helping women gain business and management skills. Learn more about “Promote” in this clip from BBC World News.
Archives for Women
A newly released nationwide health survey of Haiti shows continuing positive trends on key health-care indicators in particular those of Haitian women and children. The latest survey, undertaken by the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population, was conducted in 2012 and compares with the prior survey done in 2006. It shows steady improvements among key indicators despite significant health challenges in Haiti due to the 2010 earthquake and cholera outbreak. Of note were improved indicators for child vaccination and malnutrition, infant and child mortality, women’s health and contraception use. The report indicated no increase in HIV prevalence, which remained steady.
The Morbidity, Mortality, and Service Utilization Survey measures progress and setbacks in health outcomes over the years. The results were announced July 9 by Dr. Florence Guillaume Duperval, Haiti’s Minister of Public Health and Population. The survey has been administered in Haiti five times since 1994.
The previous survey was administered in Haiti between 2005 and 2006; this latest survey was conducted from January 2012 to June 2012. Over 13,000 households participated in the current survey, representing rural and urban areas in all of Haiti’s 10 departments, including camps for people displaced by the January 2010 earthquake. The results were eagerly anticipated by health experts concerned of possible setbacks brought on by the devastating quake, which killed more than 230,000 people and displaced more than 1.5 million.
However, the survey results show that many health outcomes have improved in Haiti. The data collected in the survey show improvements in women’s health, improved nutritional status among the population, and an increase in use of contraceptive methods. Currently, more than two-thirds of pregnant Haitians have made the recommended number of antenatal visits, an increase from 50 percent in 2006; the prevalence of anemia among women has declined from 55 percent in 2000 to 49 percent in 2012; and the use of modern contraceptive methods among married women has increased from 22 percent to 31 percent between 2000 and 2012.
Health data for children also showed positive results. Childhood vaccinations increased from 53 percent in 2006 to 62.5 percent in 2012. With regard to nutrition, the survey showed that 22 percent of children under 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition, a decrease from 29 percent in 2006. The survey also revealed a decrease in acute malnutrition from 10 percent in 2006 to 5 percent in 2012 and a decrease in percent of children underweight from 18 percent to 11 percent.
Childhood mortality has decreased in Haiti over the last 15 years. Survey results show that infant mortality has decreased from 79 to 59 deaths for 1,000 live births. In addition, mortality for children under 5 has also decreased from 112 deaths to 88 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Among other results, the survey revealed that the HIV prevalence among those ages 15-59 have remained the same: 2.7 percent among women and 1.7 percent among men.
USAID is working closely with the Government of Haiti to continue to improve health outcomes for all Haitians. “The information in this survey forces us to continue to work together, to strengthen our interventions and our methods so that progress in the health sector in Haiti is sustained,” said Marc Desjardins, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, during the July 9 event.
USAID’s goal is to improve access to health care services and build the Government of Haiti’s capacity to manage and oversee its health programs. Currently, about 50 percent of the population has access to a vast network of USAID-sponsored health facilities throughout the country that provide core health services such as maternal and child health, family planning, and nutrition. In addition, diagnostic and treatment services for tuberculosis and HIV and AIDS services can be accessed at these health facilities. HIV and AIDS services include access to antiretroviral therapy, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, palliative care, and voluntary testing and counseling. USAID programs aim to reduce risky behaviors and maintaining people living with HIV and AIDS on treatment.
Much remains to be done in Haiti. For example, despite high levels of knowledge of family planning, only 35 percent of married women are using any method and 31 percent are using a modern method. However, the positive health trends revealed by this data shows that Haiti continues to move forward despite the earthquake, the ongoing cholera epidemic, and many other challenges that threaten health outcomes. These results are a testament to the hard work and strong commitment of all of those who work to build a better Haiti.
This survey was funded by USAID, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Global Fund the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria through the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP), and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
The fifth Morbidity, Mortality, and Service Utilization Survey combined with the Multiple Cluster Indicator Survey (MICS) was conducted by the Haitian Childhood Institute [l’Institut Haïtien de l’Enfance (IHE)] in collaboration with the Haitian Statistical and Information Technology Institute [l’Institut Haïtien de Statistiques et d’Informatique (IHSI)]. This survey was supported by the Ministry of Public Health and Population [Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population (MSPP)], benefited from the technical assistance of the Demographic and Health Surveys program (MEASURE DHS), which is implemented by ICF International.
This originally appeared on The Huffington Post Blog.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if your work really makes a difference. Three months after the London Summit on Family Planning, I led a delegation of UNFPA supporters to Ghana. We saw a diverse and inspiring range of maternal health programs — from government hospitals to an entrepreneurial midwife who designed and produced birthing stools with the help of a local carpenter.
In Tamale, we visited a brand new Marie Stopes clinic fully stocked with a range of modern contraceptive methods. It was located in the heart of the city, at a vibrant, open air market that stands at the crossroads of three ancient trade routes. For the women and men who work there, the clinic could not be more convenient — they could easily dash off for an appointment or for supplies.
From there we flew north to Bolgatanga, then traveled by bus towards the border with Burkina Faso. As we drove, the tarmac gave way to unpaved roads. Cracks became grooves, and grooves became ditches. As the hours passed, the villages became smaller and the distance between them grew. Wherever we were headed, it felt worlds away from the hustle and bustle of Tamale.
Finally we arrived at our destination: a plain, L-shaped building in a small compound. It was a Planned Parenthood of Ghana clinic that provides an integrated mix of family planning and other health education and services.
Despite its remoteness, we were greeted with as much enthusiasm and excitement as we felt in Tamale. About 200 people — village elders, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, children — had come out to show support for their clinic. They told us about the difference the clinic was making in their lives. In this isolated location, it was their only source of medical care.
But as we toured the facility, I happened to notice one person who wasn’t taking part in the excitement. Her name was Afia, and she sat very quietly, in a corner, on a hard wooden bench. A midwife was by her side.
Afia’s face was etched in pain, but her cries were muted. With quiet dignity, and few of the trappings that attend births in countries like my own, I found out she was in labor to deliver her first child.
As a mother myself, I knew how scared she must have felt. I also knew that in Ghana, for every 100,000 women who go into labor, 350 die giving birth or because of pregnancy-related complications. The statistics can be numbing.
Afia remained on my mind and two days later, I learned she had a lovely baby girl, and both mother and child were happy and most importantly, healthy.
I know that in the coming months and years, the clinic will help Afia keep herself and her baby healthy, and will give her the contraceptives she needs to plan her family and her future.
Our work does make a difference. This is what Family Planning 2020 is all about: reaching women, no matter where they live, with the information, services and supplies they need. Program by program, clinic by clinic, and woman by woman.
One year after the London Summit on Family Planning, I am pleased to report that FP2020 continues to build the foundations of a global movement and is accelerating progress towards achieving our goal of reaching an additional 120 million women with lifesaving contraceptive information, services and supplies by 2020.
Countries are championing the cause — over twenty governments have already made commitments and a few more are gearing up to do so. National, costed family planning plans are being drafted and implemented, new health laws are being passed and service delivery barriers are being addressed. Price-reduction agreements on long-acting, reversible contraceptive implants and the scale-up in delivery of discreet, injectable contraceptives ensures that millions of women will be able to access a range of family planning methods. We’ve improved relations with allies, built and strengthened new partnerships, and established our global governance framework. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished together.
And yet, I remain acutely aware that the work of FP2020 has only just begun. We have so much more to do to ensure that family planning remains front and center on the global development agenda. This will require even stronger international partnerships to uphold and guard the unified aspirations of millions of women and girls to chart their own future.
Women like Afia are depending on us to keep the promises we made one year ago at the London Summit. As we move forward into the second year of FP2020, I am convinced and confident that working together, we shall.
Approximately 16 million girls ages 15 to 19 (most of them already married) give birth each year. On July 11, World Population Day, we join the global community in raising awareness on the issue of adolescent pregnancy in the hopes of protecting and empowering millions of girls around the globe.
Adolescent pregnancy has dire health, social and economic consequences for girls, their communities, and nations. Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death for girls ages 15 to 19 in low-and middle-income countries. Stillbirths and death are 50 per cent more likely for babies born to mothers younger than 20 than for babies born to mothers in their 20s. We know that girls who become pregnant often face discrimination within their communities, drop out of school, and have more children at shorter intervals throughout their lifetime. A World Bank study (PDF) found that the lifetime opportunity cost related to adolescent pregnancy in developing countries ranges from 10 percent of annual GDP in Brazil to 30 percent of annual GDP in Uganda.
I believe meeting the reproductive health needs for today’s young people is vital to ensure future generations are able to lead healthy and dignified lives. In developing countries overall, 22 per cent of adolescent girls (aged 15-19) who are married or in union use contraceptives, compared to 61 percent of married girls and women aged 15-49 (PDF). Lack of information, fear of side effects, and other barriers—geographic, social, and economic—prevent young people from obtaining and using family planning methods.
It’s appropriate that this World Population Day also marks a year since the historic London Summit on Family Planning, and the launch of Family Planning 2020. This global partnership supports the right of women and girls to decide, freely, and for themselves, whether, when, and how many children they want to have. I am proud to be on the Reference Group of the Family Planning 2020 initiative (PDF) that aims to enable 120 million more women and girls to access family planning information and services by 2020.
As the largest bilateral donor for family planning, USAID is uniquely poised to accelerate progress and improve education and access to reproductive health services for youth. We support programs and research on adolescent health and development, and we have approaches that work to improve knowledge and change behaviors. Our programs focus on gender equality, because we know that boys and men who have access to reproductive health information and services are better able to protect their own health, support their partners, and participate in planning of their future and that of their families.
USAID is committed to protecting reproductive rights for all people and especially for the world’s adolescents and youth. Young people are the future, and we want and need their valued contributions to and participation in the social, economic, political, and cultural life of their communities.
This originally appeared on DipNote.
“¡Eres maravillosa!” (You’re wonderful!)
Repeating this mantra in unison as they received their certificates, each of the 14 women civil society leaders – lawyers, social workers and psychologists, academics and student leaders – from Central America and the Dominican Republic, affirmed one other’s work to eliminate gender-based violence (GBV) in the region. For the participants of Mujeres Adelante (Women Moving Forward), the past two weeks had been a whirlwind of meetings with local, state, and federal government officials, coalitions and advocacy organizations, as well as NGO service providers. This final affirmation was a reminder of how important the issue and each participant’s individual contribution to its elimination truly is.
The 2013 class of Mujeres Adelante included participants from El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. For each of them, the two weeks in the United States — first in Seattle, and then in Washington, DC. — were both a respite from the daily and very real threat of working on GBV and an occasion to strengthen the women’s ongoing commitment to the issue. Approximately 30 percent of women in the Americas have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse at the hands of a partner, or sexual abuse by a non-partner. Strikingly, and unique to Central America, two out of three women murdered are killed for a gender-related reason. This program provided the participants an opportunity to highlight the scourge of GBV in their home countries, and access new tools they could use upon their return home.
“Working [on GBV] is incredibly difficult,” one participant said. “Sometimes, we don’t get to the victim in time to help her. Sometimes, there is a lack of will [by authorities] to respond, and always, there is a lack of resources. That is why alliances like these are so important, so we can work together better.”
Launched in October 2012 by the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, in collaboration with the Seattle International Foundation and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Mujeres Adelante is a network of Central American and Dominican women leaders who work to:
- Raise awareness of the pervasiveness of GBV as well as awareness of women’s rights and available resources;
- Increase governments’ accountability for preventing, responding to and addressing GBV;
- Share best practices on service provision and advocacy efforts; and
- Facilitate ongoing networking, skills and capacity-building of women in their home countries.
The United States has made preventing and responding to gender-based violence a cornerstone of our commitment to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. The United States Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally and the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security recognize that gender-based violence is a human rights abuse and a manifestation of the low status of women and girls around the world. Working together, we can ensure that women and girls live up to their true potential and live lives free of violence – and are able to contribute fully to their families, communities, and economies.
As my final tour with USAID winds down in the coming months, I can step aside with pride and confidence in the work we’re doing on the African continent to increase food security and nutrition. Having worked in Africa for much of the past 30 years, I am firmly convinced that the Agency’s new focus on modernizing and improving agricultural technologies through Feed the Future, President Obama’s global hunger and food security initiative, is having a demonstrable impact.
Here in Senegal, recent statistics indicate a near-doubling of yields in rain-fed rice, from about 1 ton per hectare to 1.82 tons. In some of the country’s most vulnerable areas, undernutrition has been reduced by a large margin in the last year.
What makes these and other statistics really exciting is an opportunity some USAID Mission Directors don’t get in their entire career: a chance to exhibit some of our major successes to the President of the United States himself, who made Senegal the first stop on his second trip to Africa last week.
While here, President Obama toured the Feed the Future Agricultural Technology Marketplace, where at each stop he was able to see how agricultural research and innovation are helping West African farmers to increase incomes and nutrition for their families.
At one booth, Anna Gaye, an entrepreneur, demonstrated how switching to a small-scale, efficient rice mill and an improved rice variety has tripled yields in her region and freed up her time for alternative activities.
At another booth, Pierre Ndiaye, the owner and operator of a factory producing a popular nutritious yogurt-and-millet porridge, explained how USAID helps smallholder producers create his product. We support women’s producer groups around the country to grow quality millet, providing employment to hundreds of women who produce the porridge for local schoolchildren to get a nutritious meal every day.
We were also excited to demonstrate how nutrient fortification of Senegal’s staple foods can result in a radical decrease in undernutrition. Nutrition plays a critically important role in the Feed the Future approach, and fortified food can have a profound effect on the health of children in Senegal and all over Africa.
Yet another stop showed how the technology of today can help farmers as businessmen and women. A young woman president of a 3,000-strong maize farmers’ union explained how they use the internet and mobile devices to control product quality and organize the marketing of their crops, which allows them to collectively compete with large industrial farms across the globe.
What makes these innovations yet more exciting is the potential for scaling them up and sharing them with other nations. New technology is only as good as our ability to get it into the hands of the millions of smallholder farmers who are the foundation for agriculture-led economic growth. Through Feed the Future, we are working to make successful technologies more and more accessible to the farmers who need them the most.
Looking back on the visit and on our tremendous successes in agriculture thus far, I can’t think of a more exciting, rewarding way to end a career with USAID.
- Feed the Future 2013 Progress Report
- White House Fact Sheet on global food security and nutrition
- Impact Blog: Food Security Takes Center Stage during President’s Last Day in Senegal
- Impact Blog: Video of the Week: President Obama Speaks on Food Security
Traditional gender roles in South Sudan have hindered women from improving their professional skills and limited their contributions as teachers and leaders of parent-teacher associations, school management committees and boards of governors. As a result, children lack female role models and South Sudan has a shortage of teachers.
Most of South Sudan’s teachers lack professional training, a legacy of decades of conflict. Women constitute only 12.3 percent of the teaching force in South Sudan’s primary schools and 10.5 percent of teachers in secondary schools.
USAID is helping to improve female teachers’ professional skills and retain female teachers in South Sudan’s workforce through training and providing working mothers with childcare so that they are able to focus on their professional development.
Samna Basha, a third grade teacher enrolled in USAID-funded training, said that childcare helped her to concentrate and avoid inconveniencing colleagues in the classroom. “I did not expect to complete the training because I am a nursing mother and therefore unable to focus my undivided attention on the training material,” said Basha, who teaches at the Lokoloko Primary School in Wau, Western Bahr el Ghazal state. “I was pleased when a … staff member [told] us that child care services would be provided by a caretaker of our choice at a venue provided by the school and that the service would be paid for by the project. It was a great relief for all the mothers … this is the first time in my experience that working mothers have been supported to fulfill their professional duties while caring for their children.”
Pasqulina Jackino is a mother of six and has been a teacher of mathematics, science, and religion in Primary 1, 2, and 3 at Ezo Community Girls School in Western Equatoria State for nearly seven years. She had received no formal teacher training until she was offered the opportunity to participate in a USAID-funded in-service training course. “I quickly packed a bag for me and my baby and set out to attend the training because I knew this was an opportunity to make me a better teacher,” she said. ”I am now able to plan my lessons and make them more lively and interesting. Through interactions with fellow teachers and tutors from other counties, my English has improved. I am now able to explain the subject matter of the lesson to my pupils in English.”
Pasqulina can now effectively manage her classroom and encourage pupils to learn. As she explains, “to be a mother and teacher at the same time is a challenge but I am ready to take it up. This is the only way I can come out as a better person and contribute to the growth and development of my community and the entire nation.”
As President Obama embarks on his trip to Africa, USAID is proud to take this opportunity to highlight the important work we are doing to partner with Africans in new and innovative ways to build a peaceful and prosperous future. For the first time in over a generation, sub-Saharan Africa is seeing steady progress toward ending extreme poverty, fueled by robust economic growth and better governance and service delivery in many countries. These gains have been supported by USAID’s investments in improved agriculture, health care, and democratic institutions, and our increased focus on women and a new generation of African thinkers, entrepreneurs, and innovators, each of which are delivering transformational results. In concert with partners throughout Africa, we are working toward ending poverty and providing millions a foothold in the global economy—and helping to realize the promise of the world’s most youthful region.
The President will visit Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania–some of USAID’s most important development partners–but his messages are relevant for the entire continent. USAID with thousands of grassroots organizations, communities and local businesses in 42 African countries to achieve these shared goals. Some examples of these partnerships are featured in this collection of stories about our work in Africa.
Throughout the President’s trip, our teams on the ground will provide regular social media updates. Be sure to follow Administrator Shah on Twitter (@rajshah) as he accompanies the President and join the conversation using #USAIDAfrica! Follow us also on Facebook and our Impact Blog for real-time stories from our missions in Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania. We look forward to continuing the conversation with you throughout this trip and beyond.
Nowhere is development such an important part of U.S. engagement as it is in Africa. In anticipation of the President’s trip next week, we thought we’d share some of our favorite FrontLines stories about our work in Africa. President Obama’s strategies on global development and Africa have laid the foundation for a new approach that focus on sustainable development and a new operational model for assistance. We look forward to the opportunities that this visit will bring.
Our Favorites include:
Senegal: The Mile Between the Market and the Farm. Community-based service providers link Senegal’s rural populations to the private sector for better food security.
Zambia: Guns, Honey and Rice: USAID support is helping scale up efforts to turn former poachers into conservation farmers.
Ethiopia: Ethiopia’s Army of Female Health Workers: 35,000 USAID-supported female extension workers are helping bring health care to Ethiopia’s historically underserved.
The Idea Incubator: The Bright Young Minds Leading USAID’s Innovation Quest. Several USAID innovation-seeking programs are giving young visionaries with big plans for development a major boost.
Tanzania: Bringing Tanzania on the Grid. Young Innovator Alla Jazmir’s Egg-Energy is delivering electricity to low-income African households with rechargeable batteries for families without access to the grid.
Kenya: The Business of Waste. In a model that “starts with sanitation and ends with energy,” young entrepreneurs’ start-up Sanergy brings sustainable, entrepreneurial toilets—and some useful byproducts—to urban areas in Kenya and beyond.
Malawi: A Healthy First Breath For Malawi’s Newborns. Rice University students’ newborn breathing device aims to prevent millions of infant deaths in Malawi’s hospitals at a fraction of the cost of its high-tech cousin.
Women and Development
Kenya: The Value Girls from Lake Victoria’s Shores: A USAID/Nike program is helping vulnerable women in Kenya’s Lake Victoria region find success in alternative industries.
Conflict Mitigation and Prevention
Ethiopia: Peace Brokers: USAID-sponsored reconciliation efforts usher in historic truce accord in Ethiopia’s pastoral south.
Democracy, Human Rights, and Government
Kenya: In Community ‘Parliaments’ Kenyan Youth Find a Voice. The country’s ‘bunges,’ or democratic youth groups, are serving as a powerful counterweight to widespread apathy, unemployment and election violence, all the while fomenting tomorrow’s leaders.
Ethiopia: Catching Ethiopians Before They Fall: Highlights Famine-Preventing Productive Safety Net Program
- Niger: Niger’s Tree of Life: In the face of recurring food insecurity and acute malnutrition, USAID is promoting the cultivation of hardy, vitamin-packed moringa as one way to build resilience in communities in the drought-prone Sahel.
In the early 20th century, distribution of and education about contraceptives were illegal in the United States, leading to the widespread use of ineffective contraceptive methods. This continued until Margaret Sanger visited a Dutch birth control clinic where she learned about diaphragms and thus began a revolution in the United States. The diaphragm was the first safe and effective woman-initiated contraception in much of the world and was widely used in the United States and other countries until the introduction of the birth control pill. While use of the device has decreased over the past 50 years, a comeback may be in the wings.
The SILCS Diaphragm, set to officially launch in Europe this June, is the first new cervical barrier method that will enter the market in more than a decade.
PATH, in collaboration with CONRAD and funded by USAID, designed the one-size-fits-most SILCS Diaphragm to increase access to nonhormonal barrier contraception for women in low-resource settings, as well as developed countries. PATH led a user-centered design process involving input from women, their partners, and providers. The design was then verified in clinical studies by couples in the Dominican Republic, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States. The single size should remove the need for a pelvic exam and fit assessment which are obstacles to both providers and women in many settings. PATH licensed the SILCS design to Kessel Marketing & Vertriebs GmbH of Frankfurt, Germany, who will introduce the device as the Caya™ contoured diaphragm.
While SILCS was developed to expand women’s options for nonhormonal barrier contraception, SILCS has added value due to its potential to be used as a multipurpose prevention technology when paired with tenofovir gel—a product currently in Phase III clinical testing—which is designed to protect women from acquiring HIV.
CONRAD, which owns a license for tenofovir gel, is working on a protocol for a study that will assess the safety, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of the SILCS plus tenofovir gel. Another study will evaluate the potential of a modified tenofovir gel as a contraceptive by pairing it with the SILCS to assess their ability to prevent sperm from penetrating cervical mucus.
PATH is working with research partners in India, South Africa, and Uganda to identify opportunities and challenges for future introduction of the single-size diaphragm in developing countries. There are 222 million women worldwide who would like to avoid pregnancy but aren’t using a modern method of contraception. Some women are either unable or unwilling to use hormonal contraceptives, and many also have infrequent sex and prefer to use a product that is on demand and woman initiated.
Imagine a world where every child born is planned and their mothers are free of HIV infection. As Louis Armstrong sang, what a wonderful world this could be.
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