2020: Landmark Year for Women’s Health & Rights

Ian MatthewsArticle, News

This year marks a convergence of landmarks in the fight for gender equality. Twenty-five years ago, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was established. This landmark document outlined 12 key urgent actions on behalf of women and girls, towards reaching gender equity globally. Starting on March 9th, the 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place in New York, where UN Member States, NGOs and other parties will discuss the progress towards the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and how to actualize gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

In September 2019, the UN Secretary-General called on all sectors of society to mobilize for a Decade of Action, highlighting the fact that there are ten years left to reach the 2030 promise of the SDGs. He called for action on three levels: global action to secure greater leadership, more resources and smarter solutions for the SDGs; local action embedding the needed transitions in the policies, budgets, institutions and regulatory frameworks of governments, cities and local authorities; and people action, including by youth, civil society, the media, the private sector, unions, academia and other stakeholders, to generate an unstoppable movement pushing for the required transformations.

At the 33rd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, AU Member states declared the African Decade of Action as the Decade of African Women’s Financial and Economic Inclusion. Moussa Faki Mahamat, African Union Commission Chairperson, stated, “our member States have made great strides on women empowerment. This is through access by women entrepreneurs, to procurement contracts, the agricultural value chain and through laws promulgated, including solutions proposed to eradicate violence against women. To succeed in this struggle, I will support Member States to declare 2020-2030 the decade of the financial inclusion of African women. Women are rightfully demanding it and I fully support them.” Commenting during the Summit, Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway said, “there’s a strong correlation between gender equality and economic development. The economic value of including women in the workforce exceeds the value of oil and gas. We must support and encourage women entrepreneurship.”

I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights is the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, taking place on March 8th, and the theme of women’s empowerment couldn’t be more relevant. Aligned with UN Women’s new multigenerational campaign, Generation Equality, International Women’s Day will celebrate the next generations of female leaders and gender equality activists along with with the women’s rights advocates and visionaries on whose shoulders they stand.

These initiatives reinforce the need for all stakeholders to work together to quickly reach scale to achieve the SDGs This will require novel and innovative partnerships between the public and private sectors in order to improve health systems and ensure a sustainable, prosperous society through improving opportunities for women and children.

GBCHealth & SWEDD: Health, Education & Empowerment for Women & Girls  

GBCHealth, through its work with UNFPA on the Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend (SWEDD) project, is at the center of these converging agendas to implement the Platform for Action and achieve the SDGs.

GBCHealth, through its partnership-building for the SWEDD project, is ensuring that at least six of the 12 action points of the Platform of Action are addressed through cooperation with the private sector:

  • The girl child
  • Women and the economy
  • Women and education and training
  • Women and poverty
  • Women and health
  • Women and media

Read more about the 12 action points from UN Women here.

Since the Beijing meeting in 1995, the private sector has grown into a strong and reliable partner in health, in development and in science. Today, we celebrate those wins through the SWEDD project where we are working to align core business competencies and reproductive health, to capture the Sahel’s demographic dividend; equipping youth in the Sahel with the education to succeed, the health to thrive, and the entrepreneurship skills to prosper.

Since 2017, we have been working with UNFPA to engage the private sector in the SWEDD project. GBCHealth and UNFPA work to encourage smart health system strengthening, investments in reproductive health, women’s empowerment, behavior change, basic literacy and financial education as well as entrepreneurship. This has led to the development of a number of regional and international partnerships where GBCHealth plays a brokering role and has been instrumental in shaping concepts, negotiating deals, and implementing and managing the partnerships.

Through health system strengthening partnerships, we aim to address procurement delays, stock outs and other bottlenecks of the supply chain by offering tailored solutions to each SWEDD country, based on their specific needs and health system gaps. We also foster communication partnerships which are poised to amplify the SWEDD behavior change campaign by targeting adolescents. Finally, we partner with women’s education, entrepreneurship and empowerment groups who provide skill-building and education tools that enable the girl child to learn, and the adolescent girl to start a business.

We are greatly looking forward to continuing to build momentum around strategic partnerships to further support and catalyze SWEDD project outcomes, and most importantly the impact on individuals and communities, in line with global efforts to support the health of women & youth, realize the Platform of Action and achieve the SDGs by 2030. For more information about how you can support the SWEDD initiative, and partnerships for the health of women & girls in the Sahel region, contact Ghislaine Ouedraogo-Ametchie at goametchie@gbchealth.org.

Ian Matthews2020: Landmark Year for Women’s Health & Rights