‘We Need to Be All Hands on Board’: Leaders Discuss Women’s Empowerment With PIH Community

Virtual panel explores women’s rights, equity

Posted on Mar 15, 2022

Women’s health care has always been a focal point for Partners In Health (PIH). From gender-sensitive programs in Sierra Leone to several dozen maternal waiting homes around the globe, PIH has consistently prioritized women’s rights through accompaniment.

“When we look at someone as a number rather than a person, you are blaming the victim of terrible care...But when you actually talk to the women, and walk with them, and see what sort of care they need, you put the person at the center of care,“ said Dr. Joia Mukherjee, PIH’s chief medical officer.

On March 8, Mukherjee joined a PIH-organized livestream alongside Dr. Cindy Duke, founder and director of the Nevada Fertility Institute; and Edward Wageni, global head of the UN Women’s HeForShe initiative. The conversation was moderated by Winston Duke, an actor, producer, philanthropist, and advocate for women’s empowerment who helped shape the conversation with thoughtful questions and reflections. During the virtual event, which celebrated International Women’s Day, panelists discussed how gender bias impacts health care, ways to humanize conversations around women’s care, and strategies to advance gender equality for women.

Panelists agreed that women’s empowerment needs to happen beyond the medical setting and that all people—regardless of gender—must be involved. 

“We need to be all hands on board; ensuring that there are both men and women, boys and girls  to promote gender equality in partnership with women,” said Wageni. 

And the commitment to equity needs to begin early in life.

“When talking about a ‘women’s role’, we have to acknowledge that in order for women to function, we first have to make sure there is equity at the start. Part of that equity is access to care, access to skilled birth attendants, and access to accurate statistics,” said Cindy Duke. 

At PIH, one example of equitable access to care is Lesotho’s Maternal Mortality Reduction Program, which Mukherjee highlighted during the hour-long conversation. The program involves training village health workers to accompany women in remote regions of the country, ensuring they attend all prenatal visits and have a facility-based delivery. Those visits are among the 2.1 million women’s health visits PIH provided across countries in 2020. 

To watch the full discussion, visit PIH’s Youtube channel or view the recording above. To learn more about our panel partner, HeForShe, visit HeForShe.org

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