Recently, Kigali hosted Women Deliver 2023, attracting over 6,000 participants from across the globe. The event served as a platform for engaging in discussions concerning the dismantling of barriers and tackling the obstacles impeding women’s progress. Among the attendees were approximately 20 representatives from the PSI global network, who actively took part in a multitude of sessions. We reached out to some of our colleagues and requested them to share their most significant takeaways from the conference:
Strong health systems are vital for sexual and reproductive health
Odette Hekster, Managing Director, PSI Europe
“A theme from our conversations at Women Deliver 2023 was that strong health systems are vital for improved sexual and reproductive health and rights. This means taking a holistic approach to women’s health. Women don’t live single-issue lives. For example, you can save a woman’s life by providing her with anti-retroviral therapy (ART), but if you don’t provide her access to human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination, she may still die [of cervical cancer].
It also means empowering women and girls economically, which requires equal access to jobs and assets, along with essential services like healthcare. Protecting women’s businesses from decapitalization due to healthcare expenses and children’s education is also crucial and we must address the unpaid work of caretaking to accelerate women’s economic empowerment.
Lastly, we need to place the menstrual health agenda within other agendas that have more traction and funding attention. This will also help deliver on the intersectoral nature of menstrual health. The menstrual product market is also largely untapped and can create decent jobs for women.”
We need to better understand the impact of climate on health
Fifi Ogbondeminu, A360 Project Director, PSI
“One key learning was that since the pandemic, there has been an increase in the use of cell phones by young people, which creates a huge opportunity for investments and adaptations of our current health interventions. With the increase in phone use among adolescent and young people, internet safety is still considered a gendered issue, though evidence shows that girls are more likely to use the internet safely than boys, block or report unwanted behavior to admins, set accounts to private or fall victim to financial crimes etc. There is a generational divide and an opportunity to better engage parents to support girls.
We also need to better understand the impact of climate change on sexual and reproductive health and integrate climate resilience and mitigation measures in health initiatives to prevent ineffective investments and misuse of resources. YLabs and Organon has developed a strategic Climate & SRHR Framework to help stakeholders assess, anticipate, and respond to the gendered impact of climate change. This framework could help organizations highlight new evidence, identify priorities for action and inspire synergistic investment opportunities.”
Women’s health is still painfully underfunded
Andrea Novella, Digital Health Advisor, PSI
“My biggest takeaway is that women deserve holistic, integrated solutions designed for their specific needs. It’s time to break away from siloed, supply driven approaches that only provide partial solutions and embrace solutions built by, for, and with women and girls to ensure that consumers remain at the center of everything we do. I remain convinced of the power of data in ensuring that we, as change-makers and advocates, keep women at the heart of our efforts.
We also need to reconceptualize HOW we are measuring and defining health and impact in the first place. Part of ensuring that the solutions we are building are inclusive and recognize the diversity of needs of women and girls, is shifting how we measure success to be inclusive of some of the less tangible, but equally important, metrics for success, such as voice, choice, and agency.
My final takeaway is that women’s health is still painfully underfunded, and we’re called to explore new, sustainable models of financing, such as social business and blended financing models, that can support integrated care for women and girls throughout their lives, not just the duration of a project. We’re called collectively to build the body of evidence and demonstrate the value of investing in women health and innovation, so we can continue to work towards creating a brighter, more equitable, and healthier future for women and girls.”
Following Women Deliver 2023, we are eager to apply these learnings to our work moving forward. More importantly, we are strengthened by the opportunity to reconnect with partners and meet new individuals and organizations committed to building a better future for women and girls. With these partnerships, we can better facilitate person-powered care and work towards Universal Health Coverage.
Will you join us in committing to #StartWithHer following Women Deliver 2023? Contact Alison Malmqvist ([email protected]).