IWD 2024: Decreasing Funding, Crises Stall Women’s Rights Campaigns - WHO
Dr Matshidiso Moeti WHO Regional Director, Africa

IWD 2024: Decreasing Funding, Crises Stall Women’s Rights Campaigns – WHO

3 months ago
3 mins read

Drop in priority funding and crises in different parts of the world have been identified as some of the factors posing threats to campaigns  promoting the rights of women by various women’s organisations and civil society partners.

World Health Organisation’s regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, made this known in her message on the occasion of this year’s International Women’s Day.

She said that in the journey to ensure adequate protection of women’s rights across the world, there still challenges which she believes are  not insurmountable.

She lamented that many women organisations and civil society partners are facing a daunting challenge of increasing decline in funding for programmes aimed at protecting women’s rights and improving their welfare.

She called on stakeholders to join hands in championing the rights of women and  girl child by making significant investments to accelerate progress in that regard.

“Priority funding is waning for many women’s organisations and civil society partners,” Moeti said.


”We are seeing a global rise of anti-rights and anti-gender movements coupled with multiple and protracted crises.

“It is more important than ever that we stand firm to champion the rights of every woman and girl child by investing more to accelerate progress.”

Reflecting on the theme of 2024 International Women’s Day tagged “Invest in women: Accelerate progress and Inspire Inclusion,” the WHO Africa regional director said it “highlights the importance of gender equality, women’s and girls’ empowerment, and their rights to healthier lives.”

She stressed that advancing the welfare and empowerment of women is “a powerful development tool.”

Moeti said they have  been working together with regional partners and civil society stakeholders to understand the socioeconomic, systemic, and political barriers that negatively impact gender equality in access to healthcare in the region.

She highlighted various programmes and initiatives undertaken by WHO geared towards improving the status and welfare of women in  African region, some of which include:

“The Women’s Leadership Program, as part of the WHO African Region’s Transformation Agenda;
”The WHO African Region Women in Leadership Masterclass: Power Up Your Executive Presence;

“And the Africa Women Health Champions initiative, implemented in collaboration with the United Nations Volunteers programme.”

She thanked the United Nations Volunteers program, country partners, and all those who have contributed to the success of the initiative, adding that today marks its fourth anniversary.


Benefits of the Women Leadership Initiative

Highlighting the benefits of the WHO’s women leadership programmes in Africa, Moeti stated: “It has helped attract young African women aged 22 to 35 who are groomed, mentored, coached, and supported to grow to full potential for the future of our Organisation.

“It has given the young ‘Champions’ the opportunity to contribute to our work of improving people’s health and well-being while promoting gender equality and diversity.

“Besides, the Women’s Leadership Program, part of the WHO African Region Transformation Agenda, tailored to the needs of female staff in the workplace, has empowered and equipped women; it has given them the necessary tools for leadership positions in the Organization.

“Since 2020, 79 female senior staff from our Country Offices and the Regional Office have benefited from the programme.”

“Female leaders are supported in their goals to enhance their professional influence and impact as leaders in the health sector.

In the last few years, we have strengthened country teams’ capacity to effectively integrate gender, equity, and human rights into health programmes,” she added.


Improving Gender equality

The WHO Africa regional director disclosed that Over 80 per cent of member states in the African Region are integrating gender, equity, and human rights considerations at varying gender-responsive scales.


Life expectancy of African Women

She noted that between 2000 and 2020, there has been an improvement in life expectancy of African women, increasing from 54 to 67 years, while maternal mortality ratio decreased by 33 per cent (from 788 to 531 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births).

“The proportion of women at reproductive age who are satisfied with modern family planning methods increased from 47 per cent to 56.5 per cent in 2020.

”Despite these improvements, we still have disparities at the national and sub-national levels,” she observed.

“It is more important than ever that we stand firm to champion the rights of every woman and girl child by investing more to accelerate progress.

We will continue pushing – and working for – the gender agenda in health care, stand firm on our achievements, and create a world where:

“- Women are equal partners with men in all aspects of healthcare
”-Women are entrusted with leadership positions based on their performance
”-Women live without discrimination, harassment, and violence.”



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