Photo: USAID ASSIST Project
March 8th marks International Women’s Day, and offers an excellent opportunity to reflect on contributions and progress made to improve the lives of women and girls in the past year, identify where inequalities still prevent women and girls from realizing their full potential, and advocate for further changes to increase equal opportunities. As a physician, I know that newborn survival is closely aligned with women’s empowerment and gender equality, and that improving nutrition, family planning and education opportunities for girls and women are the most effective interventions to prevent high-risk pregnancies and to save mothers’ and babies’ lives. When couples have the ability to decide how many children they have and space their pregnancies adequately, they tend to have fewer children, and their newborns are more likely to be healthy.
I have spent my entire career working to help women, men, boys, girls and newborns have opportunities to live healthy lives and to achieve what they aspire for; I studied medicine, worked as a physician and a clinician in refugee camps, led global health projects, and now, as the founder and President of Women WI-HER LLC (Influencing Health, Education, and Rule of Law) and senior gender technical advisor on the USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project. I look back on the past year and a half of the USAID ASSIST project, and how we have worked to improve the lives of women and girls, with pride and excitement. In close partnership with our field offices, we have begun to spark change and improve health outcomes in many countries and communities.
I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish in the past year and a half to improve the health outcomes and lives of women, girls and their families. I look forward with even greater excitement to this coming year, knowing that, with the strong commitment of our field offices, senior leadership and all staff to integrate gender across the USAID ASSIST Project, we will capture lessons learned and best practices to integrate gender into improvement, and we will continue our deep commitment to improve health outcomes for women, men, boys, girls and newborns.