The West African Health Organization has always taken an active interest in the empowerment of the woman and girl-child, recognizing that promoting their collective rights is instrumental to not only their individual security, but also the benefit of the global community. That is why today, WAHO joins the world in celebrating the International Women’s Day.
As WAHO celebrates the uniqueness and diversity of the woman and girl-child, we highlight the several programs and projects at WAHO that focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment including but not limited to, the Regional Reproductive Health and HIV Prevention Program (PRSR), the Regional Sexual and Reproductive Health and Demography Program (DEMSAN), the Sahel Women's Empowerment and Demographic Dividend Project (SWEDD), the Investing in Youth Engagement and Family Planning for Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Project in the ECOWAS Region (IYAFP) and the Sexual and Reproductive Health of Adolescents and Youth in the ECOWAS Region (SHRAY). In addition, WAHO collaborates with partners to work with men and boys, understanding the roles of this sub-group as allies in maintaining sustainability when effectuating these changes.
In celebrating international women’s day, it is important to highlight the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the women and the girl-child in our region. For instance, although the impact of COVID-19 on the women and girl child has been significant in various aspects, WAHO has remained focused on mitigating the impact of COVID-19 while maintaining the positive gains in areas such as maternal and child deaths, childhood vaccination initiatives and programs that accelerate sexual and reproductive health for women and adolescents in the region.
Nonetheless, with these gains, addressing identified challenges and improving the goal of women’s empowerment in Africa will require bolder commitments that are necessary to prevent the complacency of using conventional methods previously believed as paramount to empowering women. This means that the initiatives to be adopted should ideally focus on multidimensional and holistic approaches that take a myriad of factors into account.
Finally, WAHO reiterates its commitment to the empowerment of the woman and girl-child while celebrating the international women’s day. We must remember that the day transcends beyond the individual woman and a particular community or country. Rather, the day is seen as a celebration of the collective rights of women and the girl-child across the global community. As we move forward, WAHO envisions a global commitment that empowers the woman and girl-child, standing behind all of them as they seek to fully exercise their rights, speak freely, gain greater control of the outcomes of their lives, and live free from intimidation, harassment, and violence.
Bobo-Dioulasso, 8 March 2022
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