A Look Into Advocacy: January

While Women Deliver is based in New York, we often find ourselves all around the world advocating for improvement of the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women. The first month of 2016 has found us in places like Bali and Davos, and has assured us that the tide will continue turning for girls and women and we want to stay at the center of it. Below is a quick recap of what the Women Deliver team was up to in January. 

Women Deliver is partnering with the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) to raise awareness around Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) as well as elevate and integrate the issue within the maternal health continuum. There is a crucial need to push for universal screening of pregnant women, particularly in low and middle-income countries. By scaling up prevention, screening, and treatment around GDM, we could see a three-fold win regarding health outcomes:

  1. Reducing the chances of maternal morbidity and mortality
  2. Reducing the chances of infant morbidity and mortality
  3. Breaking of cycle of intergenerational transmission of NCD risks (referring to diabetes as well as other related NCDs, including obesity, hypertension and heart disease). 

Along with WDF’s Chairman of the Board, Anil Kapur, Women Deliver’s Susan Papp sat on a Management Health Sciences panel to address this very issue this January. In a room full of maternal health and non-communicable disease (NCD) professionals, Susan provided the advocacy perspective and case for a need to raise awareness around NCDs like GDM. She offered insights on the positive impact the Sustainable Development Goals, Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health, and more, will have on integrating NCD services into maternal health care and how the development community can support and capitalize on these plans. There is more to come - stay tuned for as our partnership with WDF evolves.

Advocacy at the International Conference on Family Planning

Young people were driving action to make their sexual and reproductive health and rights a priority at the Youth Pre-Conference and the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP), and Women Deliver Young Leaders – 19 in total! – were at the forefront. Fifteen current Young Leaders, and four Young Leaders Program alumni held a variety of roles throughout the conference – presenting their research, moderating panels, and sharing their expertise in youth-lead advocacy for family planning and reproductive health. Highlights included an all-youth panel roundtable entitled, “Youth Lead: Increasing Access to Family Planning,” where Young Leaders from each region of the world, including Hamza Moghari from Palestine, Ahmed Tata Aboushady from Egypt, and Prabesh Singh from Nepal, shared their personal stories and what drives their commitment to fighting for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Young Leaders were also recognized as experts in several panels: Francis Oko Armah shared his grassroots advocacy work with Curious Minds Ghana, Fiona Fandim presented a poster on vasectomies and family planning with Marie Stopes Papa New Guinea, and Dr. Tunde Ajidagba presented on his SMS messaging sexuality education campaign, which was funded with support from Women Deliver. 

  • On Wednesday during the conference, our Youth Program and Advocacy Manager, Tamara Windau-Melmer, moderated a panel during the Advocacy and Accountability track titled Young People: The Driving Force Behind Realizing SRHR. The panelists were all Women Deliver Young Leaders and included Ana Aguilera (Mexico), Mohamed Essam (Egypt), Patrick Segawa (Uganda), and S.M. Shaikat (Bangladesh). This interactive dialogue allowed the panelists to discuss their perspectives and experiences advocating for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and their engagement highlighted that young people are powerful spokespeople for their own needs and agents of change who can transform policy, programming, and communities for the better.
  • The World Contraception Day (WCD) Ambassadors Project was also on full display at ICFP! Within the “Youth and Technology” track, Mary Mwende, 2013 Young Leader and WCD Ambassador, and Sara Pellegrom, a Senior Associate at WD spoke on a panel about the Ambassadors Project. Sara presented on the background, goals, and the highlights of the project before turning it over to Mary to present on her seed grant project in Kenya and the United Arab Emirates. The focus of the presentation was to showcase the importance of involving and listening to young people’s experiences realizing their Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), particularly accessing contraception, in their communities. The WCD Ambassadors Project serves to spur on storytelling about contraception, family planning, and reproductive health for young people and adolescents and through innovative communication techniques, it works to bust myths and combat stigma about youth SRHR and contraceptives.
  • Women Deliver CEO, Katja Iversen moderated a panel alongside Monica Kerrigan, FP2020 and Mojisola Adeku, NURHI titled: Global Goals, National Commitments, Local Action: Realizing SRHR at the Envisioning the World We Want: Family Planning +Social Good event before the conference kicked off. In addition, she spoke on a lunch plenary session, chaired by Bayer, called “Pooling Strengths: Helping Effectively Together with Strong Partners.” Her remarks focused on the power of collaborating and partnering with the private sector to address health care issues, highlighting the WCD Ambassadors Project. Women Deliver also served on the ICFP Advocacy and Accountability Sub-Committee, hosting a salon session which served as an open forum for exchanging ideas on youth day at the International Conference on Family Planning.

The team was thrilled to receive enthusiastic feedback from participants who attended panels where Young Leaders spoke. The Women Deliver Young Leaders Program has engaged 400 youth advocates under the age of 30 to date, representing over 100 countries, supplementing and strengthening their work through online learning communities, high-level networking and speaking opportunities, seed grants, and more.

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