Rural Women's Health a Major Focus for International Women's Day

Vidushi Sinha

As people around the world observe International Women’s Day on March 8th, public health officials are calling on policy makers and global donors to empower rural women by supporting health and wellness programs. Officials say prime targets for these investments should be the treatment of tropical infections and improving women's access to reproductive health services.

Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), appealing to philanthropists and country leaders at a recent pledging conference in London to commit more money to improving health services for rural women.

The WHO says the economic empowerment of rural women - the theme of this year's Women's Day observance - can only happen when those women are given better access to essential drugs and basic medical treatment.  In London, major donors rose to the challenge:

Microsoft chairman and philanthropist Bill Gates has helped lead a campaign to combat neglected tropical diseases, which affect more than a billion people worldwide.

Dr. Julie Jacobson of the Gates Foundation says the movement against tropical diseases is also a movement to help rural women.

“When we talk about trachoma, blindness and the way that the women have suffered from these diseases and the effects it has had on their families - [for example]  lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, which not only affects the urinary tract but also the genital tract and is a co factor - risk factor for HIV," said Jacobson. "And this is a thing that has never been appreciated.  And so by treating this with a tablet - which is donated - you can reduce the risk factor for HIV by three-to four-old in these women. I think it’s an incredible time.”

That's a sentiment shared by Maureen Greenwood-Basken, executive director for reproductive health at the United Nations Foundation.  

She says there is a growing recognition around the world that women and girls can be important catalysts of social change.  

And she believes that rural women can more readily fulfill their roles in building a better society if their reproductive health is improved.

“If they are given access to voluntary contraception and family sizes then we see much better maternal health outcomes, greater infant survival, those families are better able to clothe and feed the children that they do have - the children are more likely to go to school," she said. "Mothers are able to engage in economic livelihood activities - build healthier family and stronger communities.”

Experts say continued investments in the health and education of women and girls - and in programs that support their economic improvement - are investments that benefit everyone.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs