The global spotlight on the importance of healthy, educated and empowered women and girls in building a robust future has never shone brighter. We are pleased to bring you views from experts on enduring challenges – such as maternal deaths and unmet contraception needs – as well as burgeoning opportunities, from technological innovations to male engagement. We are privileged to feature insights from Gary Darmstadt of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on the corporate sector’s pivotal role in expanding family planning access. And read on for updates on GBCHealth’s Healthy Women, Healthy Economies platform and on companies at the forefront of improving the health, well-being and opportunity of women and girls.
Q&A with Gary Darmstadt of the Gates Foundation
How Business Can Change Lives Through Family Planning
GBCHealth is honored to gain the insights of Dr. Gary Darmstadt, Director of Family Health, Global Development Program for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In the context of the Foundation’s pioneering commitment announced at the London Family Planning Summit in July 2012, he shares with Insights his perspective on critical family planning needs – and what the business community can do about it.
Q. Why has the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation championed the issue of family planning (FP)?
A. Whenever and wherever we travel to the field and talk with women about their lives and what they want and need, they consistently relate that what is most important to them is that they are able to feed their children, take them to the doctor when they are sick, and send them to school. All these aspirations can best be met when women are able to plan their families.
The evidence for impact of FP is indisputable. Access to voluntary FP greatly reduces maternal and newborn deaths, unplanned pregnancies and abortions, and improves the health of women and their children. Families that space and delay births are economically more stable and can invest more money and time per child in health, nutrition and education. This stronger early start in life leads to higher educational attainment, productivity and income as an adult. The individual-level economic benefits also extend to national levels, creating countries that have stronger GDP growth, more women in the paid labor force, and less youth dependency.
Current FP programming leaves about 220 million women and girls worldwide, the majority in low-income countries, without the opportunity to freely decide when and how many children to have because they do not have access to a preferred method of contraception. It is a failure of policies, financial investments, and political commitment that the unmet need for contraceptives is so high.
We feel it is a matter of social justice that we champion this issue on behalf of women throughout the developing world given the current neglect of FP on the global health agenda despite the clear potential for impact.
Read full Q&A here »
GBCHealth’s Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Accelerates Corporate Impact
By Laura Rosen, Lead, GBCHealth's Healthy Women, Healthy Economies initiative
There can remain little doubt among corporations that improving the health, well-being and opportunity for women and girls makes good business sense. A number of companies have demonstrated tremendous commitment and leadership in their efforts to mitigate the challenges women and girls face. Healthy Women, Healthy Economies (HWHE), GBCHealth’s platform for accelerating corporate action to address gender inequalities, commends and supports members in these efforts.
Read more about the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies platform »
Bayer HealthCare: Reproductive Health Education for Youth in Uganda
For over 50 years, GBCHealth member Bayer HealthCare has championed family-planning programs through a network of public and private partners in over 130 countries. As a leading company in the field of hormonal contraception, Bayer has formed healthcare alliances with NGOs and government agencies to promote sustainable strategies for sexual and reproductive health. According to Bayer, self-determined family planning requires not just access to modern contraceptives, but also knowledge. Sex education is therefore an essential cornerstone for improving the future potential of women and girls.
To bring sexual and reproductive health knowledge to where it is needed most, Bayer HealthCare partnered with DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung) to launch an innovative education program in Uganda in 2009. Launched in 10 schools, the Young Adolescents Project (YAP) has reached 7,100 students through the year 2011, increasing their knowledge of HIV & AIDS, pregnancy prevention and sexually transmitted diseases. YAP approaches its educational outreach holistically, involving pupils, teachers, parents and the surrounding community. The YAP program also provides sanitary supplies so girls don’t miss school each month and has helped reduce female drop-out rates.
Read about Bayer HealthCare’s sexual and reproductive health education program for youth in Uganda »
Increasing Access to Medicines to Prevent Maternal Deaths
"Agenda for global action" released by PATH stresses innovation, public-private partnerships and market-based approaches
Every two minutes, a woman in a developing country dies from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Basic medicines costing less than $1 per dose can prevent the leading causes of maternal deaths but often don’t reach women in developing countries. Last week, PATH released a report on how to increase access to these medicines. The report included an agenda for action that emphasizes public-private partnerships, market-based approaches and expanded opportunities for the private sector to reach more women in this effort. The report came out shortly after the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children issued its recommendations on reducing maternal, newborn and child deaths in developing countries. PATH played a pivotal role in informing the Commission’s recommendations.
PATH, a GBCHealth member, is a non-profit organization with 35 years of experience in developing, introducing and scaling-up health technologies for low-resource settings. In this article exclusive to Insights, PATH outlines its new agenda for action and some of its own work to improve access to medicines and technologies in maternal health. This includes work to advance the use of oxytocin in an easy-to-use injection system, which may enable more women to receive lifesaving treatment for postpartum hemorrhage. Additionally, PATH charts some of its partnerships with private sector companies, such as BD, and suggests market-driven opportunities for how the private sector can help save the lives of women in developing countries.
Read PATH’s article about opportunities for the private sector in reducing maternal deaths »
Thomson Reuters Foundation Holds Trust Women Conference
The International Herald Tribune and the Thomson Reuters Foundation invite GBCHealth members to attend the inaugural Trust Women Conference in London on December 4-5, 2012.
The Trust Women Conference will bring together companies, policy makers and NGOs working on the front lines of women’s rights. Speakers include Queen Noor of Jordan, author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, maternal health activist Christy Turlington Burns and Melanne Verveer, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues.
GBCHealth members and friends who register by October 19 will receive a 10 percent discount. Read more to obtain discount code and to register.
Thomson Reuters-trained journalist wins award for women's health reporting
The Thomson Reuters Foundation, in partnership with GBCHealth, in 2011 held a five-day, intensive training course called Women’s Health and Opportunity Reporting for 14 journalists in Africa to produce quality coverage of women’s issues. The Ghana Journalists Association recently honored participant Richard Bright Addo (Net2 TV Ghana) for his story on female condoms. Bright credited the training program for his success. “I just want to encourage everyone to make good use of the training and persevere, for the sky can only be the limit,” he said.
Read more about the Pan-African Journalist Training »
Read about Thomson Reuters' Commendation from the GBCHealth Business Action on Health Awards »
Driving Technological Innovations for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
October 22, 2012 | New York, NY
GBCHealth, in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Global Health, will host an event on October 22 in New York City on using technology to improve maternal, newborn and child health. Speakers from Laerdal Global Health, Johnson & Johnson, BD and the Mbarara University of Science and Technology will join keynote speaker Lois Quam, Executive Director of the Global Health Initiative, in discussions of how technological innovations have the potential to greatly reduce deaths and improve health outcomes.
Learn more about this invitation-only event »
Meridian: Changing Men’s Behavior in the Workplace
Companies invest significant resources in workplace programs to combat HIV, TB, malaria and other health burdens. However, too often social norms and gender beliefs go unaddressed in the workplace, particularly in male-dominated industries. Yet male employee behavior can substantially affect the ROI of corporate health investment.
GBCHealth partner Meridian Group International, Inc. developed a male engagement approach called Healthy Images of Manhood (HIM) that helps companies integrate gender into employee health programs. GBCHealth member Unilever Tea Tanzania piloted the program and saw transformations in gender sensitivity in a number of ways. Read more from Meridian about “Changing Men’s Behavior in the Workplace.”
Read Meridian’s “Changing Men’s Behavior in the Workplace” »
Maternal Health Featured at 2012 GBCHealth Conference
Maternal health took center stage at the GBCHealth Conference in May in New York City. The panel, Maternal Health: Milestone Moments on the Path to Healthier Motherhood, featured Sarah Brown, Global Patron of White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood; Dr. Naveen Rao, Lead, Merck for Mothers; and leaders from the companies BD and Chevron and from the international non-profit CARE USA. Christy Turlington Burns, a model who became an activist after a difficult childbirth that could have been deadly for a woman in the developing world, delivered moving remarks. Also at the conference, Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, stressed the importance of investing in women and girls and the U.S. launch of the MGD Health Alliance announced its goals for improving maternal and child health.
Maternal Health will also play a major role at GBCHealth’s 2013 conference on May 15-17 in New York City. Learn more
Read recap of 2012 maternal health session »
Watch Michelle Bachelet's remarks from GBCHealth 2012 Conference »
Read recap of Michelle Bachelet’s remarks »
Read recap of MDG Health Alliance launch »
Read Christy Turlington Burns’ op-ed on saving girls and her Huffington post interview with Merck for Mothers lead Naveen Rao »
Merck and Uganda Launch Cervical Cancer Vaccination Program
Merck and the Uganda Ministry of Health recently announced the launch of a national vaccination program with GARDASIL for girls 9 to 13 years old to prevent cervical cancer. Merck will donate 460,000 doses of GARDASIL to 12 districts in Uganda over a two year period, enough to vaccinate approximately 140,000 girls. The program represents the first phase of Uganda’s national roll out plan for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. Cervical cancer is the most frequent cancer diagnosed among women in Uganda.
Read more »
FSG Report Highlights Opportunities for Companies to Improve Health of Women & Children
FSG has published a guide, Private Enterprise for Public Health, that highlights opportunities for companies to improve the health of women and children while also generating value for private enterprise, a concept called shared value.
Read more »
Access Bank Helping Women Grow their Businesses
Access Bank’s Gender Empowerment (GEM) Programme, the first of its kind in Africa, provides women entrepreneurs with resources and training that they need to grow their businesses. Officials from Access Bank, one of the founding partners of GBCHealth's Healthy Women, Healthy Economies, spoke at the 2nd African Women's Economic Summit held in Lagos, Nigeria in July 2012.
Learn more about the GEM Programme »
Read the Business Day article on GEM »
Standard Chartered Bank Reaches Girls through Sports
Standard Chartered Bank's adolescent girls’ empowerment program called GOAL has reached nearly 19,000 young women in five countries. GOAL uses sports to deliver health information, build life skills, and provide a safe place for girls to play, learn, and grow in India, Nigeria, China, Jordan and Zambia. A survey conducted in partnership with the Population Council found that the program is delivering tangible outcomes related to health, financial literacy and empowerment, such as decision-making autonomy.
Read about the GOAL program »
Johnson & Johnson’s Mobile Message Program for New and Expectant Mothers Selected as Award Finalist
The Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) was selected out of 1700+ entries as a finalist for Fast Company’s 2012 Innovation By Design Award for its mobile phone service that transmits vital and culturally sensitive health information to new and expectant mothers in 35 developing countries. MAMA, a public-private partnership that includes Johnson & Johnson, projects to reach more than 20 million women with mobile messages on nutrition, newborn care, breastfeeding, immunizations and connections to local health resources.
Read more about the MAMA program »
Read about J&J’s work in work in women and children »
Chevron: Aggressively Combating Mother-To-Child Transmission Of HIV
Read about Chevron’s partnership with four NGOs to aggressively combat crisis-level mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Nigeria, Angola and South Africa. Chevron’s prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programs have already achieved remarkable impact: for eight years in Angola and 12 years in Nigeria, Chevron has had no reports of mother-to-child transmission of HIV among its employees or qualified dependents.
Chevron was one of the founding partners and Front-Runner Investors of HWHE
Read more »
Rio Tinto Addresses Gender in Mines and Communities
Rio Tinto is advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality by addressing the unique needs within its own industry. In recognition of the scant involvement of women in the mining sector, the company developed the report entitled Why Gender Matters, a “how to” guide on integrating gender sensitivity and considerations into the company’s workplace operations and its community programs.
Read Rio Tinto’s gender case studies »
Visit the new Healthy Women, Healthy Economies web page for additional tools and resources to learn more about the issues facing women and girls