As many of you may know, March 8th was International Women’s Day. It is a day meant to recognize the elimination of women being discriminated against around the world. This day is especially important here at WellShare International because we love to honor the women of our community that go out and empower others on a regular basis. Our multifaceted approaches include evaluating health care options, providing tools and/or technology, and establishing relationships all while engaging with communities along the pathways to health. This is all while also observing the influence of women’s health on families.
Women’s health is an important topic to recognize because of the unique health challenges that are common to only women. According to the World Health Organization there are socio-cultural factors that come into women’s health like the standard in some cultures being women not receiving as much education and emphasis on women’s reproductive health. For example, in Tanzania, social norms and economic disparities disadvantage some women in accessing reproductive health care, such as prenatal care, cervical cancer testing, and child spacing. We found that younger women were not necessarily incorporated in community structures in getting information and assistance. Younger women would leave their communities and go into town and get pregnant and when they would come back to their neighborhood, they would be ostracized. In response to this complex challenge, WellShare promotes the importance of women’s health through our Survive and Thrive Group project for young single mothers in the Bariadi District of Tanzania. Community health workers are able to educate groups of women on health, peer support, and some essential small business skills. Some examples of small business groups include weaving hair, selling vegetables and fruits, and keeping chickens. In 2019, we trained 327 members in 11 groups. Women who participate in the groups have funds to pay for healthcare, send their children to school, and promote their ongoing livelihoods.
As we look to each other in these unprecedented times, please join us in celebrating women, not only on International Women’s Day, but everyday. Around the world and in our own communities, mothers and families may or may not be facing certain struggles for the first time.
In the time of COVID-19, our organization is doing our part by continuing to support families in need. Our CHWs are working diligently to connect with clients, understand the needs of their families, and help connect them to resources. We are speaking with parents about providing virtual preschool to their children, accessing unemployment insurance benefits, connecting virtually with their providers for routine/complex care needs, and continuing to provide high quality health education to the communities we serve. In direct response to the virus we are working closely with all clients to share tailored information in multiple languages about the virus in real time to empower them to live healthy lives.
Always remember, we are all so much more than what we are going through.