The World Health Organization has reaffirmed his commitment to gender equality and women empowerment.
While also seeking for an improvement in health outcomes for women and girls, so they can
realise their potential and contribute to transformative socioeconomic and political development in the Africa region.
The WHO Regional Director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, made the disclosure on the occasion of International Women’s Day celebration.
The WHO Officer in charge of Nigeria, Dr Fiona Braka who read the address on behalf of the regional director said there is need to resolve gender-based differences relating to health need.
“We need to address risk behaviours, power and control over resources and information, and access to health services.”
According to Moeti, the World Health Organization has prioritized and promoted leadership in gender, equity and rights across all its health policies and programmes.
“This is with a view to achieving universal health coverage and attaining the triple billion goals set out in our new Programme of Work”
She stated that countries in the African region have made great strides towards gender parity in education, health, economic and political systems.
” They have incorporated multisectoral actions for advancing women’s health through the life course in their national health development strategies”
” The advances are reflected in the 2018 Global Gender Gap Report which shows that, over the past decade, our region has improved more than any other in closing the health and survival gender gap.” She also emphasized that two countries in the region, Botswana and Lesotho, have fully closed both its educational attainment and health and survival gender gaps.
“African women are increasingly occupying positions of power and influencing bolder legislation and policy-making and demonstrating to other women that they too have a voice and can make decisions on issues impacting their lives.”
Moeti noted that Rwanda has the largest proportion of female parliamentarians in the world (61%), and together with Ethiopia, has near-parity in ministerial position.
“In Namibia, the proportion of women in parliament stands at about 46%. These positive developments, however, mask the fact that the region’s gender gap has started to widen again due to significant inter-country variations in educational attainment, political empowerment, wage equality and the numbers of women engaged in professional and technical work.”
Similarly, she urged the international community, Member States and all other stakeholders to Think equal, build smart, and innovate for change”.
” Deep-seated gender, equity and rights issues are responsible for the persistently high number of HIV-related deaths, especially among young women, as well as unacceptably high rates of maternal mortality and other harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation”
” We must also confront lifestyle issues and risk factors contributing to the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases among women in Africa”
“We must ensure that girls remain in school until the completion of their secondary education; and end all forms of violence against women and girls.”