What Does Health Equality Look Like for Women Around the World?

Each year, the world celebrates International Women’s Day on March 8th. It’s a chance to honor women’s achievements worldwide and to renew the international effort to improve women’s status, opportunities, and rights. This year, International Women’s Day is focused on gender parity, challenging individuals, organizations, and governments to “Pledge for Parity” and continue progress for women.

The foundation of parity is equality in all aspects of life—including health. Yet around the globe many women lack access to adequate health care.

What does health parity mean around the world?

The Ability to Plan a Family

For many women, family planning is an essential tool. It can help them space their children and allow them to complete their education and reach their goals. Since our very first project in 1978, zJSI has worked to promote an individual’s choice in planning her or his family.

As part of the Advancing Partners and Communities project, JSI helps community-based family planning (CBFP) programs bring vital family planning information and methods to women wherever they live.

As part of the Madagascar Community-Based Integrated Health Project (MAHEFA), JSI trains community health workers to provide services to reduce neonatal and child health morbidity and mortality. So far, JSI has trained more than 5,000 community health workers.

Photo Credit: Robin Hammond

Through the Last Ten Kilometers 2020 (L10K 2020) Project in Ethiopia, JSI links people to the primary health care system and improves understanding of and demand for community-based, long-acting family planning options.

Photo Credit: Antonio Fiorente

The Right to Choose Family Planning

When women decide to plan their families with contraceptives, they need consistent, affordable options so they can select the method that’s best for them.

JSI was integral in launching the concept of commodity security, emphasizing the importance of not only strong health supply chains, but also the need for leadership, financing, policies, and partnerships to ensure that people around the world, especially women, have the supplies they need to be healthy.

As part of the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT, JSI provids logistical support to ship contraceptives to more than 176 million couples in 115 countries and has prevented an estimated 1.5 million infant and maternal deaths over nine years.

In Indonesia, JSI is reinvigorating family planning through the Right Method, Right Time, My Choice project to ensure that women can choose from a variety of contraceptive methods based on the option that is right for them.

The Chance to Deliver Safely

Having children is important to many women around the world. Yet, despite advances in medical technology, many women and their newborn children are in danger during birth.

JSI is at the forefront of improving maternal and neonatal care around the world.

Before JSI’s launched the Nigeria Targeted States High Impact Project (TSHIP), many women in Nigeria delivered their children completely alone, and often mother and baby died because of complications. Between 2010 and 2014, TSHIP recorded a 172% increase in the number of deliveries with a skilled birth attendant, and a decrease from 25% of women in Sokoto State who delivered alone in 2008 to less than 1% in 2013.

JSI’s Timor-Leste Health Improvement Project is helping to reduce Timor-Leste’s high maternal mortality rate—caused in part by delays in reaching care during obstetric emergencies—by introducing the non-pneumatic anti-shock garment (NASG), a low-tech first aid device that slows bleeding in women who have postpartum hemorrhage.

Through the Myanmar RMNCH Quality of Care Project, JSI and partner Dimagi are working with UNICEF to equip rural midwives with new mobile technology, called CommCare, to track and support clients with antenatal care, labor and delivery, essential newborn care, family planning, infant and child care, routine immunization, and nutrition.

Over the last decade, JSI has been integral in revolutionizing maternal and neonatal care in Georgia to fit modern birthing standards through the USAID-funded Georgia Sustaining Family Planning and Maternal and Child Health Services (SUSTAIN) project. Because of JSI’s work, 73% of all births in Georgia now take place in health facilities that provide effective perinatal care (EPC)—resulting in a 50% reduction in postpartum hemorrhage, which is a leading cause of maternal death.

The Ability to Access Adequate Food

Many women around the world are the head of their household—responsible for not only supporting their families financially, but also caring for their children. For poor women, having the means to buy adequate food is a continual struggle.

Through the Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project, JSI is helping to prevent stunting and maternal and child anemia in the first 1,000 days of life by linking agriculture and nutrition, and creating social and behavior change through communication.

As part of the Liberian Agricultural Upgrading, Nutrition and Child Health (LAUNCH) Project, JSI is working to improve food security for vulnerable people through supplemental food rations—distributing monthly food rations to about 10,000 pregnant and lactating women, and mothers of children under five years of age.

Support to Prevent Gender-Based Violence

All over the world, women and girls are vulnerable because of their gender.

JSI works to protect and improve the lives of women and girls through innovative programs and long-term partnerships to prevent gender-based violence (GBV).

As part of the Strengthening High Impact Interventions for an AIDS-free Generation (AIDSFree) project, JSI works to integrate GBV prevention within existing HIV, family planning, and reproductive health services and programs at health facility, community, and policy levels through a prison inmate peer-education program on GBV and a capacity assessment of the Tanzanian police gender and children desks.

Find out more about JSI’s work strengthening women’s health

Learn how you can be a part of the International Women’s Day Pledge for Parity campaign