International Women's Day 2014: Equality for Women Is Progress for All

March 8th marks International Women's Day, a day to celebrate women's achievements and advocate for equality in health, home and career, with dignity and respect. URC is committed to delivering services that address issues of gender equality as an integrated component of an overall strategy of health-systems strengthening, quality improvement and empowerment. URC is proud to highlight two of its key programs that ensure that women can access health services that are both cost-effective and patient centered.

Translating Research into Action (TRAction)

The Translating Research into Action (TRAction) Project, directed by URC in collaboration with partner Harvard School of Public Health, is supporting efforts to collect data in multiple contexts and regions to better characterize the problem of disrespect and abuse globally. The project focuses on maternal, newborn, and child health and other related services, supporting studies to develop, test and compare approaches that more effectively deliver, increase and scale-up evidence-based practices for priority health care challenges—such as disrespect and abuse in childbirth services. Through implementation research, the TRAction Project addresses "know-do" gaps, or delays between the discovery of effective ways to improve public health and their application on a wide scale.

A professional facility. Safe delivery. Supportive maternal and newborn care. Facility-based childbirth should provide a mother and her newborn with all of those things, but women experience disrespect, even abuse, during childbirth. A TRAction-funded research grant to Population Control supports (1) implementation research on disrespect and abuse during facility-based childbirth in Kenya and (2) the design, testing and evaluation of an approach for reducing the problem. The research aims to promote respectful maternal care (the converse of disrespectful and abusive care), so demand for skilled delivery care increases and the quality of services rendered improves.

An award was made in February 2011 to AMDD (Averting Maternal Death and Disability, Columbia University) to fund implementation research on disrespect and abuse during facility-based childbirth in Tanzania. TRAction will work with partners to test and validate best approaches for measuring disrespect and abuse, as well as determining prevalence estimates. The project will then develop key indicators for use in research and service delivery and standardize methods for collecting data on these indicators. This will enable measurement of prevalence on a broad scale, which can then be promoted by global normative bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO).

TRAction Guatemala seeks to understand deterrents to skilled maternal care within the country's indigenous population, which experiences, among other issues, disproportionately higher rates of maternal mortality and morbidity. Like the projects in Kenya and Tanzania, this project will explore how experiences with disrespect and abuse affect maternal health care decisions. Findings will inform future efforts to increase the demand for formal care and improve the quality of services rendered.

URC, WI-HER to attend UN Commission on the Status of Women
URC President Barbara N. Turner and Dr. Taroub Harb Faramand, President of URC's small business protégé WI-HER LLC, Women Influencing Health Education and Rule of Law, will travel to New York to attend the fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women which will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from March 10–21, 2014. They will participate in discussions on the challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls, among other topics.

USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project

The USAID ASSIST Project, which URC leads, targets women specifically in many interventions that aim to improve the health of women, girls and their families. The project's approach to integrating gender involves systematically identifying and analyzing gender-related gaps in outcomes and norms that influence risk factors, access to care, care-seeking behavior and equality of treatment among target beneficiaries. The project will then address those gaps and norms in concert to generate shifts in thinking at the individual, household, and community levels.

In Ukraine, ASSIST works to decrease alcohol and tobacco use among pregnant women to improve their health and that of their babies. In Uganda, the project aims to improve the quality, accessibility and use of HIV services by women in the antenatal and postnatal periods, their male partners, and affected children. ASSIST Tanzania works to improve the quality of antenatal care and integrates gender into prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV programs in order to improve maternal and newborn health.

In Botswana and India, the ASSIST project works specifically to improve maternal survival rates through quality improvement interventions throughout the countries. In Malawi and Zambia, one project focus aims to improve nutrition programs for HIV patients, especially women and children. In Mali and Niger, ASSIST seeks to empower women through family planning service delivery.

Empowering women, improving health services for women and children and encouraging changes in traditional gender roles serve to promote positive improvements in health and community welfare for women, men, girls and boys. Elevating the status of women to an equal platform can only result in progress for all: URC celebrates International Women's Day by working every day to strengthen systems and empower communities for the benefit of all.

Date 
March 07, 2014
Authors 
Christina Zola, communications specialist
Regions/ Countries