h3. A note from Dr. Wafaa El Sadr on International Women’s Day
March 8th marked International Women’s Day—a day for celebration and acknowledgment of the extensive contributions and achievements of women worldwide. This year’s theme, “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women,” serves as a reminder that despite significant progress, there is still much work that needs to be done on behalf of women’s rights and women’s health. Acknowledging this compelling need, ICAP continues to work alongside its global partners to ensure that the health needs of women and young girls are met.
ICAP has focused on the health and wellbeing of women and children since 2003. It supports the implementation of comprehensive family-focused programs that meet the needs of the women with HIV and their children and partners. Through its efforts in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 3.4 million pregnant women attended antenatal care and received HIV testing at ICAP-supported sites. Women found to be HIV positive are referred to care, treatment, and peer counseling programs.
ICAP has also worked toward enhancing maternal and child health. In a region in Kenya where maternal mortality rates were especially high, ICAP expended its services to support 24-hour maternity care to ensure safer deliveries for both women and their children. In Ethiopia, it has developed state-of-art programs for infant resuscitation and supports Mother Groups that provide a safe space for women to discuss HIV among other issues that affect them while engaging the women in income-generating activities. Group meetings at ICAP-supported sites in Kenya have also provided psychosocial support and encouragement to grandmothers taking care of their grandchildren.
Consistent with the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, ICAP has also supported the provision of comprehensive health care services for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Rwanda since 2010. These services have become available at district hospitals, and lessons learned from Rwanda are being applied in other countries.
While much has been accomplished, much work lies ahead in expanding women’s health services and standing strongly behind efforts to end violence towards women.