White Ribbon Alliance’s 2019 Year in Review
By Kristy Kade, White Ribbon Alliance Deputy Executive Director
2019 was a blockbuster year for White Ribbon Alliance and our movement to ensure that all women and girls realize their right to quality health and well-being. So much happened in 2019 across White Ribbon Alliance’s Global Alliance that it feels impossible to mention it all, but top highlights include:
- Building on the efforts of WRA India, together we mobilized 1.2 million women and girls to demand for their health and rights through the What Women Want Women and girls from 114 countries participated, with WRA Pakistan helping to mobilize nearly 245,000 responses from women and girls in Pakistan alone. When we first announced the campaign in 2018 and shared our intention of reaching our original goal of 1 million responses, people doubted whether we could pull it off. But we knew we could do it, we had to do it for women and girls. Those same people who told us it was impossible are now congratulating and thanking us for doing the impossible – not just for mobilizing responses, but for changing the narrative of health and development forever. By asking women what they want when it comes to their own healthcare, we have started a revolution in public health. As H.E. Helen Clark, current PMNCH Board Chair and previous Prime Minister of New Zealand, said during the recent Nairobi Summit: “There’s a lot of unpleasant truths that come with how short we are of fulfilling our commitments to SRHR. Let’s really take to heart what WRA is saying…we need to provide the services women are asking for.”
- In 2020, we are going to take the asks from women and girls and turn them into actionable agendas, so in 2021 we are no longer giving voice to what women want, but what women got!
- In 2019, we continued to advance our work on respectful maternity care (RMC). Globally, the number one response from What Women Want was respect and dignity, which speaks to WRA and partners efforts over the past 20 years supporting women to know and give voice to their entitlements. In 2019, we took our work one step further, expanding the RMC Charter to include the universal rights of women and newborns, with WRA India, WRA Zimbabwe and WRA Tanzania leading the way translating respectful principles into respectful practice. Among their efforts, development and roll out of national RMC implementation guidelines, creation of training and sensitization materials for health workers and community members alike, and prominent placements of patient’s rights charters in facilities across their respective countries.
- As a result of WRA Indonesia/Pita Putih’s incredible ability to mobilize thousands of grassroots activists, the newly re-elected President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, has included maternal, newborn and child health in his top five agenda, showing the power of our Global Alliance to connect the grassroots and the grasstops to propel change.
- National Alliances like WRA Kenya and WRA Uganda deepened their commitment to equity by developing new partners and programs that put those often found on the fringes at the center of their efforts by launching projects to ensure adolescent girls, people living with disabilities and refugees benefit from Universal Health Coverage initiatives.
- Safe Motherhood Network Federation (SMNF)/WRA Nepal strengthened the human rights protections of women by working to ensure the rights included under the new Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Rights Law are in fact extended to disadvantaged minority groups of women at the provincial level.
- WRA Malawi’s 2019 advocacy spurred the recruitment of nearly 1,500 midwives, practically doubling the number of practicing midwives in the country, helping to save countless lives by making sure more women receive the quality, qualified care they need during pregnancy and childbirth.
- White Ribbon Alliance launched an innovative monitoring and evaluation program that also evaluates accountability and learning measurements. WRA Nigeria became the first National Alliance to pilot the program, which so impressed the Niger State Ministry of Health that they want to incorporate our MEAL indicators and tools into their own monitoring of their Ward Health Development Committees.
Thank you for being part of our global movement, working to ensure that all women and girls realize their right to quality health and well-being. And, as we move into a new decade, we look forward to having your continued support as we challenge the status quo and demand women’s voices – and their requests for improved quality healthcare – are front and center in every global health conversation. Our achievements are your achievements. We simply could not do it without you.
As we celebrate 20 years of accomplishments, we recognize that we haven’t been able to achieve all that we set out to. You can help us reach the finish line: a world where every woman and girl survives and thrives through all phases of her life.
But first we want to celebrate. What has the White Ribbon Alliance movement meant to you and your community? Let us know by filling out this form and help recognize the people, events and campaigns that are changing the world.