Health as a Human Right
Gender Equality & Rights
Although the Alliance began as an organic movement, it quickly grew, adding governance structures, such as a Global and National Secretariats, to aid in decision-making and information sharing. The Global Secretariat serves as the hub with the National Alliances as the spokes; both are central to the functioning of the wheel.
810 women die every day from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth; every year, 2.5 million babies die during their first 28 days of life and a similar number are stillborn. These deaths bring social and economic hardship to individuals, families, communities and countries. Most are preventable.
By educating and empowering people around their reproductive, maternal and newborn health and rights, including their right to participate, and directly influencing decision-makers and supporting them to respond, we can accelerate progress so that all women and girls realize their right to quality health and well-being.
As the central hub of the Global Alliance, we unite the National Alliance’s to work and learn together to advance reproductive, maternal and newborn health and rights. Through active engagement with a wide range of partners, including corporations, media, professional bodies, UN agencies, NGOs and Parliamentarians, the Global Secretariat positions WRA National Alliances to raise the voices of citizens to global platforms, including at the World Health Assembly and United Nations General Assembly, which reinforce global efforts and bolster WRA National Alliance campaigns.
For 20 years, White Ribbon Alliance has been a leader in advancing women’s health and rights. Our impact is the collective impact of the National Alliances. Over the years, we’ve worked to ensure practices are more responsive to actual needs, increased focus on quality of care, and embedded respectful maternity care as a standard practice.
We’ve pioneered citizen-led accountability efforts through supporting women and communities to know their rights and demand action. We’ve also supported policy makers to respond to those demands, resulting in increased health budgets that expand availability of emergency services for women and newborns.
Our most recent impacts include:
- Our leadership around respectful maternity care influenced the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women to focus on violence against women during pregnancy and childbirth in her 2019 report, providing important legitimacy to the issue of obstetric violence.
- In 2018, launched the global What Women Want campaign, which mobilized almost 1.2 million responses worldwide. Today, advocacy strategies are being developed based on women’s self-articulated needs, creating a truly responsive.
- In 2017, together with Bayer, launched community implementation projects in Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Bolivia, helping to define and articulate maternal, newborn, child health self-care while strengthening global and national leadership and addressing individual knowledge gaps.
- In 2016, together with World Health Organization and International Confederation of Midwives, launched the groundbreaking Midwives’ Voices, Midwives’ Realities, the largest global survey of midwifery personnel, detailing the barriers that midwives face in providing high-quality care to mothers and babies.
Together with Bayer and Every Woman Every Child, WRA celebrates self-care campaign successes during a side-event at the 2017 High-Level Political Forum in New York City. From left to right: VOA Health Reporter Linord Moudou; Erica Mann, President Consumer Health Division and Member of the Board of Management, Bayer AG; Betsy McCallon, CEO, White Ribbon Alliance and Arthur Eken from UNFPA.
WRA Malawi National Coordinator, Nancy Kamwendo (far right) is a featured speaker during the 2017 Washington, D.C. launch of the Midwives’ Voices, Midwives’ Realities report, co-authored by WHO, ICM and WRA. The ground-breaking report was the largest global survey to date of midwives and illuminated widespread disrespect, abuse and low-pay for midwives around the world.
It was a packed house at the 3rd Annual Global Citizens’ Dialogue, held inside the 2017 World Health Assembly in Geneva. The yearly event brings together citizens and policy makers at the highest levels and is organized by WRA, IPPF, Save the Children and World Vision who make-up the Citizen-Led Accountability Coalition. Photo by Oliver Hanlan.
WRA Nepal’s Youth Ambassador, Jemie Shrestha, tells her health minister, who is seated next to her, about the challenges she and other young women have experienced around accessing sexual and reproductive health care, at the 3rd Annual Global Citizens’ Dialogue. Photo by Oliver Hanlan.
WRA Nigeria’s Youth Ambassador, Maryam Ahmad, gives remarks at an event launching findings from the High Level Working Group on Health and Human Rights during the 2017 World Health Assembly in Geneva.
WRA amplified voices of midwives as partners at the ICM Triennial Congress in Toronto, June 2017.
WRA’s Citizen Journalist training equips ordinary people with the skills and confidence needed to become advocates, telling theirs and others’ stories in a way that spurs change. We conducted an abridged training for midwives at the ICM Triennial Congress in Toronto, June 2017.
Representatives from the Global Secretariat and nearly all 14 WRA National Alliances attended the July 2017 WRA global meeting where shared best practices, lessons learned and gave input for our 2018-2022 strategic plan.
WRA Uganda citizen journalist, Elman Nsinda (center), speaks to journalists and bloggers during the Social Good Summit Master Class at the 71st UN General Assembly. Nsinda was one of three country-representatives who participated in the international meeting.
RESPECTFUL MATERNITY CARE: By treating new mothers with respect and dignity, midwives and other health workers can improve maternal health outcomes by encouraging more women to seek the qualified care they need
Thank you to our partners
Averting Maternal Death and Disability
Bayer Consumer Care
Bill and Melina Gates Foundation
Center for Reproductive Rights
Every Woman Every Child
FCI Program of MSH
Frontline Health Workers Association
Global Health Advocacy Incubator
Global Health Council
Health Policy Project
International Confederation of Midwives
Maternal Health Task Force
The Palladium Group
Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition
Save the Children
Self-Care Trailblazers Group
World Health Organization
Chief Executive Officer
As Chief Executive Officer of White Ribbon Alliance, Betsy McCallon is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the organization and developing plans, a dynamic team and resources to deliver it. Betsy joined White Ribbon Alliance in 2004 and has contributed to the growth of the Alliance from a loose network to a driver for global attention and commitments to reproductive and maternal health and rights with a focus on national advocacy and accountability. Betsy is a global spokesperson and champion for citizen participation and empowerment to advance health and rights; she regularly contributes to publications, speaks at key events, and serves on numerous coalitions and Boards. Betsy has lived and worked in sub-Saharan Africa and Central America and worked in more than 20 countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. When she’s not working, Betsy spends much of her time outdoors - cycling, exploring the city and watching soccer.
• Pregnant in a War Zone: Why Respectful Maternity Care Matters in Humanitarian Settings
• Women and Girls Must Become Champions for Their Own Health
• From Historic Breakthrough to Colossal Breakdown
• Quality, Equity and Dignity: A Solution for Every Woman, Every Newborn, Everywhere
• Giving Voice to the Realities of Stillbirth
• Beyond the Safe Motherhood Initiative: Accelerated Action Urgently Needed to End Preventable Maternal Mortality
• Listen. Invest. Focus on Human Rights. A Call to Action for PMNCH
National Coordinator, WRA Zimbabwe
Geraldine Nyaku holds a BA Law degree from the University of Johannesburg and a post-graduate certificate on Women’s Rights in Africa from the Center of Human Rights, University of Pretoria. She is an alumna of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Center (RLC) Southern Africa (SA). She is a women’s rights activist who has been working in the civic society for the past six years. She has extensive experience in advocacy, lobbying for children and women’s rights, conducting trainings on gender based violence, women’s rights, the constitution and its compliance with legislative policies and facilitation. She has worked with diverse communities at grassroots level and with different government structures from local authorities to ministries and policy makers to advocate for the rights of women and children. She believes that White Ribbon Alliance is a great platform for advancing women and newborn’s rights and to contribute towards social change and community development. She hopes to bring her multifaceted leadership style and innovative solutions to improve and promote maternal and new born health and rights both in the national and global alliance.
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