What Women Want Around the World

The What Women Want campaign heard from more than 1 million women and girls in 114 countries about the one thing they want most for their own reproductive and maternal health care.

 Around the world, women are telling us to lift our heads, challenge and listen to our assumptions and assuredness. Now equipped with the data and the ability to truly explore women’s demands, we can collectively take one step closer to heeding their call.

Midwives’ Voices,
Midwives’ Demands

The request for more midwives and nurses was one of the highest requests from the What Women Want campaign. What Women Want demands have turned into a powerful advocacy agenda that is already seeing dozens of policy, budget, and point of service improvements. Now, to fully realize the demand for midwives, we need to understand better from midwives themselves what they want and need.

Explore Women’s Demands

Introducing the What Women Want Dashboard

The 1.2 million open-ended responses White Ribbon Alliance received have been categorized, analyzed, and are now available at your fingertips through the What Women Want Interactive Dashboard, a unique tool that connects women’s voices with the almost infinite possibilities of digital analysis.

The Dashboard offers an unprecedented level of access to women’s demands to allow anyone, anywhere to see exactly what women want when it comes to their healthcare, and to meaningfully respond.             

We asked, we listened, and now we’re excited to act – with all of you – in delivering on these demands to make sure that what women want,
is what women get.

Resource Suite

Another Listen
This report explores the inseparable link between health from equality for all women and girls. (June 2021)

Country Advocacy Agendas
Based on women’s demands, the advocacy agendas captures key action items to drive changes in services and programs.
India | Kenya | Malawi | Nigeria | Pakistan | Uganda (April 2021)

Behind the Demands
This report goes behind the top demands to provide more detail about what women asked for and how we can act accordingly. (November 2020)

Advocacy Agenda: Join 1 Million Women
Based on women’s demands, the advocacy agenda captures key action items to drive changes in services and programs. (July 2020)

Global Findings
What Women Want global findings (June 2019)

Country Findings
India | Kenya | Malawi | Mexico (English) (Spanish) | Nigeria
Pakistan | Tanzania (English) (Kiswahili) | Uganda (September 2019)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why this campaign?

What Women Want: Demands for Quality Healthcare for Women and Girls is a global advocacy campaign to improve quality maternal and reproductive healthcare for women and girls and strengthen health systems (see current reproductive and maternal health statistics below). When healthcare is informed by the women and girls who use it, it’s better healthcare. That is why White Ribbon Alliance has always worked to increase collaboration between citizens and governments to identify the challenges and co-create solutions to improve reproductive and maternal health outcomes. The What Women Want campaign embodies this principle.

Who are the survey results intended for?

The results of the What Women Want survey are intended to inform health policies, programs and practices at the national and community levels and it is our hope that Ministers of Health, Education and Family Welfare, among others, will look closely at what women and girls have said so that they can build policies that respond to their self-articulated needs. We hope that community-based organizations do the same so that their programs accurately reflect women’s and girls’ demands.

How is it different from other surveys?

In the most basic way, this survey was different in that it posed an open-ended question, allowing for any response. The campaign was also different in that it collected women’s aspirations – what women want – rather than their complaints. The focus was to give voice to women and enable them to speak out about quality of care. We wanted to place women’s self-articulated needs at the center of health policies, programs and accountability, and their responses will allow us to do that. Across global health and development efforts, there has been a push to get women into health facilities, but if those facilities do not meet the needs of women, not only will women not seek them out, but the services will not be effective. This survey also stood out in it’s global reach of nearly 1.2 million women – the largest ever survey of women and girls about their wants for reproductive and maternal healthcare.

What was the process of collecting responses - was it the same in every country, and how did the process impact answers?

Just as the women and girls who took the survey, the process for collecting responses was unique depending on the country and partner. From the beginning the survey was offered online – people could click on a link and answer the question or tag us on social media with a photo of themselves with their printed survey filled in. As the campaign grew, the in-person outreach grew and mobilizers were trained on how to approach women and girls to ensure that they understood the campaign, it’s goals and how their responses would be used. In some countries it was one person passionately taking up the cause, in others there were groups of mobilizers going from village to village with pen and paper surveys in hand. Sometimes there were community meetings where large numbers of women gathered to hear about the campaign and fill out the survey, again on paper. When there were large groups taking the survey together, we noticed that responses were often similar. No matter the method, each woman was given the opportunity to express herself individually.

How did you reach so many women?

Founded 20 years ago as a grassroots movement, White Ribbon Alliance has a deep network of passionate citizens, health providers, health policy makers, advocates and organizations and is known for amplifying women’s voices to accelerate progress for reproductive and maternal health. This allowed us to quickly mobilize existing partners and enlist new advocates to reach women and girls in large cities, small villages and everywhere in between in nearly every country. Volunteers also came forward to translate materials into 17 languages. Where WRA has current Alliances and or active projects, we were able to go very deep and mobilize hundreds of thousands of responses. We also provided small grants to groups who were actively mobilizing responses, which allowed them to travel to outlying areas, translate from local languages and compile results.

What actions are being taken as a result of the findings?

From immediate changes within communities such as constructions of kitchens and toilets in Malawi to larger policy changes to support respectful maternity care in India, women’s and girls’ responses are already having an impact. Some specific examples include:

  • On April 10, 2017, members from White Ribbon Alliance India and 150 women campaign participants formally presented their demands to India’s Health Minister J.P. Nadda. The Minister promised to strengthen feedback mechanisms for women who submit their concerns. The government also launched the Labour Room Quality Improvement Initiative (LaQshya) with respectful maternity care (RMC) as a central pillar; mirroring the need expressed by women throughout India. From local to district, from state to national, Hamara Swasthya Hamari Awaaz connected all the links in the chain from women expressing their needs to high level decision makers committing to action—and then back again to informing communities of progress and commitments.
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) emerged as one of the major asks in Malawi; WRA Malawi conducted WASH-related advocacy and accountability work in Chitipa District that included gathering evidence in health facilities there. The District Management Team and partners then committed to construct a new maternity wing, renovate plumbing systems, build new pit latrines and placenta pits, and install new WASH facilities in four health facilities. WRA Malawi will continue to collect evidence and community input on WASH-related issues in health facilities and is well-positioned to contribute to formulating a larger advocacy agenda on WASH and reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health services in Malawi.

Where can I find picture submissions of the survey?

A picture is worth a thousand words, and the pictures collected as part of the What Women Want campaign speak volumes. Survey submissions are featured across the entire series of What Women Want global and national-level reports, as well as in the What Women Want Photo Gallery website.

You can hear as well as see campaign participants – speaking in their own words – on the What Women Want playlist on White Ribbon Alliance’s YouTube channel.