This blog post was written by Stephanie Bowen, Director, Strategic Communication, White Ribbon Alliance, as part of Global Health Council’s Member Spotlight series. White Ribbon Alliance is activating a people-led movement for reproductive, maternal health and rights so that all girls and women realize their right to quality health and well-being. Launching on April 11th – International Day of Maternal Health and Rights – the What Women Want campaign has a bold goal of reaching 1 million girls and women worldwide. White Ribbon Alliance is a 2018 Global Health Council member.
In just five days, global and national partners will officially launch the What Women Want campaign. Coinciding with International Day of Maternal Health and Rights, we are coming together under one unified, neutrally-branded campaign to put women’s and girls’ voices front and center in identifying their priorities for quality reproductive, maternal health and rights.
Based on a similar campaign by White Ribbon Alliance India, What Women Want will bring together individuals and organizations worldwide to ask this basic yet often ignored question: What is your one request for quality reproductive and maternal healthcare services? The answers heard in India were simple: My own bed. Enough supplies for mine and my baby’s medical needs. A clean facility. To be treated with respect. Simple, yet profound in that every woman should be able to expect these fundamental services, no matter where she lives, what religion she practices or her income level.
Despite significant progress, the current state of reproductive, maternal and sexual health for women and girls is far from optimal: Approximately 300,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth every year. Millions still lack access to quality reproductive and sexual healthcare. And for girls age 15 to 19 years old, complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death.
Transforming this picture begins with women and girls.
The findings will be aggregated for a global picture of what women and girls want and disaggregated by country to help governments focus their human and financial resources in a way that will enhance health services, improve health outcomes and strengthen health systems.
A two-year campaign that will collect and analyze responses throughout 2018 and distill and disseminate findings throughout 2019, What Women Want is meant to be owned by the women and girls who respond and all the organizations who participate. Coordinated by the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) Global Secretariat based in Washington, D.C., What Women Want is guided by a steering committee comprised of White Ribbon Alliance India, White Ribbon Alliance Global Secretariat, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), Every Mother Counts (EMC), International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and E4A-MamaYe—with many more participating partners. The steering committee is also consulting with representatives of Every Woman, Every Child (EWEC), the World Health Organization’s Quality of Care Network (WHO QoC Network), and the global Quality, Equity and Dignity Advocacy Working Group (QED AWG) to align efforts and ensure the voices of women and girls are incorporated into current quality-related initiatives.
We’ve built a website, translated surveys into French, Hindi, Spanish and Swahili, and put together shareable graphics to help get the word out. But if it’s going to be successful, we need to hear from as many women and girls as possible, particularly those in low and middle-income countries whose voice often goes unheard.
That’s where you come in!
Help launch the campaign by joining the What Women Want Twitter chat on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, from 10 AM ET to 11 AM ET and share why you are joining this movement for quality healthcare. Then take – and share – the survey!
Together, we can ensure that all women and girls receive quality healthcare as they understand it.