Published 26 Feb 2019
"We live in a world where being born female is a health risk."
At the extreme, girls in India are at the risk even in the womb. The country has banned gender identification during ultrasounds to tackle the scourge of foeticide, yet still at birth and throughout their lives girls are often denied access to healthcare, putting their lives at risk as a result.
Pregnancy and childbirth expose women to unnecessary risk when quality maternity care isn’t available. This is exacerbated when child-marriage leads to child-pregnancy and when there is no effective prevention for the spread of HIV.
If a family member becomes ill, it is most often a female relative who will take on the mantle of care and household responsibility. Being forced to leave work and education, their poverty becomes further entrenched and they are denied opportunities to work toward a healthier and more prosperous future.
Tragically, despite having taken the role of carer and head of household, women are all too often disinherited. While they grieve for their husbands and fathers, male members of the extended family come and force them from their homes, claiming them for themselves.
For these reasons and so many more, EMMS International is committed to redressing the balance by making the health and healthcare of women and girls a priority across all of our work.
In Malawi, our partners are giving women a voice to advocate for the health services they need. Getting together with others in their villages, they are ensuring their communities get access to food and clean water, vaccinations for their children and protection from HIV.
In India, The Duncan Hospital is reaching out to surrounding communities to make sure girls who might otherwise be denied access to healthcare, get the care they require. They also go much further by helping girls get access to vocational training so that they can lift themselves and their families out of poverty. At the same time, they are protected from child marriage, learn about their individual rights and get counselling on how to care for themselves and access health services should they need to.
In all of our palliative care work, our partners are not only addressing the physical needs of their patients but are also providing support and advice to their wider family. Their care helps family members return to work and education because medical care is better managed. It ensured the whole family get the emotional and spiritual care they need to better cape with the burden and loss they experience. It also includes legal advice to help protect women and girls’ inheritance.