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Neville Okwaro

Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) & Gender, Youth, Equity, & Social Inclusion

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Initially, women’s health and generally women’s rights took a more combative approach, which was counterproductive. Today, I am seeing a trend that is gaining traction through the adoption of a multi-stakeholder approach and a systems approach to ensure not only the inclusion of various stakeholders but also an understanding of the roles of all stakeholders and how they can influence women’s health. There is a deliberate approach to promoting inclusion and deepening understanding of the rights of women from a non-discrimination, equity, and inclusion lens. This is more holistic.

Secondly, the place of culture and the environment is being interrogated. It also looks at underlying issues affecting women’s health and how they are deeply rooted in culture, traditions, or political and social ideology. Practitioners and advocates of women’s health are looking at local and home bred solutions that are unique to specific areas and not replicating and forcing predetermined approaches onto grassroots women and organizations.

Reduced funding streams: Funding for women’s health issues is dwindling hence the need to improvise and innovate new funding streams to support the scaling of women’s health. Additionally, donors support already tried-out and tested approaches and are careful not to get into new approaches that would cost time and money to study their efficacy.

Typical and mundane approaches: Most approaches to promoting women’s health issues have been used over time without producing desired results. Yet, these are still used over time and have no effect or impact.

Unintentional stakeholder involvement: Even though women’s issues to a large degree deal with women and girls, our work in sub-Saharan Africa has brought us to the realization of the importance of involving men and boys in this discourse. This is mainly because the man is considered to be the purse holder, shops for the family, and determines how family finance is used. Men also need to understand their women’s health issues so that they can not only support them but also take a step to champion improved health.

Adopting a life course approach: At each and every stage of life, women and girls face different vulnerabilities that affect their health. It is therefore critical to understand that women and girls are not homogeneous but heterogeneous and their health issues as well. Therefore, they should be dealt with in isolation taking cognizance of their unique peculiarities.

Flexibility from donors: Donors should allow flexibility in trying out new approaches to promote, highlight, and profile access to women’s health. This will promote innovations and develop a rich repertoire of approaches that can be adopted.

Male Involvement: There should be deliberate involvement of men and boys to further support women’s health from a point of knowledge and appreciation.

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