Women empowerment critical for economic growth

Prof Marleen Temmerman, Chair of the Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, Aga Khan University (AKU) Medical College in East Africa (Photo: Courtesy)
Governments, policymakers and academic institutions have been urged to put more investment and resources towards improving women’s health, education and empowerment to fast track the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda.

During a public lecture at the Aga Khan University, Prof Marleen Temmerman, Chair of the Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, Aga Khan University (AKU) Medical College in East Africa said that women’s health, education, and empowerment is very critical to a nation’s sustainability and economic growth.

“Special attention must be given to the health needs and rights of women and adolescents girls who belong to one or multiple disadvantaged groups, including those in the poorest households, and recognising the importance of introducing interventions to reduce inequalities and commitment to equality of access and outcome for these disadvantaged groups.”

To improve the health needs and rights of women and adolescent girls, some of the recommendations highlighted include; proper investments towards equipping hospitals and healthcare clinics, training midwives and birth attendants to reduce incidences of maternal and child mortality, ending gender-based violence and bringing services closer to where women and adolescent girls live.

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Besides, equal access and proper investment in quality education, expanding access to family planning, sexual and reproductive health for women and adolescents girls are key interventions that can help reduce health inequalities and improve health.

“We urgently need to address these gaps in the health of women and adolescent girls to break the cycle of poverty. Importantly, education and health go hand in hand and empowered women are more likely to have healthier families, improved economic and social status, which in the long-run, has a profound impact on the health status and economy of a country,” added Prof Marleen.

Prof Marleen’s also encouraged academic institutions and healthcare professionals to work closely with parliamentarians and elected leaders through advocacy to address the challenges facing women in health, education and empowerment through building closer ties and collaborations.

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“To ensure that issues on women health and empowerment are high on the country’s agenda, there is a great need to closely work with our parliamentarians and elected leaders through partnerships, advocacy and strengthening our efforts to improve the quality of life for all people and the well-being of our nations,” she added.

The public lecture was organized by the Aga Khan University Medical College and School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa as part of the 60th anniversary of the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi (AKUHN). The public lecture series has been running from October 2019 to February 2020.

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