The African Women’s Initiative AWI

Linked with Millicent Obaso – Kenya, and with The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The Africa Women’s Initiative AWI is a joint effort by the American Red Cross and African Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to reduce the high rate of maternal and child mortality in Africa. AWI is a five-year, integrated, community-based health education and advocacy program with a gender component. Spanning from July 2001 – July 2006, the program aims to recruit and train a large number of volunteers who will educate women about health issues. Women are the primary caretakers of children, extended families, the sick and the elderly of their communities. Women spend many hours a day in search of clean water, firewood and food, while bearing the greatest burden of poverty, disease, water/food insecurity and conflict. Gender inequality exacerbates the vulnerability of women in all areas by reducing their decision-making power at the family and community level. For women to be effective in their contribution to development and child-rearing, it is important that the health and development problems affecting them be addressed.

Goal: To save the lives of women and children in Africa

Objectives: To increase

  • Health status of beneficiary women and children
  • Availability of quality services for women and children
  • Gender equality of female and male utilization of programs
  • National Society capacities to plan, implement and sustain quality programs for women and children
  • Skills of female volunteers and staff of National Societies in assertiveness, negotiation and leadership to improve decision-making on the job, in the their communities and within their families.

Activities include

  • Ensuring adequate prenatal care through volunteers who promote early and frequent visits to existing health providers,
  • Supporting volunteer advocacy activities preventing harmful practices that affect women,
  • Offering training in basic maternal and child health and good nutrition practices,
  • Educating young girls in culturally appropriate communication and decision-making skills,
  • Distributing information to women and girls about HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted disease prevention,
  • Mobilizing women to visit government health facilities and if necessary accompanying them on the visit.

(Read the rest about this work on The American Red Cross’ Africa Women’s Initiative AWI).

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