Every Woman Has the Capacity, What We Need is the Opportunity

by Amref Health Africa

Nothing about us, without us’ was the official theme of the 2019 Africa Health Agenda Inter- national Conference (AHAIC) Youth Pre-Conference, yet, these words resonated deeply with the energy women delegates attending the main conference of AHAIC exuded.

The final day of the 2019 AHAIC fell on the eve of the International Women’s Day, an annual day of collective recognition and celebration of women. In this conference, women from across the world shone as key note speakers on the Universal Health Coverage agenda in Africa and its implementation, as researchers, advocates, active facilitators, engaged delegates, and lead organizers. Amref Health Africa took this opportunity to launch the Women in Global Health Africa hub.

“It’s an exceptional accomplishment for us as women in global health to launch the Women in Global Health Africa hub. Through this platform, we will empower African women who are underrepresented in health leadership and advocate for gender equity in public health
across the continent. I see a transformative change in the next 5-10 years, where African women are supported, mentored and increasingly leading the charge to deliver on lasting health change for Africa,” said Desta Lakew ’Amref Health Africa’s Director of Partnerships.

Women in Global Health (WGH) is an organization, built on a global movement that brings together all genders and backgrounds to achieve gender equality in global health leadership. WGH believes that everyone has the right to attain equal levels of participation in leader- ship and decision-making regardless of gender. This hub creates a platform for discussions and collaborative space for leadership, facilitates specific education and training, garners support and commitment from the global community, and demands change for Gender Transformative Leadership.

As the narrative is changing, and equity is within reach, women are brilliantly shaping the direction of the health agenda impacting us and our communities. Taking this opportunity to showcase these women bringing lasting health changes, AHAIC 2019 organizers recognized several women for their leadership and efforts in promoting global health, including Dr Diane Gashumba, Rwanda’s Minister of Health, Katja Iversen, the CEO of Women Deliver, Nice Nailantei, a global End-FGM ambassador, Professor Miriam Were, a champion for an AIDS-Free Generation and Senait Fisseha Alemu, a health extension worker from Ethiopia. We also heard the voices of many powerful women – present, leading and engaged.

At Amref Health Africa, we recognize the work of Desta Lakew, Amref Health Africa’s Director of Partnerships for her hard work, commitment and exemplary work in facilitating a powerful platform to translate the implementation of the Universal Health Coverage into action.

”The conference has helped me see that there are many women ministers and entrepreneurs. It was very inspiring to see them in these positions and participating as panelists. This shows that every woman has the capacity, what we need is the opportunity. We don’t need someone to tell us to get up and speak, but instead we need to seize every.” Hanna Hansemo, Program Coordinator, Amref Ethiopia. opportunity to unleash our capacity.”

“The young women I met at AHAIC 2019 served as a reminder to myself and to the world that age is just a number when it comes to advocating for change. I was proud to see young African women sharing their ideas for change with experienced parliamentarians without breaking a sweat. It’s constantly said that women are the key to sustainable change in all of our communities and AHAIC 2019 showed me just how right that is.” Maryama Diaw, Development Associate, Amref Health Africa in USA.

“I saw many women take on leading roles in the conference. I think this allowed me to correct a misperception that only men take on the leading role. This was also a motivation. I am happy to join in on appreciating the involvement of women and thankful to have the rare opportunity to be sponsored to attend this conference.” Mihret Ayele, M&E Officer, Amref Ethiopia.

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