It’s a project that has been years in the making; 19 years, if you trace back to the original moment of inspiration, which was sparked during a conversation between Dr. Melissa Smith and a group of midwives in Guatemala in 1996. Melissa was leading a workshop on safe motherhood and family planning, field testing material for Hesperian’s Where Women Have No Doctor. The midwives loved it — but they wanted more.
“The indigenous midwives said the information in that book was very important, even lifesaving, but they needed strategies to raise awareness that the lives and health of women and girls mattered. They wanted to learn how to organize and mobilize their communities, to advocate for the health and rights of women and girls.”
And so the idea for Health Actions for Women: Practical Strategies to Mobilize for Change was born.
Last week, friends, supporters, and women’s health advocates gathered at the Planned Parenthood Global offices in New York City to celebrate the launch of Health Actions for Women, a worldwide collaboration involving a global steering committee and grassroots groups in 23 countries, 1400 people in all.
“Planned Parenthood Global works in partnership across Africa and Latin America to ensure that women, men, and young people in some of the world’s most neglected areas have access to the health care they need to control their bodies and their futures. That’s why we have been so honored to be able to support the release of Health Actions for Women, a key resource for global health and advocacy efforts,” Latanya Mapp Frett, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Global and Vice President – Global of PPFA, shared with attendees.
“This important resources provides concrete tools to engage communities and empower women of all ages and backgrounds…At Planned Parenthood Global, we are particularly proud of our regional staff, who coordinated directly with Hesperian to field test and review three key chapters for the book,” added Mapp Frett.
Health Actions for Women has been endorsed by Cecile Richards of PPFA, Dr. Paul Farmer of Partners in Health, Judy Norsigian of Our Bodies Ourselves, and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Rigoberta Menchú Tum, among others. The book offers accessible strategies to tackle the difficult topics in women’s health by helping communities address the underlying causes of poor health, from challenging violence against women to improving access to family planning, and from fostering safe motherhood and promoting strategies for better sexual health and safe motherhood, to improving access to appropriate health services. Read the full book launch press release.
In her remarks at the event, Melissa Smith thanked key members of the global steering committee for the book including speakers Lucy Atkin and Hesperian’s Executive Director and co-author Sarah Shannon, along with the entire Planned Parenthood team.
“This remarkable grassroots collaboration yielded a resource…that helps people understand how the toxic triad of patriarchy, poverty, and racism undermines everyone’s health, and how working for change benefits women and men of all ages,” she concluded.
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