PROGRES requires a keen gender perspective

By Alanna Savage and Andrew Gaydos

Alanna Savage is a Senior Communications Specialist for the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and Andrew Gaydos is a Project Support Associate at MSH.

In our ambitious vision to reach all people, everywhere, it is ever more necessary to examine the varying life experiences–the actual realities–of the people whose health we work to improve. Part of this examination requires a critical look at how gender plays out in the power structures of society, the daily lives of people, and more concretely, in the “who, what, where, when, and how” of health-seeking behavior and access to essential reproductive and maternal health care.

Maternal mortality in Mali remains high–587 women die for every 100,000 live births–but only 28 percent of sexually active women of reproductive have satisfied their demand for family planning.  Women and girls continue to confront widespread sexual and gender-based violence, including female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C); in 2015, about 126,000 women and girls received prevention services, protection, and care related to FGM/C. And thanks to the work of the FCI Program of MSH, traditional and faith leaders are advocating for family planning and coming together to provide support to survivors of gender-based violence and to identify early warning signs of imminent violence.

Gender inequality undoubtedly plays a role in high maternal mortality and unmet need for family planning and the continuance of sexual and gender-based violence. As long as women and girls must continue to fight for equal voice and an equal share of opportunity and power, their lives and health will remain under threat. Gender influences health outcomes, access to care, providers’ treatment of patients, relationships among health workers and supervisors, and health career barriers and opportunities.

Photo by Catherine Lalonde

Continue reading “PROGRES requires a keen gender perspective”

We are fearless. #FearlessFeb

Photo by Joey O’Loughlin

We are celebrating Fearless February to rally the global community around advocacy for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health!

This month, the FCI Program of MSH will feature stories about fearless champions, powerful evidence, and advocacy wins from the Rights & Realities archive. Follow #FearlessFeb on Twitter and Facebook to read the story of the day.

Join us on Twitter and Facebook, and tell us:
What makes you fearless? What does “fearless” mean to you?
Subscribe to Rights & Realities (on the homepage, right column) to receive emails of new posts.


Trump’s global gag rule silences doctors and midwives and harms their patients

By Catharine Taylor

Catharine Taylor is Vice President for health programs at Management Sciences for Health. This post originally appeared on STAT News

Midwifery students in Sierra Leone, which has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Funding for safe pregnancy and delivery worldwide is threatened by President Trump’s reinstatement of the global gag rule. (Photo by MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump’s reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, better known as the global gag rule, came as no surprise to anyone working in the field of global health. We have been through this before — in 1984, when the policy was first put into effect by President Reagan, and then in 1993, 2001, and 2009, when it was repealed, reinstated, and repealed again.

The Mexico City Policy is called a gag rule because it limits not just what organizations and health providers do but what they are permitted to say. It prevents foreign organizations that receive US government funding from performing abortions — even if they are using funds from non-US government sources and even if abortion is completely legal in their countries.

The global gag rule also steps right between a woman and her doctor, nurse, or midwife, preventing these frontline health providers from telling their patients about the full, legal range of health options available to them. It forbids trusted advisers from giving honest, comprehensive health advice and information. I started my career as a nurse-midwife, and then worked in maternal and newborn health programs in Africa and Asia, so I know what this will mean for the lives and health of women and their families. Continue reading “Trump’s global gag rule silences doctors and midwives and harms their patients”

Uniting the Community to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence in Mali

Martha Murdock is Technical Strategy Lead for regional programs at the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health. This post originally appeared on MSH’s Global Health Impact Blog

As a part of the international “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence” campaign for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls, MSH is sharing its experience working to eradicate gender-based violence.

Photo credit: Adama Sanogo/MSH
Photo credit: Adama Sanogo/MSH

“We remember the hard times the women and girls of Douentza have experienced,” said Animata Bassama, a representative of the women of Douentza, referring to the fighting and ensuing gender-based violence (GBV) that plagued Mali in 2012.

Animata spoke to a crowd of 100 government officials, NGO representatives, health and finance officials, women’s advocates, and community members. A new center for GBV survivors, fortified by concrete and adorned in yellow and pink, was her backdrop. Continue reading “Uniting the Community to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence in Mali”

WILD women with disabilities call for social inclusion through photos and stories

Ariadna Capasso is senior technical advisor for the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health. 

Women and young persons with disabilities are particularly powerful voices in the movement for gender equality and social inclusion. Last month, I had the privilege to moderate a panel of outspoken activists with disabilities to commemorate the opening of the two-week photo exhibit, Brilliant and Resilient: Celebrating the Power of Women Activists with Disabilities, at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.

Continue reading “WILD women with disabilities call for social inclusion through photos and stories”

WE DECIDE: Young persons with disabilities call for equal rights and a life free of violence

Ariadna Capasso is Senior Technical Advisor for the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health.

Violence against women, including forced or coerced sex, is an epidemic that persists all over the world. But women with disabilities, often marginalized and denied their sexual and reproductive health rights, are particularly vulnerable to such abuse.

In June, UNFPA launched WE DECIDE, a global initiative to promote gender equality and social inclusion of young persons with disabilities and advocate for the end of sexual violence. The FCI Program of MSH worked with UNFPA and a broad range of partners in the field of disabilities to build consensus for the framework of the four-year initiative and to develop communications materials for the initiative, including a video and an infographic that conveys key messages and data on the status of persons with disabilities and gender-based violence.

Photo by the Spanish Cooperation (AECID)
An expert and advocate for persons with disabilities attends a strategy meeting to discuss the new WE DECIDE initiative. Photo by the Spanish Cooperation (AECID)

Continue reading “WE DECIDE: Young persons with disabilities call for equal rights and a life free of violence”

Wilson Center Event: After Copenhagen, What Next for Women and Girls?

This post originally appeared on the Maternal Health Task Force blog.

We are excited to announce the upcoming policy dialogue, After Copenhagen, What Next for Women and Girls? The event will take place in Washington, D.C. at The Wilson Center (and online!) on Monday, July 18, 2016. This dialogue is part of the Maternal Health Task Force’s Advancing Policy Dialogue on Maternal Health Series, in partnership with UNFPA and the Wilson Center.

In May, nearly 6,000 people focused on improving the wellbeing of women and girls met in Copenhagen for the Women Deliver conference. They shared stories of progress and hope, discussed challenges, and proposed solutions to some of the most pressing health and rights issues facing girls and women today.

Please join us as we explore ways to deliver results from the largest conference of its kind. Panelists will present in-country perspectives on key maternal health takeaways and the implications for the health and rights agenda in their countries.


  • Alix Bacon, President, Midwives Association of British Columbia
  • Dr. Mary Nambao, Deputy Director, Mother Health, Ministry of Health in Zambia
  • Susan Papp, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Women Deliver

Moderated by Roger-Mark De Souza, Director, Population, Environmental Security, and Resilience, Wilson Center

Event Details

Register for the event here

When: Monday, July 18, 2016 from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM EST

Where: The Wilson Center, 5th floor conference room, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, 1300 Pennsylvania, Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20004

Join us online! Tune in to the live webcast or view the archive after the meeting here.

Join the conversation on Twitter at @NewSecurityBeat and @MHTF and by following #MHdialogue. To find more coverage of these issues on the Wilson Center’s blog,

Melissa Wanda nominated for her achievements in reproductive health

Melissa Wanda Kirowo is Advocacy Project Officer for the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health, was nominated for the 120 Under 40 Project by family planning colleagues for her substantial contributions to improving access to family planning in Kenya. The 120 Under 40 Project will select 40 reproductive health champions in 2016, 2017, and 2019 to build a roster of 120 exceptional young leaders by 2020, when the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) partnership aims to reach 120 million additional women and girls with access to life-saving contraceptives and other reproductive health supplies. Read Melissa’s profile first appeared on 120 Under 40.

Toast to the FCI Program of MSH: Women Deliver 2016 (#WD2016)

By Barbara Ayotte

Barbara Ayotte is Senior Director of Communications at Management Sciences for Health. This post originally appeared on the Global Health Impact Blog.

 {Photo: Joey O'Loughlin}
Women Deliver attendees celebrate the launch of the FCI Program of MSH Photo: Joey O’Loughlin

The FCI Program of MSH will maintain and strengthen the spirit and vision of FCI.
–Dr. Jonathan D. Quick, MSH

MSH hosted a lively reception at the close of the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. More than 150 guests joined us to celebrate the recently launched FCI Program of MSH, an advocacy and accountability program drawing upon the staff and projects of Family Care International (FCI). The work of the FCI Program of MSH builds on FCI’s 30-year history of effective advocacy for improved maternal, newborn, and adolescent health and for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Women Deliver began in 2007 as a program of FCI, so this 4th and largest-ever Women Deliver conference was an especially appropriate place to honor FCI’s legacy and celebrate the FCI Program’s future within MSH. Continue reading “Toast to the FCI Program of MSH: Women Deliver 2016 (#WD2016)”