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Empowering women and girls as leaders of change

In Hatibandha, Bangladesh, a group of ten extraordinary women are providing support and guidance to other women in their community. Known as the North Gotamari Self Help Group, these women speak to expecting mothers and motivate them to attend prenatal and postnatal check-ups. Members of the Self Help Group often accompany expecting mothers to the local health clinic to ensure they’re admitted and sometimes provide financial support to those who don’t have the funds for transport to and from the clinic.

 

Our Impact

Plan International is working with over 3 million women and girls to increase their knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as about maternal, newborn and child health while improving their health in the process.

 

The gender connection to health services

As the women in the North Gotamari Group know, too many girls get married and have children when they’re still children themselves.

Many women and girls are not permitted from leaving their homes unaccompanied and are not included when decisions are made about their own health and the health of their children. As a result, it is very common for women and girls to have little knowledge or ways of getting information about sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health and related services. The health of woman and girls is also negatively impacted by other gender inequalities, such as the prevalence of gender-based violence and of harmful traditional practices. harmful traditional practices.* Harmful traditional practices are practices which have been committed primarily against women and girls in certain communities and societies for so long that they are considered, or presented by perpetrators, as part of accepted cultural practice.  

Young mother holding baby
Young mother holding baby

What Plan International is doing

Plan International projects work to increase knowledge and empower women and girls to exercise their right to make decisions about their own health and that of their children and to be included and be participants in general desicion making.

"Our Self Help Group initiatives are very small, but we think the impact will be big," says Lucky Begum, the group President. "The mothers and babies are in good health, which has given us inner satisfaction that encourages us to do more work for women and children."

Similar groups exist in Haiti, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania. The groups facilitate an intimate exchange of health information between women who can identify with one another’s experiences and challenges. When women are advised and encouraged by those they trust within their community, they’re more likely to act on the advice.

Mother carrying child on her back

In efforts to further improve the social and financial capital of women and adolescent girls, Plan International is setting up village and youth savings-and-loan associations in communities, and encouraging groups to focus on saving for those who may need financial help during health emergencies.

Other activities Plan International is implementing with communities to improve the social status and position of women and girls are:

  • Distributing materials about sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health and rights issues and services.
  • Providing training to women’s groups, men’s groups, and youth groups about gender equality, gender-based violence and child, early and forced marriage.
  • Mobilizing influential women as champions of change in their communities.

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