Twelve women on the frontlines of health systems across the African continent including Ethiopia, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Malawi, Uganda, Nigeria, Togo and Ghana are the winners of the 2023 Women in Global Health Heroines of Health Awards.
Award winners have been recognized for their outstanding contribution to advance safe maternity and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in the context of a global campaign to roll-back decades of progress for the rights of women and girls.
Among them, a Ugandan community health worker advocating for sexual and reproductive health services in her district; a Kenyan feminist delivering disability-friendly medical abortion services in local health facilities; and a pioneering nursing graduate from rural Ghana, breaking social and gender norms to enable women and girls to access the health services they need.
“Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights are central to the sustainable development of societies, and the individual autonomy and well-being of women and girls,” said Dr Roopa Dhatt, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Women in Global Health.
“Women health workers, like the 2023 Heroines of Health are the backbone of our health systems, comprising the majority of health workers and accounting for over 90% of nurses and midwives. They play a crucial role in counseling and supporting women to access a range of modern contraceptives and make informed decisions about high-risk or unwanted pregnancies. Unfortunately, health workers face increasing challenges when carrying out this essential work.
“From violence and harassment at safe abortion facilities to online abuse, from legal threats to defunded services, women health workers are on the frontlines. Despite the intimidation, the dangers, and the moral injury, many put themselves at daily risk to provide care and support to women and girls. We should never underestimate the courage and the determination to provide care that health workers show every day.”
“On behalf of all Women in Global Health, I congratulate our 12 Awardees,” said Dr Dhatt.
Held on the sidelines of the 2023 Women Deliver Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, the Heroines of Health event on July 19 is the first time in its six year history that the Awards ceremony has been held in Africa and puts the spotlight on traditionally unrecognized women who are leading change in global health.
As well as the Heroines of Health, attendees will hear from keynote speaker, Hon Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders, First woman President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The event will be moderated by Femi Oke, renowned international broadcaster and journalist, with individual awards presented by leading figures in international politics and global health.