Top 5 Reasons Why Women's Voices Matter When it Comes to Reproductive and Maternal Healthcare

By Kristy Kade, Director, Advocacy and Programs, White Ribbon Alliance

At White Ribbon Alliance, we push for women's perspectives to be included in the design of new health programs and policies and the strengthening of existing services.

 When women and girls have a voice, progress accelerates. Photo credit: WRA Malawi.

When women and girls have a voice, progress accelerates. Photo credit: WRA Malawi.

It's such a fundamental part of who we are as an organization that we're coordinating a global campaign around this principle. What Women Want: Demands for quality healthcare for women and girls aims to hear from 1 million women about their top priority for quality healthcare services.

We want to know what quality healthcare means to women and girls no matter where they live, what religion they practice or economic status in which they fall. And while every woman’s voice matters, we hope to hear from those who are often most quiet. Why? Because without their guidance, the changes we hope to see in the world in terms of quality health and quality lives will never happen.

Here are the top five reasons I believe women’s and girls’ voices can transform healthcare for the better:

5. When women and girls have a voice, progress accelerates. Nobody knows the challenges or the solutions better than the people using the services meant for them — so involving them from the outset is a no-brainer.

4. Quality means different things to different people. In a community without running water, the top priority for women might be that all clinics are equipped with clean water and proper sanitation and hygiene. In another mired in ongoing conflict, it may be a safe place to give birth and care for an infant.

3. The global health community has made tremendous progress when it comes to women’s and girls’ health, but we are starting to see that progress stall, even slide backward in some countries. The missing piece is hearing from women and girls themselves. Now is the time to accelerate our efforts, and to do that we must put women at the center.

2. If we are to create truly sustainable, effective reproductive and maternal healthcare programs and policies for women and girls, they must be grounded in what matters most to those we are creating programs and policies for — until that happens, policies will not be enforced and services will go unused.

1. When women receive quality healthcare, they tell their sisters, daughters, friends and neighbors. Quality health services are born from involving those they are meant for; it’s not enough to encourage women and girls to seek care from trained midwives, health clinics or hospitals, the care they receive must meet their needs.

Convinced? Great! Join the movement and help us reach 1 million women and girls. Find out more at www.whatwomenwant.org.