Ifesinachi Sam-Emuwa is an ACTION fellow working with the ACTION secretariat on a one year Atlas Corps Fellowship and also an Alumni of the U.S State Department Professional Fellowship.
My experiences working as a global health advocate in both urban and rural communities in Africa has allowed me to see firsthand how the Global Fund is improving the lives of women and girls. Since its beginning in 2002, the Global Fund’s investments in fighting AIDS, TB and malaria promoted the advancement of the health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Now, the Global Fund aims to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of the ways they are working to achieve the SDGs is by investing in women and girls and providing a platform for equity and inclusiveness.
Women and girls are the most vulnerable when it comes to diseases such as HIV and experience higher rates of poverty. The Global Fund is committed to advancing gender equality and improving the lives of women and girls by investing in the integration of tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV services with reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health care.
Since its start in 2002, the Global Fund championed investment in women and girls; approximately 55-60% of Global Fund investments benefit women. The Global Fund’s program interventions and gender responsive funding model have reduced gender-related barriers to care and support for women and girls affected by TB, HIV, and malaria.
I once worked with a woman who was co-infected with HIV and TB. When she was initially diagnosed, she was devastated, feeling her whole world crumbled. However, after she started treatment and joined a support group that got funding from the Global Fund, her fears dissipated. At the support group she learned a lot from other women who shared stories of how they were overcoming their fears. She said she told herself that if all these people in this support group were positive and living their lives, then she could too. Today, she is a founder of a nonprofit that empowers women and girls with information on TB and HIV, which has benefited from the grants from Global Fund. Investments in treatment care and support by the Global Fund have helped improve health outcomes for women in Global Fund supported countries.
In February of this year, the Global Fund has laid out even more strategies on how to promote gender equality and address gender-related disparities using Strategic Actions to Advance Gender Equality (SAGE), a program to invest on women and girls’ health. This new program is expected to support policies, programs and partnerships addressing gender and age related disparities and meeting the needs of women and girls.
According to the World Health Organization, TB remains one of the leading causes of death for women of reproductive age. There is still a lot of work needed to improve the lives of women and girls and achieve the SDGs, which have re-emphasized empowering women and girls as a key to achieving of the global goals. With continued investment, a world with equitable access to health for all – including women and girls – seems increasingly possible.