Two EngenderHealth Staff Named Heroines of Health

The World Health Organization estimates that women provide essential health services for around 5 billion people worldwide. In 2017, Women in Global Health established the Heroines of Health Awards to honor and “amplify the exceptional work done by women, who are the majority of the health workforce.” This year, the award recognizes “exceptional women leaders in health driving change for safe maternity, safe abortion, and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)” with a “focus on inspirational women health workers from Africa.” And we are proud to announce that two women from EngenderHealth are honored as Heroines of Health this year—Meskerem Demessie Setegne and Konlobé Yvette Ouedraogo. Both women began their careers as midwives and have used their experiences to advance SRHR, prevent gender-based violence (GBV), and promote gender equality.

Ensuring Equitable Access to SRHR in Ethiopia

Meskerem Demessie Setegne is the project director for A Rights-Based Approach for Enhancing SRHR at EngenderHealth in Ethiopia. For the past ten years, Meskerem has been a passionate advocate for women’s health, focusing on sexual and reproductive health. She began her career as a midwife, witnessing firsthand the challenges women face in accessing quality healthcare services, particularly in rural areas. From there, she became a service provider caring for children, young people, and women in rural and urban settings. Now, as a project director for EngenderHealth in Ethiopia, she is leading efforts to improve SRHR for women, girls, and young people across the country. Through her current project, she is working with her team to increase access to quality healthcare services, family planning, safe abortion care services, and GBV care and support. 

Concurrently she works with youth and gender technical working groups at the Ministries of Health, Education, Women, and Social Affairs, where she provides technical assistance to ensure SRHR and gender are prioritized in policies and programs. She has also developed youth engagement programs that have helped to engage young people and increase awareness about SRHR meaningfully. Meskerem’s work continues to improve the lives of women, girls, and young people in Ethiopia, particularly those who are marginalized and underserved.

Enabling Women to Take Charge of Their Own Health in Burkina Faso

Konlobé Yvette Ouedraogo is the Gender-Based Violence Regional Advisor for West and Central Africa with EngenderHealth. Her journey began in 1997 as a nurse in Burkina Faso. After eight years as a nurse, she became a midwife. She spent 17 years working in maternity wards—eight of them in rural areas. During that time, she became head of a maternity unit, director of a gynecological-obstetric department, worked with the Ministry of Health, and partnered with various organizations and associations to increase access to SRH and GBV services. 

Through her work, she gained invaluable experience and is now an expert in gender, sexual, and reproductive health. She has designed and developed several training initiatives on sexual and reproductive health and GBV, which have reached over 400 healthcare workers in Burkina Faso. She also co-authored a guide on gender and reproductive health that she has since used to deliver training to 50 teachers. Yvette has spent 26 years improving the lives of women and children in Burkina Faso and throughout Africa. In her role at EngenderHealth, she continues positively impacting the lives of women and girls in Africa by working on GBV programs and partnerships. And her work doesn’t stop there—Yvette mentors two women, cultivating a future generation of women leaders in healthcare.

Congratulations and Thank You

We are so proud of the work that Meskerem and Yvette do. We are grateful for their tireless advocacy for all people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights—EngenderHealth and the world are better for it.

Congratulations to all the Heroines of Health awardees, and thank you for the work you do to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights and promote gender equality.

Join us in congratulating Yvette, Meskerem, and all the heroines this year on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. To see more from the award gala, check out the photos. And be moved as decision-makers listen to the voices of these unsung heroines