As global health communicators, we intentionally use certain words and phrases to convey the value of work, share important learnings, engage our audiences, and advocate for change. Language plays an outsize role in shaping how our work is perceived, and the nature of the work itself. Language influences culture, shifts power dynamics, and drives social change.
The words we choose and the language we use have the power to affect the people and the world around us. Our words represent our beliefs, morals, prejudices, and principles—sometimes in ways we may not mean—and can shape an audience’s perceptions of us as well as the issues about which we speak and write. And, our failure or refusal to speak or write certain words—intentional or not—sends similar messages.
EngenderHealth’s commitment to gender equality takes many forms. Through our programs, we work around the world to reconstruct gender norms by incorporating gender-transformative approaches to explore, challenge, and improve social norms, beliefs, and practices that shape women’s, girls’, and young people’s sexual and reproductive health options and outcomes. When it comes to our internal operations, we are just as committed to gender equality.
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While significant progress has been made in recent years in preventing maternal and newborn deaths, the number is still much too high. Each year, over 290,000 women and almost 3 million newborns die and millions more are injured due to complications during pregnancy or childbirth. The vast majority of deaths, 94%, occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and nearly all these lives might be saved by timely, quality care.
For EngenderHealth, it is important to look at gender from an intersectionality lens and develop a deep understanding of where we work and who we work with to ensure our programs serve the individuals and communities who are hardest to reach in support of health equity.
Goal three of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” To achieve that goal, we must work to ensure everyone has access to high-quality, affordable, and effective healthcare services.
Too often, young people themselves are still seen as the main responsible stakeholders in achieving Meaningful Youth Participation (MYP). However, we, CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality and EngenderHealth, strongly believe it's the responsibility of each and every one of us.
At EngenderHealth, our global team is inspired by our mission, and we share a determination to have as great an impact through our work as possible. We also take a principled, values-driven approach to our policies, processes, and partnerships, and it was in that vein that we outlined our own principles regarding value for money.
When asked to characterize my work or leadership style, I have long said that I place emphasis on the how of the mission-driven work I do. The what, where, why, and who of the work are critically important, of course, but I have observed and felt that the how often gets left behind.
Curious about our sexual harassment policy? It’s on our website. How about our Do No Harm Framework and associated policies? Our whistle-blower policy? Ditto – on our website.