As we all celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, we would especially like to bring attention to women’s right to health. A woman’s right to seek and receive proper health care. A woman’s right to her own body. A woman’s right to make her own decisions about sexual and reproductive matters. Women’s health, while recognized as a human rights issue, continues to be a real challenge particularly in the rural and marginalized areas where we work. Having a gender-sensitive approach to health care and understanding that women are disproportionately affected by poverty is crucial in this work.
In Kenya, 820,000 women aged 15 and older are living with HIV, according to a UNAIDS estimation. Africa in general continues to have the highest birth rate among adolescents, around 120 births per 1000 adolescent girls. A WHO study claims 53,000 women in Africa die of cervical cancer every year; it’s the second most common cancer among African women. This disease is often exacerbated by lack of access to screening and treatment especially in rural areas. Early detection is crucial for survival, and the same measures that are used for HIV prevention could also protect against cervical cancer.
Dandelion Africa’s free health clinic project brings under-privileged women services like family planning, education on sexual and reproductive rights, VCT, and cervical cancer screenings in hard-to-reach villages. We strive to also include women with disabilities, and women currently living with HIV who need access to reproductive health care. Together we can reach further in strengthening women’s right to health. Read more about our free health clinic project here.