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Canada Announces Over $200m Investment in Gender Equality Projects Across Africa

By Edwin Musoni

The funds come days after the Women Deliver Conference in Kigali expressed the need to address unpaid care work. (Photo: Women Deliver)

Canada has announced over $200 million for 15 projects under the 'Strengthening Opportunities in Accessing Reproductive Services' (SheSOARS) initiative in more than 18 countries, with a focus on Africa.

These projects, according to the Canadian based International Development Research Centre (IDRC), are being implemented through global, multilateral, and Canadian civil society organisations and are part of Canada's 10-year Commitment to Global Health and Rights.

Canada also announced over $30 million for two new projects that support paid and unpaid care work, to unlock women's ability to participate more fully in the economy, in education, and in public life. They are part of the country's landmark $100-million commitment to support care work. The funds come days after the Women Deliver Conference in Kigali expressed the need to address unpaid care work which disproportionately affects women more than their male counterparts.

In one of the sessions held at Women Deliver Conference on balancing access to care and care responsibilities among women healthcare workers, Kathryn Toure, Regional Director, Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office IDRC had hinted on Canada releasing the funds and said that the investment would assist develop the care economy and foster the development of more compassionate communities.

She precisely pointed out that women in healthcare professions have dual caring obligations as both at work and at home.

"Women make up over 70 per cent of the world's human health resources in the form of health care professionals, putting them at a significant risk of getting diseases and straining their mental health due to their job in public and private care settings and of those only 25 per cent of global health leaders are in the workforce," Toure said. She added that the majority are volunteer healthcare workers, "meaning this is also an issue we need to deal with."

Speaking at the same event, the acting division manager, maternal, child and community health at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Hassan Sibomana discussed the importance of balancing access to care and care responsibilities among women healthcare workers. "Evidence shows that health systems are insufficiently responsive to women's specific health needs and yet, highly dependent on them. As providers of care, female health workers face multiple challenges as they seek to improve and sustain their mental and physical health and socioeconomic wellbeing," he noted.

Anis Farid, a research project manager with Women's Aid Organization in Malaysia said that their project started by first considering what it means to have shifted to endemicity or the endemic phase, which is often understood as a period where a disease is constantly present, but people choose to just live with it. "When we talk about the transition to endemicity, we see that a lot of governments made this decision based on health care indicators, such as vaccination rates, booster rates, infection rates, death rates, among other and we found that there was a significant gap because then the question arises, who does this leave behind? And we know the answer largely is women who have had to shoulder the disproportionate impact of the pandemic," she said.

She added that currently she is investigating the paid and unpaid care responsibilities of essential care workers in Malaysia to better understand the impact of the pandemic on them and how we can better support them moving forward.

Lisa Avery, an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba in Canada, presented insights into her ongoing projects related to female healthcare providers in Kenya.

Source: New Times


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