A team of psycho social workers from Action Contre la Faim (ACF)

How Four Organizations Use Storytelling and Data to Highlight Women’s Health and Global Progress


Over the past few days several organizations have focused on International Women’s Day by releasing reports on the progress of women and girls in a variety of sectors through interactive web sites, data, as well as maps. The following have stood out during the week.

Doctors Without Borders

Women’s health care is critical in many low- and middle-income countries largely because women as well as girls continue to die in numbers that are not only too high, but oftentimes unnecessary. For example, 800 women still die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The vast majority of these deaths are preventable. And, 13 percent of the 22 million unsafe abortions result in maternal deaths. To convey this and other health data, Doctors Without Borders created a robust, multimedia online project, Because Tomorrow Needs Herwhere health workers and patients alike share their life experiences either administering care in low-resource settings, or seeking quality care with the burden of heavy obstacles like transportation, costs, and proximity to a health facility.

Through eight interactive chapters with compelling first-person accounts Doctors Without Borders highlights important women’s health issues including maternal health, fistulas, unsafe abortions, and sexual violence among others.

“It is unconscionable that in many parts of the world today, women have no access to quality obstetric care, when providing it is not complicated,” said Séverine Caluwaerts, an MSF obstetrician/gynecologist. “High impact, yet low-cost interventions by trained health staff can have a dramatic impact on maternal mortality.”

Each of the chapters include both stories from health workers and patients as well as accompanying global data about women’s health as well as data from the work Doctors Without Borders does in the many countries in which it works.

Read the stories at womenshealth.msf.org.

No Ceilings 

Former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to journalists following her keynote address at the annual Women’s Empowerment Principles event, entitled, “Unlimited Potential: Business Partners for Gender Equality”. UN Photo/Evan Schneider
Former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to journalists following her keynote address at the annual Women’s Empowerment Principles event, entitled, “Unlimited Potential: Business Partners for Gender Equality”. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

To commemorate International Women’s Day, the Clinton Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released a collaborative report, No Ceilings: The Full Participation Report. Through a patchwork of interactive features, No Ceilings emphasizes 20 years of data focusing on women’s and girls’ global progress in a variety of sectors including health, employment, marriage, education, and physical and sexual violence. For example, the report reveals that 1 in 4 girls around the world are married before their 18th birthday and that India has 25 million child brides alone.

“We are taking a collective stand that full participation for women and girls anywhere and everywhere remains the unfinished business of the 21st century,” said Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton. “By knowing the facts and what has worked and hasn’t worked to advance gender equality, we can accelerate the pace of change for women and girls — both at home and around the world.”

For data enthusiasts the No Ceilings report is replete with not only data, but graphs and maps. In fact, the report contains 850,000 data points from 190 countries. Additionally, when you dig deeper into the interactive parts of the report you can also follow links to download and find additional data.

See the report at noceilings.org.

Saving Lives, Protecting Futures: Progress Report on the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health 2010-2015

Esther Lungu, First Lady of the Republic of Zambia, addresses the high-level event of Every Woman Every Child titled “Saving Lives, Protecting Futures”. Every Woman Every Child is a movement that mobilizes national and international action for the implementation of the September 2010 Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. UN Photo/Mark Garten
Esther Lungu, First Lady of the Republic of Zambia, addresses the high-level event of Every Woman Every Child titled “Saving Lives, Protecting Futures”. Every Woman Every Child is a movement that mobilizes national and international action for the implementation of the September 2010 Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. UN Photo/Mark Garten

More women’s, girl’s and health data points were outlined in Every Woman Every Child’s five-year progress report that was released this week. Every Woman Every Child is the movement that grew out of the United Nations’ Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health in 2010 because the progress towards MDGs 4, 5 and 6 was relatively slow when compared with the other global anti-poverty and health goals.

This report also draws on the universal data that maternal mortality is the lowest it has been in the last twenty years, for instance, and that mortality for children under the age of five is also decreasing. 6.4 million fewer children died in 2013 compared to 1990. 11 million more women are giving birth in a health facility than five years ago. And, 8.4 million women have greater access to family planning than in 2010.

Over the past five years, the Every Woman Every Child movement has garnered substantial political and global partnerships and has hit significant milestones along the way including helping usher in the Every Newborn Action Plan last year, Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) in 2012 and the Global Investment Framework for Women’s and Children’s Health (GIF) in 2013.

Read the report at everywomaneverychild.org (PDF).

Women in Politics 2015 Map 

www.ipu.org pdf publications wmnmap15_en.pdf

This newly released Women in Politics Map from the Inter-Parlimentary Union shows that women continue to lag behind politically the world over. This slow progress is causing global development to move at a snail’s pace or be halted altogether.

The data says that the percentage of women ministers has only increased by 3.5 points since 2005. The countries that saw the largest decreases between 2014 and 2015 were Peru, Malawi, Denmark, Belgium and Paraguay, with losses ranging from two to six women ministers, according to IPU.

“All progress is welcome. But our data is uncompromising in its truth. We are a long way from where the world needs to be on gender equality and women’s political participation,” said IPU President Saber Chowdhury. “This data should be a wake-up call to mobilize political will to change mindsets and take action that will spur progress on this issue.”

“If today’s leaders front-load gender equality, if they start now to make good on those 20-year-old promises, we can look forward to gender equality by 2030 at the latest,” said Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka calling on a renewed commitment to the Beijing Platform for Action that was established 20 years ago.

See the map at www.ipu.org/pdf/publications.

Feature photo: United Nations

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