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IDW 2019: CCISD Celebrates its Projects that Strengthen Gender Equality

The 29th edition of the International Development Week, held from February 3 to 9, focuses on the theme “Together for Gender Equality” and is in line with Canada’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP). Making women and girls’ empowerment a core value since its very beginning, CCISD has assiduously integrated a gender equality strategy into all its projects. Constantly adapting itself, the organization continues to refine its strategies, more specifically in its three new projects: ASSK in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), PASSRELLE in Benin and PRISMA 2 in Haiti.

ASSK: Greater Equality of Choice through Community Dynamics

The Project to support “Access to Health Services in Kinshasa” (ASSK), implemented in consortium with the International Health Unit, University of Montreal Hospital Centre (CHUM-USI), is aimed at improving the health of women, children and adolescents living in the province of Kinshasa, in the DRC. Promoting an approach based on gender equality, this project relies on an innovative strategy which brings together partners that pursue distinct objectives and helps them work in synergy toward a common goal: equitable access to health services for all.

Thanks to its involvement, the project team achieves something that is almost unheard of in the DRC by boosting collaboration between: community actors (community health workers, social leaders, peer educators, etc.) health facilities and the Ministry of Health to the benefit of women and adolescent girls. “Educational talks given by community health workers make a really big difference because they’re a source of information and matter for debate. It’s a different relationship. At the health facility or at the hospital, not all questions are necessarily asked to health care providers”, says a nurse from the Monaco Health Centre. This type of strategy allows women and adolescent girls to access the information they need in order to be more independent when deciding on their own health.

PASSRELLE: More Equality through the Promotion of Adolescent Girls’ Rights

The Project for “Improving the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Adolescents in Benin” (PASSRELLE) empowers communities to transform the power relations and social norms that hinder the full development of girls. Through concrete actions, PASSRELLE supports adolescents’ rights to health and equality; information, participation and freedom of choice; confidentiality and dignity; as well as to a life free from violence and discrimination.

In addition, this initiative mobilizes the health system’s human resources and communities to engage them in the creation of an enabling environment for adolescent girls’ rights. Speaking about the need to protect the privacy and confidentiality of young people who would like to ask questions to health care workers, the Chief of Maternity Clinic in Sô-Ava says that the Project’s orientations provide an effective solution: “If we equip the health facilities with rooms for them, adolescents will come and they will be able to justify their visit to the health facility”.

PRISMA 2: Using Positive Masculinity to Increase Equality

The “Project for Integrated Management of Maternal and Child Health in Artibonite – Phase 2” (PRISMA 2) aims to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) services in Haiti. The Project uses an inclusive approach called “positive masculinity” that focuses on men empowerment and involvement rather than blame. In this strategy, men aren’t considered from the outset as the main cause of the difficulties women face, but rather as allies for increasing gender equality. The idea is not only to understand “what is wrong” but also to identify how to strengthen gender equality.

To do so, with the support of PRISMA 2, communities are mobilizing to better understand the issues related to gender equality: How is positive masculinity expressed and experienced in communities and what are its consequences? What are the advantages of questioning the relationship between adolescent girls and boys, between women and men? How can positive masculinity influence the health of adolescent girls and women, and more broadly the quality of life in communities? According to a member of the Savane-Carrée Dads’ Club, “when we’re not alone in making changes for equality, we feel stronger!”

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CCISD reiterates its involvement in gender equality through its projects. CCISD is committed to continuing to fight for a healthy and supportive environment for the health and rights of women and girls.