Women and girls are more likely to present with iron deficiencies because of their higher iron needs, have a higher prevalence of obesity at 15% compared with 11% for men, while millions of women are underweight. But a lack of progress on addressing the power imbalances behind women’s malnutrition for the stunted progress has meant that when previous programs have ended, women have been left in the same position without further control over their own nutrition needs.
“By focusing on the platform economy, we built on our existing research to focus on an area that we know is going to be really important for women, because women can potentially work in places where they might not otherwise be able to grow businesses,” explains Alexa Roscoe, who manages the initiative for the International Finance Corporation.
As a result of inadequate health facilities and a lack of skilled personnel, 814 women will die for every 100,000 live births in Nigeria, according to a 2015 estimate from the World Health Organization. Adepeju Jaiyeoba and Temie Giwa-Tubosun, two entrepreneurs who faced complications in their own pregnancies, are now leveraging technology to address the gaps in skills and resources that cost many new mothers their lives across the West African country.
Lack of a gender strategy in programs and gender-disaggregated data may also be contributing to the challenge of combating public health issues such as NCDs and TB. Action on Smoking and Health and the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease are both focused on these health problems, but they perform poorly on these two dimensions, based on the report. “We know that both smoking and TB have gendered dimensions to them. For smoking in particular this has been recognized by industry for decades — note their gender-targeted campaigns ‘you’ve come a long way, baby’ and the ‘Marlboro man.’ Failure to recognize the contribution of gender to these public health issues may well be adding to the challenge of combating them,” the co-author said.
1.6 million men have signed up online, including at least one man in every country of the world, and its “Impact Champions” include the presidents of Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, and Indonesia, among several other heads of state. The issue has also been the subject of 2 billion conversations on social media. But HeForShe is not without its critics. Many in the gender equality community say they would like to see the movement make more concrete demands of its male champions, and have called for civil society to play a greater role in developing and monitoring the movement.