Simavi’s work is grounded in our believe in the power of individual women and girls, and women and girls as a group. We focus on, and start with women and girls and put their needs and priorities at the centre of what we do. This helps to frame our interventions and ensure the steps we take address the challenges they are facing.
Investing in women and girls
In our programmes, we engage with women and girls to enhance their knowledge and understanding of their health rights, and support them with the life and leadership skills needed to claim their rights. We understand the importance for women and girls to have access to, and control over resources in order to make decisions about their health. By supporting women and girls to come together with their peers they can create social support systems and build networks; both of which are fundamental to support their empowerment and their ability to play a leadership role in community and political structures.
Supporting the economic and social empowerment of women and girls is key in contributing to the right to health and the reduction of poverty and inequality between men and women. Economic and social empowerment puts women in a stronger position and gives them the agency to make decisions that promote their own health and wellbeing, as well as that of their families.
Furthermore, it enables them to participate, together with men, in shaping society to influence development at different levels. Simavi promotes the ability of women and girls to succeed, advance economically and control their economic decisions. This will ensure that women have control over, and capacity to manage assets and resources, in order to pursue their right to a healthy life. And by creating the conditions for women to voice their priorities and participate in decision making we ensure structures and decision making reflect women’s priorities and rights.
Engaging with key stakeholders
The above does not, and cannot, happen in isolation. Social, cultural and religious norms and values that are re-enforced by leaders and upheld by communities, tend to restrict opportunities for women and girls, and limit them from making informed choices on their health, free from coercion. By engaging men and boys, and key community stakeholders (who are often men) we aim to create space for dialogue and reflection. We create the opportunity to challenge existing norms and values, and support women, men and community stakeholders to establish norms and practices that are gender-sensitive and inclusive.
By working with our implementing partners to engage public and private service providers, we strengthen the capacity of these actors to work on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). In this, we prioritise the inclusiveness of these services and the fact that services need to respond to the needs, rights and priorities of women and girls.
By increasing awareness and the skills to apply this knowledge, we support service providers in the provision of sustainable, gender-sensitive and inclusive services. When quality services that respond to their needs and priorities are in place, and women have the knowledge, skills and capacities to access services, we create a situation in which women make use of sustainable services.
Finally, we work with our implementing partners to influence the development, revision and implementation of policy and legislation that impacts women’s health and rights, in relation to SRHR and WASH. In this, we use a Rights-based Approach.
We support women and the communities they live in to engage with government stakeholders to voice their demands. By using advocacy and policy influencing at local, national and international levels we ensure women-friendly policies are in place and fully implemented. Simavi advocates strong political, and sufficient financial support at Dutch, national (local, in-country) and international levels, for both SRHR and WASH, to ensure women’s health rights are fulfilled and ultimately achieve a healthy life for all.