HealthBridge works with partners world-wide to improve health and health equity through research, policy and action.

Gender Equality, Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn & Child Health

Reproductive health issues are inextricably linked throughout a person’s life: health during adolescence has an impact on a mother’s health during pregnancy, which subsequently affects the health of her children. 

However, in many parts of the world, women and men suffer from largely preventable reproductive diseases that have lifelong consequences, and mothers and newborns still die at alarming rates during pregnancy and birth. 

To improve reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH), both men and women need access to appropriate health care and health information, adequate nutrition, healthy self-care practices and healthy relationships throughout their lives.  

RMNCH cannot be addressed in isolation from gender. Gender stereotypes shape the division of labour and relations between men and women in families and society. In many parts of the world, women have less access to formal education and economic opportunities than men – resources that empower them to improve their own and their families’ health. Meanwhile, reproductive health is largely viewed as a women’s issue, with minimal information and services available for men. 

When engaged, men can positively influence maternal and child health by taking care of their own reproductive health, and by providing practical and emotional support to their wives and families. They can also play an important role in changing attitudes that restrict women’s access to health care and economic opportunities, and in reducing violence against women. 

HealthBridge works with local partners worldwide to:

  • Strengthen policies that protect RMNCH and promote gender equity among vulnerable groups; 
  • Engage men in RMNCH;
  • Increase access to essential health services among hard to reach groups.

Goal

The goal of the program is to improve gender equity and reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH).  

What we do

We work with local groups in low and middle-income countries. Currently, we are working in: 

  • Rural India – to increase access to maternal and child health services for women and children;
  • Vietnam – to strengthen policies that protect female domestic workers from exploitation. 

Impact

Our work has resulted in some key improvements to the health and well-being of women and children: 

  • In Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Pakistan and Nepal: ground-breaking research was conducted on the economic value of women’s unpaid domestic work, to increase the societal value of women;
  • In India: the High Court acknowledged the important contribution to society of women’s unpaid, household work, and called for legislative changes to adequately compensate housewives who are victims of motor vehicle collisions;  
  • In Vietnam: the government changed legislation to protect the rights of domestic workers, who are a vulnerable group of female migrant workers.   
  • In India: more mothers are receiving ante-natal check-ups and giving birth in health care facilities. More children are vaccinated and receiving antibiotics for pneumonia. 

In depth

Learn more about our work on maternal and child health in rural India: