Promoting Access to Health Services for Women in Mali

{Photo credit: Alpha Macky Kane}Photo credit: Alpha Macky Kane

On March 8, the USAID-funded Communications and Promotion of Health (Keneya Jemu Kan or KJK) project in Mali celebrated International Women’s Day to highlight both the challenges women face in exercising their right to health and opportunities to overcome systemic barriers that affect women’s health and wellbeing.

KJK, which aims to promote key health behaviors and increase the demand for and use of high-impact health services and commodities, wanted to use the day to honor the work of the women engaged in the project while promoting good health practices for all women in Mali. For the event, the project hosted a celebration of KJK women leaders and a participatory session on the Jigisigi communications platform on maternal health and the prevention of gender-based violence (GBV).

The celebration of KJK women leaders, attended by a crowd of nearly 50 people, was a joyous platform through which project staff and partners expressed their gratitude for women’s key contributions to KJK’s goals. Hosted in the courtyard of the project’s headquarters, the ceremony included a series of photo portraits of female KJK staff and collaborators, with testimonials from managers and staff.

This event was also an opportunity to present the Jigisigi communications approach to a large audience. Jigisigi is an innovative communications platform that works to expand access to and use of health services and promote healthy behavior among women and men of reproductive age. Team members shared tools, including the Jigisigi, fête de marriage (wedding celebration) pamphlet that is frequently distributed during town hall wedding ceremonies and provides health tips for couples.

[Participants during the ceremony. Photo credit: Alpha Macky Kane]Participants during the ceremony. Photo credit: Alpha Macky Kane

Keynote presenters from the KJK team highlighted the need for stronger communication around GBV awareness and prevention, warning signs during pregnancy, and postpartum family planning. The KJK technical advisor invited all participants to join her in a song and rhythmic dance about care during pregnancy to help them remember the key messages.

While women’s roles on the project and more broadly are widely recognized in Mali, more work is needed to build awareness of the importance of women’s health and leadership, especially in rural areas. The KJK team is helping to move this commitment forward.

[KJK’s MNCH technical advisor (center) performing the Jigisigi choreography. Photo credit: Alpha Macky Kane]KJK’s MNCH technical advisor (center) performing the Jigisigi choreography. Photo credit: Alpha Macky Kane