Reaching men is an important component to all the work we've been doing to empower women.
— Honorable Miatta Barlay Kargbo,
Former Minister of Health and Sanitation, Sierra Leone
The Ministry of Health in Sierra Leone focused on lowering the number of maternal and infant mortalities through targeted efforts while also promoting programming for women’s empowerment. With an understanding that supporting the health of women bolsters the rest of the health system, Sierra Leone is working to engage different sectors of the population in quality services to promote health and strengthen their resilience.
The Resolve Award
The Resolve Award celebrates country-level, public sector leadership in driving innovations in reproductive health policy development, service delivery, and financing mechanisms. The Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health recognizes national governments for their leadership and for serving as the hub around which civil society, the private sector, donors, and so many others engage.
While most reproductive health programs are designed to reach and serve women, the Fambul Initiative Network for Equality (FINE) in Sierra Leone takes a different tactic; FINE works to educate men. FINE trains volunteer educators to teach men about the harmful effects of rape, gender-based violence, teen pregnancy, and female genital mutilation. FINE volunteers also encourage men to respect their wives’ childbearing preferences, to care for them throughout pregnancy and childbirth, and to make sure they give birth in a hospital. One of FINE’s most popular initiatives is called “husband school,” where men learn to treat women with greater respect. FINE has trained hundreds of volunteer educators, who in turn have reached some 10,000 tribal chiefs, husbands and religious leaders. FINE also partners with the Ministry of Health to arrange transport and lodging so that rural women can give birth in hospital. The organization also trains paralegal advocates to provide referrals, counseling and legal assistance to victims of rape and gender-based violence.
The results have been dramatic:
• Rape and gender-based violence have declined by 60%
• Maternal mortality has declined by more than 60%
• Hospital births have increased by 75%
• Contraceptive use has increased from 30% to 51%