‘Health Equity and Power: Building Transnational Solidarities’ — Some Reflections

Written by: Malaika Aryee-Boi, Knowledge Management Assistant, AWDF

To commemorate the end of Women’s History Month, AWDF teamed up with Black Women Radicals for the “Health Equity and Power: Building Transnational Solidarities” webinar. This is a short reflection on two major themes and a call to action from the incredible conversation.

The first major theme that I took away from the conversation was the need for community efforts and movements to secure global health equity. Dr Ana Mocumbi, Head of the Non-communicable Diseases Division in Mozambique’s National Health Institute, reflected on the colonial origins of our healthcare systems in Africa which prioritise urban populations, curative instead of preventative methods, and diseases of the rich. These institutionalised biases disadvantage women disproportionately and women hold the power to challenge them. Dr. Mocumbi’s account of cardiovascular disease patients leading peer education and advocacy in their communities, as well as Prof. Caldwell’s stories of Brazilian women documenting racial and gender health disparities themselves were powerful examples to drive this point home — the change will come from the people.

Second, our fight for health equity needs to be a radical, black and intersectional feminist one. The institutions and systems that lead to uneven health outcomes go beyond just gender and just health. As the digital tribute highlighted, and Dr. Caldwell reiterated, African and African-descent women and gender expansive persons face several forms of violence which violate their rights to life and dignity. This inevitably impacts their health, too. We were reminded that achieving health equity is synonymous with ending patriarchy, racism, queer-phobia, ableism and all systems of oppression. The black Brazilian women activists Dr. Caldwell spotlighted articulated this holistic idea beautifully, drawing on indigenous ideas of “living well”.

Lastly, the persistent theme that was in itself a call to action was that of solidarity. Nana Brantuo opened the event with Nawal El Saadawi’s quote, “solidarity between women can be a powerful force of change…”, and that power was evident through all the discussions that followed. Jaimee Swift, Executive Director of Black Women Radicals, and Pontso Mafethe, Programmes Director at AWDF reflected on the impact that sharing stories of common health challenges had had on them while Dr. Mocumbi affirmed the value that transnational collaborations had brought to local initiatives. Dr. Caldwell re-emphasised the need for collective action across the Americas, Africa and Europe and for joint envisioning of the world we want to see.

You can find key statistics and women-led initiatives in this graphic summary. You can also find the continent-wide NCDs report here in English and French.

African Women’s Development Fund supports autonomous organisations on initiatives for transformation led by African women.

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