Advocating for women’s

(LWI) – Lutheran women and men from around the world are taking part in the 63rd session of the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), advocating for increased partnerships between governments and faith-based organizations to ensure social protection for women.

During the 11 to 22 March session in New York, The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and Church of Sweden jointly organized a side event to showcase innovative work that is being done by faith-based organizations and governments to ensure women’s access to health care and other public services. Moderator Dr Azza Karam from the United Nations Population Fund underscored the significant contribution that FBOs make in providing from 30 to 50 percent of social services offered to the most vulnerable populations across the globe.

Panelist Faustina Nillan, national director for women and children in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) highlighted the many services for women that are provided by the 24 hospitals and 148 primary health care facilities operated by the ELCT. Since 2014 these structures have offered sexual and reproductive health services that also raise awareness about overcoming harmful practices such as early marriage and female genital mutilation.

Overall, faith-based facilities in Tanzania provide more than 40 percent of health care service in Tanzania, particularly in the most remote rural areas.The deteriorating economy has compounded the problems that the government faces in dealing with diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis that have high mortality rates. Poverty is closely related to many of these diseases, with poor nutrition, poor housing and poor sanitation all contributing to poor health.

Another speaker on the panel was Dina Nasser, a health advisor to the LWF-run Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) in East Jerusalem and an expert on hospital infection control. She showcased the role that AVH plays to improve the well-being of Palestinian families, particularly of women, who benefit from high quality services for early detection and treatment of breast cancer. She stressed the importance of combining health care services with a more comprehensive rights-based approach, promoting health as a fundamental human right.

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