Mehret Lamiso At Her Health Post Becha Kabele (2)



We’re delighted that REACHOUT members Sally Theobald and King Chikaphupha will be taking part in an innovative session at the Global Forum on Human Resources for Health in Dublin next week which will highlight the impact of gender on community health worker (CHW) programmes.

When: Thursday 16 November, 10.30-12.00

Where: Minerva


CHWs are a key workforce cadre encompassing millions of people around the world, yet we have paid limited attention to the gender dynamics of their role, and the impact of this on their own experience and their work with communities and families. Few policies address this issue directly; yet implementation on the ground is deeply gendered. This panel highlights the ways in which gender shapes CHWs’ experiences of decent work, rights and responsibilities across different geographical contexts and sectors and provides a forum for dialogue on the evidence to build and sustain gender transformative and equitable health systems and opportunities for action to support this pivotal cadre.

What will we do?

This panel will share practical challenges and experiences on the ways gender and power shape the recruitment, day-to-day work, retention, promotion and training of CHWs and ways to use gender analysis to transform gender norms within communities and families and build better people-centred, resilient and gender responsive health systems

We will hear from panellists from India who will present gendered experiences from the ASHA programme and implications for roles, designation, power and authority, incentives, career pathway, monitoring and supervision and programme implementation. Next, we move to Brazil for a critical analysis of how gender relations simultaneously empower female CHWs, and leave them vulnerable. In Malawi, where CHWs are both male and female, we will hear how gender power relationships shape this cadre’s interactions at multiple levels and how this is addressed in new approaches to supportive supervision. Next, we hear from the work of Sonke Gender Justice implementing the MenCare Global Fatherhood campaign in South Africa, on strategies to support CHWs to challenge the structural barriers underpinning limited male engagement in child care and health and well-being within households and communities. Finally, we hear from World Visions’ experience of instilling gender inclusive involvement in CHW programmes to address gender and structural barriers shaping early child development and female genital mutilation in different African contexts and supporting gender aware advocacy processes.

Who’s talking?

  • Gender Dimensions of the ASHA Programme: Programme Design, Evolution, and Implementation Truths, Asha George, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Power, Gender Relations and Heteronormative Norms in the Brazilian Community Health Worker Programme, João Nunes, Department of Politics, University of York, UK
  • Gender Roles and Community Health Workers in Malawi: Power and Partnership in Supervision Processes, King Chikaphupha, REACH Trust, Malawi
  • Working with CHWs to Engage Fathers Better in Health, Well-Being and Caring, Andre Lewaks, MenCare, Sonke Gender Justice, South Africa
  • Instilling a Gender Transformative Approach to National CHW Programmes: Addressing Male Involvement, Gender-Based Violence and Caregiving – Experiences from Lesotho, Ghana, Mauritania and Sudan, Polly Walker, World Vision, UK

Do come along and join us!

Photo credit: Mehret Lamiso At Her Health Post Becha Kabele, Ethiopia. Photo taken by Rosie Steege.

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