Dear Pathfinders and partners worldwide,
When we began this year, we never could have imagined where it would end. A global pandemic has transformed how we live and work and challenged us in immeasurable ways. While we mourn the losses that so many around the world continue to endure, we keep working toward a more promising future.
At Pathfinder, the COVID-19 pandemic has confirmed for us—time and again—that our work is mission critical. Advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, including ready access to modern contraception, empowers women and girls and makes communities more resilient. Our entire planet depends on empowered women and girls to drive health, a cleaner environment, peace, stability, and growth. We must not let this pandemic limit their potential and progress.
After all, the power of women’s leadership has never been more evident. Women leaders have played a formidable role in containing COVID-19—Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, may be the most famous—but Rosa Marlene Cuco, Mozambique’s National Director of Public Health, and Léonie Claudine Lougué, Burkina Faso’s Minister of Health, are great examples too. Women comprise 70 percent of the frontline health workforce and most of the caregivers in their communities—a testament to their contributions and a resounding call to invest in women and girls.
We know women can’t lead without sexual and reproductive health care that allows them to make key decisions throughout their lives. That’s why—in the midst of a global pandemic that has pivoted public health resources to stemming the control of COVID-19—we’ve made sure women and girls can still access critical services by integrating evidence-based public health measures into our work.
We’ve accomplished this by exercising one of our core values—courage—going where the need is greatest to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights. This courage is exhibited by Pathfinders like Godbless Mtega. For the past several months, Godbless has met clients at health facilities in Shinyanga, Tanzania, delivering critical information on sexual and reproductive health care, while moderating the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Godbless is one of more than 1,000 Pathfinders in Africa and South Asia who have worked closely with their communities and our government partners in innovating new ways to sustain sexual and reproductive health care during the pandemic.
In multiple countries, Pathfinders have helped to conduct remote trainings for health workers, made sure women can deliver their babies at health clinics during lockdowns, kept gender-based violence services running, reorganized services to make them safe, supported community health workers to conduct distanced consultations, and got the word out about sexual and reproductive health care and COVID-19.
Through all of this, health systems are becoming more resilient to present and future crises. At this uncertain time, our persistence and innovation equal more hope and opportunity for women and girls everywhere—a groundswell of hope and opportunity that will have ripple effects across communities and around the world.
I invite you to join us in courage and solidarity.
President & Chief Executive Officer