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DEAR PATHFINDERS,

Mohamed Abou Nar, MBA, MSc., DBA. Chief of Party, OSRA Activity. Senior Country Director, Egypt

Each year, people across the globe celebrate World Contraception Day, a day designated to recognize the rights of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly if or when they want to have children. At Pathfinder, we know that World Contraception Day is about far more than contraception. It’s about strengthening health systems and working with communities to alleviate barriers to sexual and reproductive health, so that the goal of World Contraception Day can hold true.

In Egypt, we face numerous challenges and barriers to upholding the ideals of World Contraception Day. Persistent gender inequities place women and girls at significant economic, social, and physical disadvantage. And, the country is highly vulnerable to climate change, which disproportionately impacts women and girls by exacerbating existing gender inequalities and disrupting access to sexual and reproductive health care.

Pathfinder is actively working to mitigate these challenges, at the workplace, within communities, and through the country’s health system.

Two recently launched programs, funded by USAID, will proactively work to shift the tide of challenges facing women in the country by increasing their agency to make decisions about their futures. Pathfinder’s USAID-funded Women’s Economic and Social Empowerment Program will encourage women’s participation in the workforce, increase financial inclusion, and reduce the socio-economic impacts of violence against women. It will do so by generating demand for financial services; promoting tailored, market-based solutions to women’s economic empowerment; and strengthening gender-based violence prevention and response so that women become more economically and socially resilient. Through partnerships with the government of Egypt, private sector, and civil society organizations, the program will build upon and leverage existing national initiatives to maximize impact and ensure sustainability.

Our USAID-funded OSRA (Arabic for family) activity, which launched last month, will work to improve family health outcomes by reinforcing the national family planning and reproductive health program in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Population and other local stakeholders. This work will include increasing women’s and men’s uptake of family planning services, in both the private and public health sectors. It will also equip youth with the knowledge and skills necessary to make healthy life choices and support improved gender dynamics within communities to increase women’s agency.

In this issue of Pathways, you will also read about our program, Ma’an (meaning together), which has spent four years strengthening the skills of local service providers to respond to the reproductive health needs of young married women and first-time parents. Today, we are growing Ma’an by focusing on climate resilience. We are making health clinics “green” through approaches like adoption of solar panels, water-efficiency practices, recycling, and training health providers to address health risks posed by climate change.

In 2020, Egypt ranked:

For nearly 40 years, Pathfinder has partnered with the government and local partners to bring contraception, and, with it, hope and opportunity, to the doorsteps of Egypt’s hard-to-reach communities. We have done this work through local teams and in close partnership with local leaders who are deeply trusted by the communities they serve and carry out approaches and programs that are sustainable, lasting long beyond Pathfinder’s support.

Today, we are building on that legacy. Over the next five years, Pathfinder’s locally led programs will reach millions of Egyptians across the country, building sustainable approaches to increasing women’s agency and choice through a foundation of widespread access to sexual and reproductive health care, including contraceptive choice.

This work goes far beyond supporting the goals of World Contraception Day. Our programs in Egypt support Pathfinder’s larger goal of allowing all Egyptians to choose their own paths forward.

Yours,
Mohamed Abou Nar
Chief of Party, OSRA Activity
Senior Country Director, Egypt

 

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