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    Cheyenne Cook
    Keymaster

    The U.S President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) VectorLink project hosted a webinar on building capacity for gender integration in the fight against malaria.

    In case you were not able to attend the live session, the presentation has been made available for download here. Below, is a summary of the key take-aways and discussion points from the webinar.

    Thinking specifically about gender integration helps PMI VectorLink achieve its overall project goals. PMI VectorLink builds the capacity of country governments to use epidemiological, entomological, and coverage data to support the optimal deployment of vector control tools while promoting gender equity in all facets of planning and implementation. In short, the project aims to build country capacity to plan and implement gender sensitive, integrated vector control programs that can be sustained beyond the life of the project.

    There are very important gender considerations in fighting against malaria, specifically when it comes to women’s traditional roles in each country context. Women are disproportionately affected by malaria due to the roles they hold in many of the communities where PMI VectorLink works. Women are often the caregivers – taking care of sick children who have contracted malaria for example. Women are also the ones who do the majority of household chores, like fetching water and cleaning. Household decisions like using of bed nets, who sleeps where, or even accepting indoor residual spraying, are often made by the man of the household. This also extends to the women’s ability to care for her sick child who may have malaria – is she able to take her child to receive treatment services without the husband’s permission? Understanding these gender norms and taking them into consideration is critical to achieving program success.

    One lesson learned from the PMI VectorLink project is that implementing change and introducing gender considerations is no easy task. It requires the commitment and investment of key stakeholders, an enabling environment and supportive leadership in country. PMI VectorLink engages local governments and other counterparts to create sustainable change and demonstrate the value of integrating women into programming. PMI VectorLink has a concrete, actionable approach to integrating gender into programming that also aligns with other key technical areas such as youth and environmental compliance to create holistic programming that addresses all gaps.

    One major takeaway is the importance of including gender considerations at the very beginning stages of planning and implementation to ensure that women in country are engaged and active participants in project implementation – this ranges from having adequate restroom and washing facilities at operational sites, proper fitting personal protective equipment for IRS, and a safe working environment. The end goal is to build the capacity for countries to have sustainable gender considerations and gender sensitive practices in their programs beyond the life of the PMI VectorLink Project.

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