mHealth projects must take into account social, cultural and gender norms in order to achieve successful implementations and improve the health and wellbeing of women and families.
Washington, DC (PRWEB) May 06, 2013
Recognizing the significant impact of gender inequity on women's health in low- and middle-income countries, the mHealth Alliance today released a Gender Analytical Framework to help mHealth implementers better understand the implications of gender issues for mobile health (mHealth).
"As with all health interventions, mHealth programs designed with consideration of users’ lives and the contexts in which they live will have a much greater chance of achieving significant impact," said Patricia Mechael, Executive Director of the mHealth Alliance and co-author of the framework. "mHealth projects – particularly in the case of reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health – must take into account social, cultural and gender norms in order to achieve successful implementations and improve the health and wellbeing of women and families."
Research shows that many women's health problems in low-income countries, such as maternal mortality and unintended pregnancies, are directly linked to gender inequity. Furthermore, while the digital divide continues to shrink, women in low-income countries do not have equal participation in this technological advancement. A woman living in a low-income country is 21% less likely to own a cell phone than a man. While women are commonly the beneficiaries of mHealth projects, they are rarely equal participants in the development of these interventions.
The framework builds on the mHealth Alliance’s vision of gender as key to accelerating progress toward goals related to reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH). It offers mHealth implementers an outline through which to understand the nuances of gender issues, as well as gaps related to gender.
VillageReach, an mHealth Alliance grant recipient, works to improve access to quality healthcare for underserved communities around the world. Insights from the organization’s mHealth projects helped inform the framework’s development.
“Having experienced first-hand the challenges associated with taking gender into account when designing mHealth programs, such as our toll-free maternal health hotline in Malawi, we were keenly aware of the need for global learning on this topic,” said Emily Bancroft, Program Director of VillageReach’s Health Systems Group. “The gender framework provides a concrete and powerful tool to help us analyze the implications of gender on our mHealth projects, and strengthen the design and implementation accordingly.”
Madhu Deshmukh, co-author of the framework and Director of Gender and RMNCH for the mHealth Alliance, will present the Gender Analytical Framework later this month at the Women Deliver conference in Malaysia.
View the full framework: Addressing Gender and Women’s Empowerment in mHealth for MNCH: An Analytical Framework
Senior Communications Officer, mHealth Alliance
About the mHealth Alliance: The mHealth Alliance champions the use of mobile technologies to improve health throughout the world. Working with diverse partners to integrate mHealth into multiple sectors, the Alliance serves as a convener for the mHealth community to overcome common challenges by sharing tools, knowledge, experience and lessons learned. The mHealth Alliance is hosted by the United Nations Foundation, and its core partners include the Rockefeller Foundation, Vodafone Foundation, UN Foundation, GSMA and Norad. For more information, visit http://www.mHealthAlliance.org.