GAVI moves forward on gender equality

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With nine women and nine men, the independent review committee is the first GAVI committee to have a gender balance

IRC gender balance group

Members of the Independent Review Committee (IRC) at the end of their monitoring meeting in July 2011. Source: GAVI/2011.

Approved by the Board in June 2008, GAVI’s gender policy recognises that equal access is key to expanding immunisation coverage and says that fostering a gender-sensitive Secretariat is a prerequisite for effective implementation.

The policy commits to identifying equal numbers of qualified female and male candidates during recruitment and promotion processes.

“We are living what we preach,” Dr Bola Oyeledun, the Monitoring IRC chairwoman said in Geneva on the sidelines of a two-week Monitoring IRC meeting in July 2011.

Gender issues

The aim of the meeting was to monitor immunisation progress in GAVI-eligible countries.

Gender issues have increasingly come under the spotlight as global health partners aim to reach the last 20% of children in developing countries who still do not receive immunisation.

Exacerbated

Although no significant differences exist between boys and girls for immunisation coverage at a global level, existing evidence suggests that sex differentials in immunisation coverage exist in a range of contexts. These differentials are exacerbated in the hardest to reach populations.

We are living what we preach.

Dr Bola Oyeledun, Monitoring IRC chairwoman

A mother’s need for permission to visit a health centre from her husband or other significant family member, the impact of illiteracy on understanding and adopting safe practices, or even a focus on boys as future breadwinners, can all be obstacles to accessing immunisation.

Cascade of effects

“It is a cascade of effects,” Dr Oyeledun said.

Dr Oyeledun said getting to grips with such issues requires more hard information but said countries had been positive about the need for the gender data.

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