Women’s economic empowerment is essential in creating gender equality, according to the United Nations. The problem is, many women don’t have the means to support themselves and their family, especially when a medical emergency arises.
Andrew Koolya, a graduate of the Save the Mothers Master of Public Health Leadership program and local government official in Kogadi district, is putting his degree to good use by establishing community groups of women across his district, to create a “maternity basket fund”.
The members of the group meet weekly and each one contributes an amount (usually less than a dollar) which goes into a fund that can be drawn from in the event of an emergency.
By saving money, the members are saving lives.
“During labour a lady named Peace, one of the groups members, got a complication that could not be handled at the nearby health facility.” Koolya said. ” Using the resources and networks of the women’s group maternity basket fund, members confidently mobilized for transport for Peace to access life-saving services where a C-Section was done; saving mother and baby.”
Already Koolya has been able to establish 26 community groups. The funds not only benefit members, but others can borrow from the group at a low interest rate. Women also contribute items for mothers that they no longer need.
It’s also a place where women can learn more about safe motherhood. Koolya says his Save the Mothers degree was not only valuable for his career advancement, but it gave him the tools and the trust from the community to find solutions for vulnerable women and babies.