The East Africa Women’s Mentoring Network: Preparing the Next Generation of Sexual and Reproductive Health Leaders

  • By: Sarah McKee
  • Published Date: September 2017
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Although women are the primary users and providers of family planning commodities and services, globally they hold very few leadership, management, and governance positions in sexual and reproductive health, both in the private or public sectors. Competing demands between family and work responsibilities are among the unique barriers women face in achieving leadership positions in any field. Moreover, there are few role models for young women to emulate or to turn to for helping them navigate the difficult professional path towards a leadership position.

One of the goals of the USAID’s Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project is to improve and strengthen health system leadership, management and governance and to ensure that systems are able to sustain high-quality programs that meet the needs of the population, including those who have been traditionally excluded. Recognizing the value of mentoring to develop women leaders to help meet this goal, USAID’s LMG Project established a pilot online mentoring program known as the East Africa Women’s Mentoring Network (EAWMN). This program aimed to match aspiring sexual and reproductive health (SHR) to facilitate personal and professional development for both mentors and mentees. The program showed that a mix of virtual and in-person mentoring activities were effective in building leadership and management skills for SRH.