WEST AFRICA – The Global Fund has signed a new agreement with Fondation CHANEL to set up a US$1.5 million civil society-led fund to strengthen women’s and girls’ engagement in developing health policies, including Global Fund-related processes, in western and central Africa.

The new partnership entitled Voix EssentiELLES, which will run three years starting in Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Côte d’Ivoire, aims to address these challenges by supporting women’s and girls’ groups and organizations to increase their engagement in shaping public health programs and policies that address their needs.

It will serve as an important initiative to support women and girls to assume leadership positions in health policy and grants implementation processes with the goal of addressing inequalities that impact their health.

“Supporting communities and women and girls in particular to meaningfully contribute to policies and programs that affect their health and wellbeing is a key pillar of the Global Fund mission, it is also the best way to achieve greater impact,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund.

“We are tremendously grateful to Fondation CHANEL for working with us to expand this work in western and central Africa.”

This partnership builds on Global Fund’s efforts to ensure meaningful engagement of women and girls in key Global Fund decision-making forums and grant processes.

This includes learning from the experience with initiatives like the HER Voice Fund, a partnership launched in eastern and southern Africa with civil society and private sector partners to increase adolescent girls’ and young women’s participation in grants and policy processes.

“Evidence shows that supporting frontline organizations led by women and girls is key to advancing gender equality,” says Andrea d’Avack, President of Fondation CHANEL.

“As a foundation dedicated to promoting the role of women and girls as change agents in their communities around the world, we are excited to launch this new partnership with the Global Fund, working to amplify the work of grassroots organizations and give voice and stage to women and girls in Western and Central Africa.”

According to Global funds, historically, women and girls have been widely excluded from decision-making spaces and programs that affect their health and well-being.

This is especially so in francophone western and central Africa, which are regions characterized by persistent social, economic and political gender inequalities.

These factors contribute to poor health outcomes among women and girls in sexual health including HIV, maternal health, and children’s health. These challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.