Gender Training Inspires Health Care Providers to Take Action

Research shows that gender inequalities and gender-based violence (GBV) have several negative health outcomes, including higher rates of maternal mortality, higher incidence of STIs including HIV, poorer birth outcomes, and poorer child health. Training health care providers on how to deliver more gender-sensitive care can improve reproductive, maternal, neonatal, and child health (RMNCH) outcomes. The Benin Private Sector Health Partnership Activity (PSHPA) trains private sector health providers on obstetric and neonatal emergency care, postabortion care, refocused antenatal care (ANC), family planning, vaccination, and malaria treatment as part of its mandate to improve the quality and accessibility of RMNCH services from the private sector.

“As soon as the training on gender-based violence was finished, we organized a feedback session on the lessons learned from the training for the rest of the staff. We tried to explain to the participants what is called gender, who is concerned by gender, why gender in important in the health sector, and mainly we made them understand that gender addresses both male and female. Another aspect that they acquired is the methodology of caring for GBV survivors which was totally unknown before this feedback session.” –Dr. Romuald Kanso Degnon

 

“During the debates, they pointed out that there are men who experience GBV and they almost never talk about that because of the Benin traditional culture that obliges men to stay courageous and never complain about sufferings. They suggested the creation of a national men’s institute to help them get out of these situations.” –Ezekiel Mardochee

Figure 1: Dr. Abdias Kwamé Adoufou, Community Health Office, Nikki, Borgou

PSHPA also provides tailored gender and youth sessions for private health agents in Paquet d’Interventions à Haut Impact (PIHI), or High Impact Intervention Package, training workshops and on-the-job training participants during post-training visits in targeted facilities to healthcare providers, including doctors, midwives, nurses, and nursing aides, through which they practiced and mastered various PIHI skills, such as emergency obstetric and neonatal care and post-abortion care, CPNR, vaccination, malaria prevention, diagnosis and PEC, and family planning in addition to gender-sensitive care.

These sessions help providers better understand the importance and impact of gender inequalities in health and allow them to create strategies for more equitable, and therefore higher quality, care. The gender training module also includes information on GBV fundamentals and how to provide gender-sensitive care to GBV survivors who seek help in private sector health facilities. Participants can not only apply what they learn in their everyday work, but also educate other providers and community members about the health effects of gender inequality and GBV.

Two providers from the Luc au Jourdain medical center in N’Daly, Dr. Romuald Kanso Degnon and Ezekiel Mardochee, a nurse and health action inspector, participated in a PSHPA gender and youth training session in Parakou on September 2022. After the training, the clinic owner asked them to conduct a gender learning session for clinic employees to strengthen their understanding of gender and gender-sensitive care skills. He felt these discussions and skills were critical to strengthen services at the facility. During the session, the clinic staff actively engaged and grappled with complex issues related to gender differences and norms that affect health outcomes.

“I am a doctor. I work in the community health office of the Commune of Nikki (Department of Borgou, Benin). I was amazed by the presentation on gender-based violence (GBV) during the Gender and Youth session that I followed thanks to the PSHPA project who offered it to us. This presentation enlightened me on the aspects of GBV encountered every day in the environment where I work. I tried as much as possible to raise awareness among the population, but without really a concrete result.”

 

“In addition, my wife has been a victim of GBV several times. It is in view of all this that I take the opportunity of this training to ask for help to become a gender expert in order to bring as much as I can my competence for the resolution of the problem of GBV. . .  GBV has become a public health problem . . . and gender expertise will be an advantage for me for health promotion efforts.” –Dr. Abdias Kwamé Adoufou

They also discussed GBV and caring for GBV survivors, something most had never talked about before. Degnon and Mardochee feel confident this learning session will contribute to better and more sensitive RMNCH services at their clinic and greater awareness and treatment of GBV survivors.

The topic of GBV always generates serious debates among the providers in gender training sessions. They observe that women in Benin are often subjected to GBV and that the government is establishing new institutions, laws, and strategies to address GBV and help survivors through gender-sensitive care. Dr. Abdias Kwamé Adoufou, a participant in the December 2022, gender training in N’Daly, Borgou Department, felt inspired to join the fight against GBV. Dr. Kwamé works in a rural community where he noted that GBV against women is common and is a public health concern. He recognized that addressing it would require additional GBV knowledge and expertise, so he decided to become a gender and GBV advocate in his community and asked PSHPA for support. When he completed the training, Dr. Kwamé began the process of establishing an NGO aimed at educating and communicating with his community about GBV and other public health issues. His goals are to change people’s behavior and improve women’s physical and mental health. Dr. Kwamé affirmed that he will use his knowledge of GBV to provide higher quality health care and aims to one day be a gender focal point in the Borgou region.

PSHPA has trained approximately 1900 healthcare providers over the life of the Activity. Many providers have continued to share their knowledge gained and expand on PSHPA’s work in their communities. To ensure that healthcare providers can continue to address GBV in their communities, the Activity has also developed a GBV e-learning resource for providers to refer to and utilize beyond their initial training and the life of the Activity.

Antonine Bibi

Gender and Youth Specialist, Benin

Antonine Rose Bibi is a Gender and Youth Specialist for the USAID Private Sector Health Partnership Activity (PSHPA) in Benin. She leads data collection and co-authors gender and youth assessments, supports the project team in implementing and monitoring gender strategy, and designs and conducts gender and youth training for private sector providers and stakeholders. She has 12 years of experience providing support to public educational institutions to lessen gender disparities in their interventions and integrate minorities into the educational system. She holds an MPA from the University of Delaware.

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