Support for women’s health and autonomy

Red Cross of Benin
  Red Cross of Benin has increasingly explored new and innovative approaches to try and tackle highly complex social and development issues facing people in the country. One particular challenge that they have turned to new approaches for is the significant lack of health information available for women and girls in Benin and the struggles they face in achieving some measure of financial independence. Red Cross of Benin already supports a large number of women’s and mothers’ groups with first aid and other activities, but they wanted to try a new approach to address some of the systemic challenges facing the women. With the support of the Empress Shoken Fund, which is notably helping National Societies experiment with innovative approaches, they have begun to explore how to develop social and micro-entrepreneurship approaches with women’s groups. The various mothers’ clubs and women’s groups selected for the innovative trial are supported to develop social and micro-entrepreneurial ideas and plans including;
  • transforming primary products into marketable secondary products;
  • developing production methods to enable greater scale and efficiency of production;
  • the development of an e-commerce approach helping to open up new customers, distribution channels and to expand not just across national markets but hopefully international markets as well.
The increased engagement developed with these activities also allows the Red Cross to embed health activities and information with the groups. Emphasis is placed on improving women’s knowledge of pandemics, general health, and disease prevention to help promote better health while strengthening economic opportunities.

This approach is experimental to Red Cross of Benin and with that it carries new challenges to be addressed. However, the Red Cross believes it must try new approaches and to promote this kind of thinking across their National Society to be capable of meeting the many persistent as well as new challenges facing their communities.With the collaboration of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Microfinance, Red Cross of Benin hopes to strengthen the capacities of more than 5,000 women to facilitate their professional integration.