Millicent Obaso – Kenya

Linked with The African Women’s Initiative AWI, and with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

She says: “My long-term goal is to save the lives of women. There is so much death in Africa, and so much disease — malaria and AIDS are just part of the problem. I want to work with the most vulnerable to improve their lives.”

Millicent Obaso works as a reproductive health officer in the Great Lakes region of Africa – she works in fourteen countries. She is married for the second time and has three children. But she says she has paid a price for her professional career – the cost was a painful divorce from her first husband which was not accepted at her first by her family. (Listen to her video on BBC).

Millicent Obaso - Kenya four.jpg

Millicent Obaso – Kenya

She works as Senior Officer for the African Women’s Initiative AWI, and for the American Red Cross. See also: the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Earlier this year, American Red Cross President Dr. Bernadine Healy appointed Millicent Obaso as special advisor on international women’s health issues.

With academic degrees in Social Anthropology and Sociology, Obaso worked on health projects for women for nearly 20 years in Africa prior to coming to Washington, D.C. She is originally from Kisumo in western Kenya and spent the last four years working for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as reproductive health coordinator in the Great Lakes region of Africa. She has also worked for Pathfinders International as the team leader and technical resident advisor on the Family Health Services Project supported by the U. S. Agency for International Development. For more than seven years, Obaso was involved in HIV/AIDS and family planning programs in east and southern Africa. Earlier in her career, she was executive director of the Family Planning Association of Kenya. (Read much more on red cross.org).

A native of Kenya, her professional life has been dedicated to improving the lives of women, children & families throughout Africa. From 1999-1997, she served as the Reproductive Health Co-ordinator for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for East Africa, The Horn of Africa, The Great Lakes Region of Africa and The Islands. 1995-1992, she worked for Pathfinder International in Swaziland as Country Resident Advisor and Chief of Party for Family Health Services Project funded by USAID. The Project was aimed at reducing high fertility rates, improving maternal and child health, increasing the prevalence of modern contraceptives, practice of child spacing and providing STD/HIV/AIDS education to men, women & youth in industrial and rural communities. From 1991-1990, served as Managing Director and a Partner for Population and Development Consultancy LTD. Regional Representative for Eastern and Southern Africa for the Enterprise Program, a worldwide family planning private sector project funded by USAID and contracted to John Snow, Inc. from 1987-1990. She served as Deputy Director and Research Evaluation Specialist for the Family Planning Private Sector Program from 1984-1987. A bi-lateral program between the Kenyan government and the United States government funded by USAID designed to promote family planning activities in the private sector. Executive Director for the Family Planning Association of Kenya from 1983-1984. She established and headed the Research and Evaluation Dept. of the Family Planning Association of Kenya from 1978-1993. (Read more on Global Health).

Q: Why are African women more vulnerable than African men?

Obaso: Because of widespread inequality. The differing response to HIV/AIDS is one example. When men are sick, they seek medical attention. Women are not considered a medical priority, so they do not go to a doctor. Men often do not tell their wives if they are HIV-positive, so the disease is quickly passed on. Polygamy is prevalent, and several wives and girlfriends can contract the disease from one man. The cultures and traditions of the environment oppress African women; they don’t speak their minds. They have less access to public services that could benefit them. Poverty affects women more than men, because men are usually the owners of the land and livestock — women are simply the workers. Men are also paid more in all areas of employment. Many men from rural areas now move to the cities to find work, leaving their wives and children behind. They might send some money back, but it cannot be much — even if a man wants to send a lot of money back, he often cannot, due to the high cost of living in the cities. (Read the whole interview by Christina Ward, on this USA redcross page).

links:

Family Health International, and its Aids Control Project;

CARE International Delegation to UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS;

stop aids;

Solar Cookers International;

CARE International;

UNICEF and AIDS.

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