Engaging parliamentarians as advocates for women's health: findings from Kenya and Namibia

Glob Public Health. 2009;4(3):271-83. doi: 10.1080/17441690902769651.


Members of parliament (MPs) are well placed to promote national health policies that improve women's access to quality health care, including HIV services. To catalyse political will and leadership, the International Centre for Research on Women, Centre for the Study of AIDS at the University of Pretoria, International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS and Realising Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, conducted the Parliamentarians for Women's Health project in select African countries. This paper focus on participatory community assessments - a methodology used by the project to improve MPs' understanding of women's health issues, particularly HIV/AIDS, and to increase their engagement with civil society in order to better represent women's health needs and concerns. In-depth interviews with eight MPs from Kenya and Namibia highlight the value of the assessments in identifying women's health problems and service gaps. The MPs reported that they undertook various activities after the assessments, including gathering more information about women's health from local communities, pushing for new parliamentary committees to be a platform for health issues, using the information from the assessments to inform policy, more carefully reviewing budget allocations and establishing relationships with civil society. Participatory methods can be used to meet political leaders' needs for information and communities' needs to influence policymaking that affects their lives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV-1
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Kenya
  • Leadership
  • Namibia
  • Policy Making
  • Politics*
  • Prejudice
  • Reproductive Rights
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Women's Health Services*
  • Women's Health*