BY DAYO ADESULU
Merck Foundation has empowered infertile women with access to information, health and change of mindset that could enhance fruitfulness.
Dr Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother said: “One of our key campaign is ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ which is a strong movement that aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets.”
She stated this in Dubai while marking the International Women’s Day through their Merck More Than a Mother campaign.
Dr Kelej explained that the Foundation celebrate Women’s Day every single day! adding that it has been empowering women and girls through its programs and initiatives.
She decried that in many cultures in Africa, infertility is a huge stigma that women are solely blamed for it.
The women, according to her suffer discrimination, violence and are mistreatment due to their inability to bear children, noting that 50% of infertility cases are due to male infertility.
”Therefore, there is a huge need to create a culture shift to respect women whether they are mothers or not, encourage men to speak up about their infertility and support their wives during the treatment journey,” Dr Kelej said.
She said: “We are proud to have partnered with 18 African First Ladies who have become the Ambassadors of our unique and historic campaign “Merck more than a Mother” to empower infertile women and eliminate the stigma around infertility in their countries and across Africa.
”Moreover, Merck Foundation has mobilized and worked closely with Ministries of Health, Gender, Information and Education, Media, Art, Fashion, community leaders and scientists to empower infertile and childless women and break the stigma of infertility.
”Merck Foundation has worked with local singers, film-makers, media partners and fashion designers to be able to raise awareness and break the stigma of infertility.
”Through these initiatives, Merck Foundation wishes to sensitize our communities that Women are more than Just Mothers and Men are more than Just Fathers. Also, it takes both a man and a woman to have a child.
”Merck Foundation has produced and launched more than 20 songs with famous singers from Burundi, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Gambia to raise awareness about male infertility and to Break the Stigma around Infertility in Africa.
“It is an honour for us to have the First Lady of Burundi, H. E. DENISE NKURUNZIZA and The President of Liberia, H.E. George Weah do their own songs for our campaign. This shows their commitment towards our campaign and speaks volume about our work to empower childless women”.
Furthermore, Merck Foundation has also launched a children story in African countries. The story has been localized and launched in the elementary level school of many African Countries.
The storybook emphasizes on strong family values of love and respect from a young age which will reflect on eliminating the stigma of infertility and resulted in domestic violence against women in the future.
Moreover, Merck Foundation launched ‘Educating Linda’ in 2019 to help young girls who are unprivileged but brilliant to continue their education.
Dr Rasha Kelej explained, “The spirit of the project is to provide an opportunity to such girls to pursue their dreams and reach their potential through access to education.
”It has been seen that many girls drop out of school due to lack of basic necessities such as fees and uniform.
”Merck Foundation is supporting the education of some of the high performing girls by providing scholarship and grants that can cover school fees, school uniforms and other essentials including notebooks, pens and mathematical instruments, so they can reach their potential and pursue their dreams.”
Educating Linda program will be contributing to the future of these girls as part of ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign in Africa.
“This is how we celebrate Women’s Day every day. Empowering women and youth is part of Merck Foundation’s DNA!” concluded Dr Rasha Kelej.