To commemorate the International Women's Day, 8 March 2021, the World Health Organization and the Global Coalition of TB Activists conducted a webinar, #ChooseToChallenge: A Gender-Sensitive & Equitable Response to End TB.
The webinar brought together powerful women leaders from across the globe and highlighted the urgency needed to transform the TB response to be inclusive. Farahdiba Zalika Fatah (XDR-TB Survivor from Indonesia) set the tone for the event by sharing her painful story of stigma, abandonment and lack of support. She said “For all women out there, if you feel abandoned and belittled, never be discouraged, you are not alone. You will shine bright.”
The event was broadcasted simultaneously on both Zoom and YouTube. the webinar had over 125 participants on Zoom and an additional 92 viewers from YouTube and featured an all-women panel who answered questions posed by the moderators.
Tereza Kasaeva, (Director, WHO Global TB Programme) moderating session said “A TB response that is gender sensitive is imperative to tip the scale to achieve health for all and universal access to TB care.”
Blessina Kumar (CEO, Global Coalition of TB Activists) also a moderator highlighted the event’s importance, saying “TB affects women disproportionately. We need to constantly challenge and push forward. Today we have a choice to make.”
Tlaleng Mofokeng (UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Health), was the first panelist of the night and expounded on ensuring that no marginalised people are left behind. “We have to remove the oppressive systems and conditions that continue to marginalise individuals”
Shannon Hader, (Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS) tackled upon how the TB response should be more gender transformative. She answered the question saying “We have to look at the person holistically, if we truly want to be gender transformative.”
Amy Bloom, (Senior policy and strategy advisor, Infectious Diseases Division, USAID) talked about the importance of women in leadership positions in the TB response “Diversity in the response and making sure that women are in leadership positions, is key.”
Marijke Wijnroks, (Chief of Staff, Global Fund) highlighted Global Fund’s actions to ensure a gender transformative response in ending TB and caped off her segment stating. “We must not forget that rights based and gender responsive approaches are fundamental, not ‘nice-to have’, for countries to effectively respond to both TB epidemic and Covid crisis.”
Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director, Stop TB Partnership discussed how Stop TB Partnership promotes a gender-sensitive TB response across all levels. “Ultimately we have a common agenda to making this world a healthier place.”
Evaline Kibuchi, WHO Civil Society Taskforce highlighted the ground reality that women face when it comes to TB “Men are infected more by TB, but women suffer more”
Amrita Daftary, Assistant Professor, School of Global Health, York University ended the webinar with a fitting quote stating “A woman with TB is a woman first and a person living with TB second.”
GCTA thanks all our panelists and calls on civil society and community colleagues to join hands to make the gender transformative TB response a reality.
To view the full webinar session, click here.