Women’s Dignity Project

Health and Well-Being
Women’s Dignity Project

Geography: Africa

Founded: 2001


PO Box 79402
Dar Es Salaam

Women’s Dignity was formally established in 2001 in Dar es Salaam. Several years earlier a few doctors in Africa had begun performing surgery to ‘repair’ fistula for a small number of women lucky enough to reach their hospitals. The founding vision of Women’s Dignity, however, was that fistula should not only be treated but, more importantly, should be prevented in the first place. Women’s Dignity thus became the first programme in Africa to initiate efforts to prevent obstetric fistula. Since then, Women’s Dignity has increasingly expanded its focus to emphasise the core issues of inequity that underlie the ill-health of the poor.

The first phase of Women’s Dignity’s work (2001-2004) highlighted the problem of obstetric fistula and put fistula squarely onto the health agenda. The second phase (2005-2007) deepened the public’s understanding of the ‘pathways of vulnerability’ to fistula and the factors responsible for health inequalities. In its third phase (2008-2010), Women’s Dignity has sought to more actively highlight the inequities in health services that limit access by the poor, particularly marginalised girls and women. During these years, we have actively increased our engagement with media partnerships as avenues for informing the public and holding government accountable.

Women’s Dignity works to enable citizens -- particularly marginalised girls and women -- to realize their basic rights to health. Women’s Dignity provides citizens with information and education about health care with the aim of empowering these citizens to understand and promote their rights, to influence equitable policy development and allocation of resources, and to monitor for accountability of policies, programmes and services to vulnerable populations.  We hold a particular commitment to the prevention of obstetric fistula and to promoting the dignity and rights of girls and women who have lived or are living with fistula.