Banjarmasin, 24 Mar
Women20 3rd Meeting in Banjarmasin Call for Gender Equality in the Health Sector
This meeting in Banjarmasin will primarily focus on how the W20 can respond to health issues in order to promote recovery in various sectors. W20 is committed to leading advocacy that rebuilds better practices and a more equal and inclusive future, particularly in the health sector for women.
Banjarmasin, 24 March 2022. On March 23-24, 2022, the third Women20 (W20) meeting was held in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan. This two-day meeting resulted in a number of recommendations emphasizing the struggle for gender equality in the health sector, which could be pursued for governance commitments. This meeting also identified barriers to women's access to health care, with a focus on maternal, sexual, and reproductive health. Gender disparities were also discovered, particularly when responding to health issues related to Covid-19. The meeting in this South Kalimantan Province's capital city is also an adopt to one of the discussion points in the Indonesian Presidency at the G20 2022, which has the theme "Global Health Architecture."
In the opening session of the second panel on Tuesday (23/3), Bintang Puspayoga, Minister of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection of the Republic of Indonesia, said, "Women, with their role as mothers, are very important and strategic in handling the Covid-19 pandemic situation in the family. In this abnormal situation and condition, women are required to be able to maintain not only their own health but also the health of all members of their family. The Covid-19 virus continues to mutate over time, producing a new variant known as Omicron. Although this Omicron variant is not as virulent as its predecessor variant, but it still has a negative impact on certain groups, including the elderly, people with comorbidities, and other vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers”.
Bintang added that, access to health services nowadays are more difficult therefore impacted on the raising public concern about the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the Covid-19 pandemic impacted access to contraception and public participation in family planning programs. According to UNFPA (2021), the pandemic disrupts contraceptive use for an estimated 12 million women, resulting in nearly 1.4 million unintended pregnancies in 115 low- and middle-income countries in 2020.
Bintang also stated that access to health services has become difficult, raising public concern about the Covid-19 virus's spread. The COVID-19 pandemic has also reduced access to contraception and community participation in family planning programs. According to UNFPA (2021), the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted contraceptive use for approximately 12 million women, resulting in nearly 1.4 million unintended pregnancies in 115 low- and middle-income countries in 2020.
On the other hand, there is inequality in the household, where women are more likely to use family planning. Only 0.5% of men had a vasectomy in 2018, and only 1.24% of men used condoms to suspend pregnancy (Indonesian Health Profile, 2018). As a result, this pandemic condition has hampered women's access to reproductive health services, which can seriously harm women's reproductive health.
In line with this focus, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, Minister of Health of the Republic of Indonesia, revealed the Indonesian G20 Presidency's focus on global health architecture. He stated that every woman should have equal and balanced access to high-quality, low-cost health care. When Covid-19 occurs and disrupts access to health care, women face difficult socioeconomic conditions, which can even lead to discrimination.
"Hence, the Ministry of Health take a critical role in promoting the strengthening of the global health architecture by focusing on three priorities." The commitment to build global health through a global mobilization mechanism is the first step. The second commitment is to standardize global health protocol standards. Third, the commitment to conduct global health research, including pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response actions. Global vaccine research and expansion of vaccine manufacturing capacity."
Chair of Women20 Indonesia, hadriani Uli Silalahi, said “this meeting in Banjarmasin will primarily focus on how the W20 can respond to health issues in order to promote recovery in various sectors. W20 is committed to leading advocacy that rebuilds better practices and a more equal and inclusive future, particularly in the health sector for women”.
Uli also stated that there were three main points that had been explained by all of the participants. First, identify barriers to women's access to health care during the pandemic, with a focus on maternal and sexual and reproductive health. Second, gender-related gaps in the COVID-19 health response were identified. Third, follow-up recommendations as a form of leader commitment.
"Throughout this session, we heard how Covid-19 has had a negative impact on women and girls, especially in health issues. Women's mental health is also affected. Sexual and reproductive health care services are hit hard under the pressures of the pandemic. Access restrictions and the obligation to maintain social distance hinder access to health care related to Social, Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). In fact, based on WHO 2021 data, more than 800 women die every day globally due to pregnancy and childbirth." said Dian Siswarini, Co-Chair of W20 Indonesia.
As a result, Dian emphasized that the G20 leaders must take immediate action to increase investment in health services, particularly reproductive and sexual health. Investment in the development of telemedicine is also required to ensure that all women have access to and reach these health services. Finally, the gender pay gap must be eliminated, particularly in the Health and Health Services sector, where women outnumber men.
Adopting gender-sensitive policies can help Indonesia to reduce the digital gender gap and increase women's economic participation. In line with the G20 Presidential theme, W20 will lead advocacy initiatives to create a more inclusive, equal, and better Indonesia in the sectors of health and other aspects.
The third meeting in the W20 succession was held in a hybrid format, with approximately 1,000 participants, including 200 who attended offline in Banjarmasin. Participants were drawn from a wide range of institutions, including representatives from G20 member countries. There were 21 speakers, including women's experts and activists from different institutions.
In her presentation, Petra ten Hoope-Bender, Technical Adviser for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights UNFPA Office Geneva, stated, "There are several things that have changed along with the development of Covid-19. Women's awareness, including girls, of sexual and reproductive rights has greatly reduced. Services for sexual and reproductive health have also experienced a decline due to the number of service providers who have shifted to the Covid-19 emergency response. Transportation and mobility constraints also discourage people from seeking sexual, reproductive, pregnancy, and birth-related care."
Hence, health service providers, particularly those related to mental health, must be prioritized. According to Petra, the work environment, hustle culture, lack of health facilities, and lack of socialization in society are all contributing factors to the continued spread of COVID-19 virus infections.
Meanwhile, Meiwita Budiharsana, Professor of Public Health at the University of Indonesia, stated that the Covid-19 pandemic has raises the risk of domestic violence among Indonesian women. According to a survey of 866 rural women, the majority of them feel insecure and unsafe in their communities or even at home. This is getting worse because the pandemic progresses.
These insecurities appear to contribute to a wide range of global health issues, one of which is the higher mortality of pregnant women. Most of these fatal accidents could have been avoided, but cultural reformation on gender equality is extremely crucial. Significant budget monitoring and the role of the political sphere are also important.
Anda Waluyo Sapardan, Co-Founder of Sehati Indonesia, stated, "Indonesia's presidency at this year's G20 has a strong value proposition for health diplomacy by placing digital transformation as one of the current G20's priority topics. Indonesia recognizes the significance of shared prosperity that must be achieved; therefore, real roles and actions are required to improve the health response so that we can recover together."
He gives concrete examples, like as Sehati TeleCTG, which is one of the Indonesian technologies that is qualified to be used globally. The outcomes of health-sector technology development can strengthen Indonesia's position in supporting the development of a global health architecture, while also making a reasonable difference and contribution to the world by assisting in the reducing of maternal, neonatal, and intrauterine stunting.
As a host region, the Governor of South Kalimantan, H.Sahbirin Noor, also attended this opening session to welcome the delegates. The decision to hold the third W20 summit in Banjarmasin is directly related to the numerous initiatives taken by the province and local administrations to keep this city growing. In 2019, South Kalimantan was honored as the Best Coach of the Children's Forum by the Ministry of PPPA.
The City of Banjarmasin also won the High Level Parahita Ekapraya (APE) Award in 2021. This honor is granted to local governments, ministries/agencies, and organizations that are recognized to be dedicated to promoting and realizing gender equality, empowering women, protecting children, and addressing the needs of children. The City of Banjarmasin, however, was given the Middle-level Child Eligible City honor that same year.
The W20 agenda is held in phases at numerous Indonesian key tourist locations till October 2022. International Knowledge Partners, UN organizations, civil society groups, the epistemic community, governmental organizations, and the commercial sector are working together on the implementation of this event.
After the first and second meetings, which were held in Likupang, North Sulawesi in February 2022, and Batu East Java in March 2022, The next following W20 to W20 Summit side events will be held in Manokwari, West Papua, in May 2022, at Lake Toba, North Sumatera, in July 2022, and Denpasar, Bali, in September to October 2022.
The Women 20 (W20) is an official G20 engagement group established during the Turkish presidency in 2015. The objective is to ensure that the gender considerations are mainstreamed into G20 discussions and translate into the G20 Leaders Declaration as policies and commitments that foster gender equality and womens economic empowerment.
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