Our work starts from five fundamental principles that we apply in all our programmes:
We analyse and address the inequalities, discriminatory practices and unjust power relations which are often at the heart of (health) systems failures, as well as the underlying causes preventing people from exercising their right to health.
Women and men have different health needs and face different health issues due to biological, psychological, cultural, and economic factors. They are also confronted with different barriers to access the health system and have different opportunities to contribute as health professionals. Women, who make up the majority of the health workforce, are still overrepresented in less paid cadres and have less decision-making power. Health financing policies, such as the implementation of out-of-pocket expenditures, continue to disproportionately affect women. And political, often male-dominated forces determine the extent of women’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. All this affects women’s rights and their ability to participate in society and reach their full potential.
It is our vision that all people – irrespective of their biological sex, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation – should be able to realise their indisputable right to health by having access to quality health services and being protected from health threats. That’s why we integrate a rights-based approach to gender in our work.
Ultimately, achieving universal health coverage (UHC) requires not simply addressing power imbalances that perpetuate inequalities, but also actively promoting systemic changes – political, economic and social – both in individual countries and globally.
Poorly performing health systems are an immediate reason why many people lack access to effective health services. A strong health system depends on the right economic, social and political conditions being in place. These may necessitate changes in decision-making and budgeting processes, new financing mechanisms, or different ways of involving stakeholders in the design, implementation and monitoring of policy.
Moreover, a strong health system is an important prerequisite for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Read more about this relation here.
Establishing equal partnerships with national CSOs is an important part of our advocacy approach. This we do through a process of dialogue, sharing knowledge on global policy debates and their significance for the country context, and finding common ground on particular policy issues. Working from this starting point, we consult stakeholders, analyse the political and policy environment, and review studies, national data and policies. We compare our findings with global policy agreements and identify areas where change is needed.
We envision our partnerships with national CSOs as a mutual learning process. Together, we develop joint advocacy messages to voice both globally and in individual countries under the leadership of national CSOs. Ultimately, partnership helps to create an open space in which national partners strengthen their capacity for advocacy and for disseminating messages based on an understanding of global issues and how they affect national policies. At the same time, this enables us to use national experiences to enrich our analysis of health-related global policies and political trends.
If true change is to come about, there needs to be a deliberate shift in the power balance in favour of those who are most affected. This also applies to our advocacy approach: we acknowledge that many civil-society opinions and views are either not heard or are overshadowed by those of large international CSOs.