Merck Foundation chief executive: Respect women whether mothers or not

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There is a huge need to create a culture shift to respect women whether they are mothers or not, the chief executive of the Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany said.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, also the president of Merck More Than a Mother was speaking at this year’s International Women’s Day celebrations in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The day was marked through its Merck More Than a Mother campaign that aims to empower childless women through access to information, health and change of mindset, according to a statement.

To mark this year’s International Women’s Day, the Foundation also launched ‘Educating Linda’ program aimed to empower girls through education.

“We at Merck Foundation celebrate Women’s Day every single day! The Foundation has been empowering women and girls through its programs and initiatives. 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,” Kelej said.

She noted that in many cultures in Africa, infertility is a huge stigma and women are solely blamed for it.

“The women suffer discrimination, violence and are mistreated due to their inability to bear children although 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 expressed happiness to have partnered with 18 African First Ladies who have become Ambassadors of Merck More than a Mother campaign to empower infertile women and eliminate infertility stigma in their respective countries and across Africa.

Merck Foundation has mobilized and worked closely with Ministries of Health, Gender, Information and Education, Media, Art among others to empower infertile and childless women as well as break the infertility stigma.

The Foundation has also worked with local singers, film makers and media partners to be able to raise awareness and break infertility stigma.

Through these initiatives, Merck Foundation wishes to sensitize communities that women are more than just mothers and that men are more than just fathers.

Also that it takes both a man and woman to have a child.

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