Virtual #HerHero Forum calls for women to prioritize family planning and their health despite COVID-19". — VNS Photo
SINGAPORE — German science company Bayer launched the #HerHero campaign in Singapore on Friday to support women in taking action to prioritise their health and take charge of their lives especially at a time when COVID-19 is posing an immediate threat to their health and ability to plan their families.
The launch was held at the #HerHero Virtual Forum on Health, Empowerment and Progress organised by Bayer in collaboration with the Population Council, Doctor Anywhere, UWS, and media partner Clozette.
At the forum, in which women influencers and representatives of key organisations in the Asia Pacific took part, the participants jointly pledged their commitment to be ‘HerHeroes’, or those who support and empower women in their communities to help them make informed choices.
They also called for wider public support for the pledge and give a voice to women’s health needs and empowerment.
The #HerHero virtual forum also marked the 60th anniversary of the contraceptive pill.
Despite the progress made in empowering women’s lives over the last 60 years, barriers still exist today, made worse by the current pandemic, the forum heard.
Many women world-wide are losing access to health and family planning services due to COVID-19 restrictions, and are putting off face-to-face medical consultations for seeking professional advice due to fear of contracting the virus.
The forum quoted a report by the UN saying that more than 47 million women could lose access to contraception, leading to 7 million unplanned pregnancies in the coming months.
These will have lifelong health and socio-economic implications for women and their families.
“As the world responds to the COVID-19 crisis, women’s reproductive health and rights must be carefully safeguarded,” Ashish Bajracharya, deputy director, country strategy & regional representative, South & East Asia, Population Council, said .
“We must continue to collaborate, innovate and work to ensure women have access to modern contraception and resources that enable them to make informed decisions about their futures.”
The #HerHero campaign celebrates the everyday heroes such as family, friends, pharmacists, who support women with a safe space to talk about such topics, and calls for the wider public to commit to also being ‘HerHero’ to the women in their networks.
“Our commitment to women’s health drives us to empower women to make informed decisions about their health and family planning, with our innovative contraceptive portfolio and digital health initiatives targeted at improving contraception education,” Catherine Donovan, head of medical affairs, Bayer Pharmaceuticals Division Asia Pacific, said.
“Our new #HerHero campaign, which also commemorates 60 years of the invention of the contraceptive pill, underscores our efforts to safeguard and prioritise women’s health and needs, even during the pandemic. By sparking conversations about these issues and celebrating the people that empower women each day, we hope to rally support for women in caring for their health.”
Bayer is constantly innovating to find new ways to engage everyday women in taking control of their lives.
Across the Asia Pacific, it has been collaborating with governments and organisations to introduce initiatives that promote greater contraception awareness and education. These include its partnerships with the BKKBN in Indonesia, POPCOM in the Philippines, the Department of Health’s Bureau of Reproductive Health in Thailand, and the Family Planning and Women’s Union and Government Office of Family Planning in Việt Nam.
With the goal of achieving its vision of ‘Health for all, Hunger for none’, the company will continue to invest in multi-stakeholder aid programmes with the ultimate goal of providing 100 million women in low- and middle-income countries with access to modern contraception by 2030. — VNS