By Dr. Rasha Kelej
IT is hard to imagine that in the 21st-century women are still being abused and subject to violence, for their inability to bear children. This is unacceptable and must be changed, and we will work hard with all our partners to create this culture shift and emphasize to everyone that women are more than just Mothers.
At Merck Foundation we do not mark women’s day, which only on the 8th of March every year, but we celebrate women every day, empowering women is in the spirit of what we do, it is a part of Merck Foundation’s DNA.
In October 2017, we launched Merck Foundation in Egypt with my friends, First Ladies of Chad, Niger, Guinea, Central African Republic and Chairperson of National Assembly of Namibia. They gracefully accepted to be ambassadors of ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ to empower infertile women in their countries.
In November 2017, we celebrated empowering African women Researchers in STEM through our fourth edition of UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit MARS 2017, an annual conference of MERCK STEM program for women.
In Jan 2018, we signed an MOU with the organization of African First ladies to mark Merck Foundation’s partnership with them to empower childless women and women cancer survivors and build healthcare capacity in their countries.
I also visited childless women in Uganda to celebrate their success and new lives of dignity and independence after Merck more than a Mother intervention, they finally found their purpose in life after many years of suffering from infertility stigma and the discrimination and abuse that comes with it.
We empower women, childless women who suffered the stigma of infertility all their lives, and we support them through ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign by improving their access to information, health, change of mindset and economic empowerment.
We empower women across Africa and developing countries, childless women through Merck More than a Mother. As part of this campaign, Merck Foundation established the small businesses for them so they can have a steady income and become independent and happier.
We also empower cancer women survivors through ‘Merck more than a Patient’, women like Margaret, Rose and Louise where we help to establish small businesses for them to reintegrate them into their societies.
This is achieved through ‘Merck Cancer Access Program’ and ‘Merck Capacity Advancement Program’, in these programs we focus mainly on women, and Youth as well. We strongly believe that the social and economic development of Africa depends on the empowerment of its women and youth, and we focus significantly on this target, to help to achieve the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs).
We at Merck Foundation, through all our key programs give special focus on supporting and giving equal opportunity to women to participate and benefit from those initiatives. We have consciously integrated women empowerment as part of our strategy to contribute to eliminating the gender gap in our areas of focus.
A s the CEO of Merck Foundation, I strongly believe in women empowerment on professional level and I am working on realizing our vision of advancing people’s lives through Science and technology with special focus on women and youth. And on the personal level; as a simple African woman from Egypt who became the CEO of a big foundation like Merck Foundation, this happened because someday, somewhere, someone empowered me, and now it’s my turn to empower other women.
With Merck Foundation, the sky is
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015