In the Philippines, young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care, education and information is limited. This causes amongst others, high rates of teenage pregnancies, HIV cases and maternal deaths. Youth lack age-appropriate sexuality education and compassionate SRH care, creating a vicious cycle of poverty. COVID-19 has exacerbated these issues. Young people cannot leave their homes, and government workers are focused on COVID-19 response. This intensified lack of services could lead to a spike in unwanted pregnancies, pregnancy complications and maternal deaths. It is urgent to address the direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic on women and girls' health. For 2020 alone, the University of Philippines Population Institute estimated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on SRH outcomes in the Philippines as 12,000 additional intimate partner violence cases per month of COVID-19-related quarantine. As the pandemic continues to rage on in the Philippines, these risk factors are heightening.
Roots of Health (ROH) was started in 2009 by Susan Evangelista and her daughter, Amina Evangelista Swanepoel, with the aim to teach reproductive health to marginalised communities and to college, high school and university students, thereby improving health and the general quality of life in Palawan. The mission of ROH is to foster self-reliant women, young people and families to lead healthy reproductive lives by providing health education (e.g. education sessions for youth), and health services (e.g. check-ups and delivery service). ROH empowers girls and women to secure their rights to health and freedom from violence, and to support and protect the health and well-being of their families by reducing the incidence of maternal mortality and delaying or preventing unwanted pregnancy. ROH works with some of the most underserved communities in Puerto Princesa where women and girls live in marginalised circumstances, without access to any paid health services and difficult-to-access government services. Recognising its outstanding work, ROH was amongst the 23 Stars Impact Award Winners in 2016. In 2017 and 2018, ROH won the With and For Girls Award.
EMpower's seventh and final grant to ROH supports organisational strengthening in four interdependent areas of leadership and management of the organisation, which includes:
1. The leadership and management capacity of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT). The experience of dealing with the prolonged pandemic has brought to the fore how agile ROH has to be as an organization. They therefore wish to invest in the leadership enhancement of their SLT.
2. Strengthened capacity of the Human Resource Department to be better positioned to support the SLT and staff with their physical, mental and professional development.
3. Strengthened capacity of the Finance Department with improved software and finance management and a larger team.
4. Strengthened capacity of the Communications Department to continue with the great strides they have made with the look of their external communications and align their external communications to their fundraising strategy.
This gives greater agility to ROH to deal with the changing environment and prepare the organisation for their next phase of growth.
Primary Location: Puerto Princesa and Palawan, Philippines
Funded Since: 2013
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