PAHO promotes first international meeting of female mayors for health, well-being and equity

Mayor intervenes at Mayors meeting in Bolivia

Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, May 17, 2024 (PAHO) - A first meeting of female mayors to share experiences on health, well-being, equity and women's leadership in local politics was held in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, from 16-17 May. The objective was to provide a space for reflection, debate and exchange among women mayors in an effort to advance the 2030 sustainable development agenda, especially as it relates to building healthy communities.

“As the closest government to people and communities, municipalities are an ideal space to promote health, wellbeing and achieve equity in health by addressing social determinants, working across sectors, and advocating for social participation. The leadership of female mayors provides a different way of making policy, essential for improving the health of the population, especially women, girls and adolescents in vulnerable situations,” Dr. Gerry Eijkemans, Director of the Department of Social and Environmental Determinants for Health Equity at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), said.

The event was organized by the Association of Female Councilors and Mayors of Bolivia (ACOBOL), with the support of PAHO and the Government of Canada in the context of the “Improved Health of Women and Adolescent Girls in Situations of Vulnerability” Project. The meeting, which comprised five panel discussions, follows a series of actions that highlight the leadership of women mayors in promoting health while recognizing challenges faced by women in positions of power, including gender-based political violence.

The meeting also sought to strengthen and position women's leadership and gender equality. “We need to have a society with equity and with women's political participation. We, as female mayors, consider ourselves fighters of history. We seek a society with equal social-, political and economic participation”, Sara Armella Ruedas, president of ACOBOL and Mayor of the Municipality of El Puente, Bolivia, said.

The themes discussed at the event represent a central axis of the Healthy Municipalities, Cities and Communities (HMCC) Movement of the Americas, a platform of more than 3,000 municipalities in the region where health initiatives are implemented at the local level.

The initiative, supported by PAHO, articulates spaces for dialogue to improve and protect the health of populations. The regional meeting of female mayors seeks to support political action focused on addressing the social determinants of health with particular attention to vulnerable groups: indigenous and afro-descendant populations, children, adolescents and women.