The Cotton Made in Africa initiative has approved funding for a health outpost in rural Tanzania to mark the United Nations’ International Day of Action for Women’s Health on Saturday.

The project is the first to be launched under the umbrella of the new Cotton Made in Africa Community Cooperation Program. The program was set up a year ago on the group’s 10th anniversary.

Governments have recognized, in adopting the United Nations 2030 Agenda, that gender equality and the empowerment of women within society is crucial to sustainable development, the organization said, noting that in rural Africa in particular, women also play a major role in improving the living conditions of the whole family.

The Tanzanian town of Kasoli has about 16,000 inhabitants. The little health outpost currently has three beds for delivering babies, although there are more than 3,000 women of childbearing age in the town. With 52 births per month on average, neither the number of beds nor the quality of care is adequate, resulting in conditions that have seen four newborn babies dying every month on average.

The community took the initiative to extend the maternity unit, starting in 2014, but needs help to finish the project. This is where Cotton Made in Africa funds come in. They will be allocated from the program with a view to reducing the infant mortality rate, ensuring the supply of safe drinking water at the health outpost and improving the supply of medicines.

“The empowerment of the women in the rural regions where the CMIA cotton is grown is a main priority of our initiative,” said Tina Stridde, managing director of the Aid by Trade Foundation, “and it is very important for us to pursue this project, providing the health outpost with the necessary funds from the Community Cooperation Program and supporting the women in this specific situation.”

Cotton Made in Africa is an initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation that helps smallholder cotton farmers in Africa to improve their living conditions, reaching more than 650,000 smallholders in 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. CMIA also makes a significant contribution to environmental protection in the growing regions through methods often borrowed from organic farming.

The Community Cooperation Program in Kasoli is backed by the Tanzanian cotton company Alliance, a certified partner for CMIA cotton from Tanzania.

The CCCP funds will be allocated to projects in education, health, empowerment of women and nature conservation in the CMIA cotton growing regions. Applications for project funding come directly from the CMIA growing regions and can be submitted to the Aid by Trade Foundation as the body responsible for the Cotton Made in Africa initiative. An advisory board of nongovernmental organizations and company representatives decides on the allocation of funds and the projects submitted for funding.

More than 25 textile companies and fashion brands are currently partnering with CMIA.

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