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The Difference Women’s Leadership Can Make: The African Medical Research Foundation

By Linda Basch

Now a week after the AMREF luncheon, I want to share why I’m still feeling so inspired.

At the luncheon we learned about AMREF’S impressive work in improving health care in East Africa -- through building the capacity of local people on the ground. We heard about training programs for health workers – delivered in the field often through innovative technology, about data management systems for HIV/AIDS patients, and targeted maternal and child health programs. Those programs say sustainability to me. Having worked in East Africa myself, I know how under-resourced the areas in which AMREF works are. And I also remember an earlier version of AMREF, when its focus was primarily on flying severely injured individuals from the bush to often life saving surgery. That was a time when it was led primarily by men. The leadership I saw at the luncheon included many women – from the Director General, Dr. Teguest Guerma, to Carol Jenkins and Lisa Meadowcroft, USA Board Chair and Executive Director, to the majority of guests and the luncheon leadership. I haven’t followed AMREF closely enough to know when it expanded its mission from rescue to building sustainability, or when it brought so many women into its leadership ranks – but hats off to AMREF on both counts. And hats off to the incredibly inspiring women it honored – Eve Ensler, Abby Disney, and Charlayne Hunter-Gault – all making a big difference in Africa. AMREF is certainly an organization I want to get to know better.

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