”Valuing the work of women is key”
Dr. Bintou Coulibaly is from Mali and has been a physician since 2014. After completing her medical training, Dr. Coulibaly developed an interest in community health, and more specifically child health, which enabled her to take on a position in a referral health centre for malnourished children. The work was inspiring but did not provide any opportunities to be in direct contact with the community and conduct more prevention activities. So, in March 2017, she applied to become a district advisor with the Mali Red Cross in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross, which was when she joined the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.
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As a district advisor, Dr. Coulibaly was charged with supporting 73 community health workers in improving maternal, newborn and child health. She was quickly promoted to Zone Coordinator for the project based on her performance, which ranked her highest among all 16 district advisors on the project.

”I was the only female Zone Coordinator.”

– Dr. Bintou Coulibaly, Canada

As a coordinator, Dr. Coulibaly had more responsibilities (coordination and technical monitoring), as well as 7 district advisors, 181 community health workers (64% female), and 1,039 Mali Red Cross volunteers (33% female) under her supervision in her area of operations. This high level of female representation was achieved through awareness and advocacy work with Ministry of Health officials and beneficiary communities.

In 2017, Dr. Coulibaly represented the Mali Red Cross at the Women Deliver conference in Canada. She made a presentation during a key event to share the important contributions of female community health workers to the populations that they work with. Two yaers later, Dr. Coulibaly was promoted for the second time to National Quality Assurance Technical Assistant in Bamako and was then appointed as the technical reference person for health for the Canadian Red Cross in Mali in 2020. Her advancement within the organization is a testament to her commitment and dedication to the Movement’s values and to improving the lives of the most marginalized, who in Mali are very often women and children. Her current role puts her in regular dialogue with the Mali Ministry of Health, which she uses as an opportunity to defend women’s rights to access quality health care and continue to advocate for recruiting female community health workers.

” I dream of a world where women can speak, act, and decide for themselves without men doing it for them, an equitable world where all girls and women enjoy the same rights as boys and men, in both community and urban settings.”

– Dr. Bintou Coulibaly, Canada

She also believes that our RCRC Movement could benefit greatly from having more women in leadership positions. ”Women have a good understanding of public health issues, partly because they experience them, and partly because they understand the problems that affect the mother-child relationship better than men do. Women experience these challenges on a daily basis. They are able to propose and implement viable approaches to address mother-child issues. A female leader at the Red Cross is in a better position to help it fulfill its mission”, she says. 

However, Dr. Coulibaly is well aware that for women, the path to a leadership position is paved with challenges. Women often face “prejudice due to their femininity and societal norms that place women at a non-decision-making level, [not to mention] abuse, sexism, and often harassment.”

As she puts it so eloquently,

” We need women in all decision-making bodies, from the lowest to the highest rungs of the ladder, so that women are involved in the decisions that affect them.”

– Dr. Bintou Coulibaly, Canada

To help us move in that direction, Dr. Coulibaly believes that ”encouraging women to build their self-confidence, supporting them and encouraging them to become leaders, and valuing the work of women is key”. This could change our Movement and our world!

Dr. Coulibaly is married to a physician and is a mom of three, with two sons and one daughter.

Dr. Bintou Coulibaly

Canada, 2017

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Over 75 countries have established quota policies to ensure more women have leadership roles within domestic politics.

– O’Brien and Rickne, 2016

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