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Who Chronicle. 1984; 38(6):249-55.This article highlights the central features of the 5-Year Regional Plan of Action on Women in Health and Development, adopted by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in 1981. Although the Plan does not mandate specific actions, it encourages certain activities and establishes an annual reporting system concerning these activities. The Plan recognizes that women's health depends upon numerous factors outside of medicine, including women's employment, education, social status, and accepted roles, access to economic resources, and political power. The low status of women is reinforced by the sexual double standard that makes women responsible for the reproductive process yet denies them the right to control that process. The Plan advocates an incremental approach, in which projects 1st focus on priority areas and groups and then expand to provide more general benefits. Programs exclusively for women are not advocated; encouraged, instead, is the integration of women's health and development activities into the mainstream of general activities promoting health. Among the areas targeted for action are the collection of statistics on women's health, women's nutritional problems, environmental health, maternal-child health services, screening for breast and cervical cancer, and family planning . Community participation is proposed as a good vehicle for local action and an essential tool in the campaign for health for all. Efforts must be made to enlist women's support in identifying community needs, planning health actions, selecting appropriate resources and personnel, establishing and administering health services, and evaluating the results. Overall, the Plan provides a solid basis upon which health authorities of the Americas can build.
Development: Seeds of Change. 1984; 4:80-1.A strategy, developed by the Women's Programme of the Social Development Division of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to promote women's participation in the development process, is described. Although recommendations of international conferences invariably call for the inclusion of women in all levels of development planning, efforts to involve women in planning at the national level have met with little success. Even if women received sufficient training and education to qualify them as planners, their impact on development planning would be minimal due to deficiencies within the national planning process. Top planning units in most Asian and Pacific countries are composed of highly trained expatriots who lack an understanding of the needs of the population in general and of women in particular. The strategy developed by the Women's Programme is based on expanding the role of women in development planning at the local level and gradually sensitizing the planning hierarchy to women's needs and to women's abilities. This awareness building can be facilitated by developing links between government agencies and women's organizations. Application of this strategy revealed that it was much more difficult to build awareness among government officials and planners then to involve women in development at the local level. The planning process is constantly subject to personnel and policy changes because of changing political situations, and planners remain isolated from the public. At the community level, women's efforts to promote development are highly successful. Programs developed by women tend to benefit the entire community, and women's roles in these activities are highly visible. These successful efforts will contribute toward building an awareness of women's capacities to promote development. Conditions which are conducive to local level involvement of women include the political will to promote participation, the provision of appropriate training to prepare community members for participation, and the existence of an adequate infrastructure and sufficient resources to carry out programs.