Merck Foundation helps thousands of infertile women start businesses

17Jul 2018
Beatrice Philemon
The Guardian
Merck Foundation helps thousands of infertile women start businesses

IN a bid to stop their suffering from traditional advocates who hold women accountable for failing to bear children, Merck Foundation has assisted 1,000 women in 12 African countries start income generating businesses.

Merck Foundation’s CEO, Dr Rasha Kelej. File photo

Merck Foundation’s CEO and President of Merck More Than A mother initiative, Dr Rasha Kelej said the women have been given grants and training to establish their own small businesses in -terms of retail shops, restaurants, bakeries, livestock keeping so that they can raise income to escape for poverty and male victimization.

Dr Kelej told a media recognition awards and Merck health media training held in Nairobi last week that the foundation has decided to empower infertile women do business after realizing that they face discrimination and stigma within their male dominated communities.

“Women are normally blamed for infertility and they suffer a lot from the community while others are chased away by their husbands hence end up living in abject poverty,” the Merck Foundation CEO argued.

She added, “We train them on how to do business that can transform their lives because they are stigmatized and discriminated against,” she noted.

The Merck Foundation chief further pointed out that currently the majority of women in the beneficiary countries have their lives changed because their businesses have helped them to be self reliant and respectable.

“Women are normally blamed for infertility, but you can’t leave men because infertility affects women and men equally,” Dr Kelej argued saying there is also medical solution to the problem if couples work together other than engaging in a blame game.

She called on journalists from different media organizations in African countries to create awareness about infertility among women and men to understand that both can suffer from the malfunction which can also be medically treated.

“Merck More Than A Mother” initiative aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and health and by changing mind-sets. This powerful initiative supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe and effective fertility care.

Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. Since 1668 it has stood for innovation, business success and responsible entrepreneurship. Merck Foundations was established in 2016 as a not for profit arm of Merck.