Barbara is a philanthropist, civic leader and community volunteer dedicated to transforming the lives of women and girls and helping end gender-based violence worldwide. She was a founding member of WANDA, a California nonprofit that helps lift single mothers out of poverty. She currently serves on the Board of Regents at Georgetown University and the Board of Family and Children Services of Silicon Valley.
After decades of military rule, Myanmar is embracing dramatic reforms and rapid change, yet violence against women, particularly from intimate partners, remains hidden and pervasive.
Women in Myanmar experience many forms of physical and emotional violence, often over long periods. Lack of awareness and deep-rooted stigma mean most survivors do not seek support. Local private sector health clinics remain an untapped resource for identifying survivors of violence and providing essential support services. Yet little is known about the attitudes of health care providers in responding to cases of violence, or whether and how women would use such services in their communities.
This project aims to demonstrate that the private health sector can play a critical role in responding to gender-based violence in Myanmar.
With qualitative research on the perspectives of survivors of violence as the starting point, PSI is designing a community education and awareness program to challenge entrenched social norms and stigma. Through its extensive network of private franchise clinics – the Sun Quality Health Network – PSI will link women who experience violence to essential support services and build the capacity of local organizations, such as Akhaya Women which works for gender equality, to advocate for an end to violence in their communities.
Building the knowledge-base on women’s experiences of violence will inform policies and programs that can help end gender-based violence in Myanmar and globally.
Additionally, PSI’s local clinics currently provide a significant proportion of healthcare in Myanmar, creating an enormous opportunity to identify and engage survivors of violence and provide support services in the communities in which they live. Leveraging this network while increasing the capacity of local organizations to provide women with information and services has the potential to transform negative gender norms and tackle violence in all its forms. Furthermore, an effective model for integrating services for survivors into an existing franchise model can be shared with the thousands of other social franchise clinics across more than 30 countries in the PSI network alone.