- Merck Foundation CEO, Rasha Kelej, featured in the list of 100 Most Influential Africans, released by New African Magazine, for poignant “Merck More Than a Mother” Movement.
- The campaign has been empowering childless women across Africa and Asia.
09th November 2019: Merck Foundation CEO, Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother has been featured in the list of 100 Most Influential African 2019, released by New African Magazine. https://issuu.com/icpublications4/docs/na1219lr
Rasha Kelej has been recognized for her efforts to empower women in general and infertile women in particular through the “Merck More Than a Mother” campaign, which is a historic movement that aims to empower childless and infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets.
Rasha Kelej, who hails from Egypt, commenting on her inclusion, emphasized, “I am thrilled and honored to receive this recognition and to be included in this prestigious list among such an eminent group of people. As an African and an Egyptian woman, I strongly feel the need to empower girls and women, to be able to help them reach their true potential. Through our Merck Mother Than a Mother Campaign, we have always strived to bring a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility on all levels: By improving awareness, training local experts in the fields of fertility care and media, building advocacy in cooperation with African First Ladies and women leaders and by supporting childless women in starting their own small businesses, in addition to empowering girls in Education and women in STEM fields. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child.”
She added, “this recognition will motivate me to do more. It is my turn now to empower other women in my beautiful continent, I promise to use my influence and experience to support women and girls as much as I can.”
H.E. PROF. GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA, The First Lady of Malawi and Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother said, “Congratulations to Dr Rasha for this recognition, she deserves it. We will continue to support our people. Africa needs women like her who are able to mentor others”.
Hon. Sarah Opendi, Minister of Health of Uganda said, “I would like to congratulate our adored Sister and distinguished global leader, Dr. Rasha Kelej upon this well-deserved achievement. She has beyond description worked hard to get on this list; serving Africa and the African People with honor, dignity, diligence and distinction. You make us ALL PROUD, Dr. Rasha”.
The list includes 100 personalities from various African countries, and from various fields like political, economic, social and sports. It includes many other prominent personalities of Africa like,
H. E. NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, The President of Ghana was re-appointed as the Co-Chair of Sustainable Development Goals Advocate Group by UN Secretary General;
H.E. Paul Kagame, The President of Rwanda for his sheer dynamism and the impact his decisions have on other countries;
Mohamed ‘Mo’ Salah, Football Player from Egypt, for showcasing extra ordinary talent in the game. He has so many followers that he no longer belongs to Liverpool or for that matter, Egypt – he belongs to the world;
Alaa Salah, an activist from Sudan who is called ‘Lady Liberty’, one of the iconic symbols of Sudan Uprising;
Siya Kolisi, Captain of South African Rugby team came from a desperately poor beginning, his parents could not afford basic school fees, let alone his rugby kit. Fast forward 2019….he is the World Cup Champions Captain;
Eliud Kipchoge, from Kenya who has been crowned as Male Athlete of The Year by World Athletics;
Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General, United Nations is one of the most respected female figures in the world today for her determination to advance poverty eradication, gender equality and inclusive development in a peaceful world.
Thando Hopa, born with Albinism, this activist, model and professional lawyer from South Africa became a powerful voice and advocate for diversity and inclusion in the beauty and fashion industry, among others.
“Merck More Than a Mother” is a strong movement that aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets. This powerful campaign supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe and effective fertility care. It defines interventions to break the stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about infertility prevention, management and male infertility. In partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information, Education & Gender, academia, policymakers, International fertility societies, media and art, the initiative also provides training for fertility specialists and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.
With “Merck More than a mother”, we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility on all levels: By improving awareness, training local experts in the fields of fertility care and media, building advocacy in cooperation with African First Ladies and women leaders and by supporting childless women in starting their own small businesses. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child.
Merck Foundation provided for more than 140 candidates, three months to six months clinical and practical training for fertility specialists and embryologists in more than 35 countries across Africa and Asia such as: Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, CAR, Cote D’IVOIRE, DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malaysia, Liberia, Mali, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Niger, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, The Gambia, Togo, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia & Zimbabwe.
Merck Foundation is making history in many African countries where they never had fertility specialists or specialized fertility clinics before ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ intervention, to train the first fertility specialists such as; in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Niger, Chad, Guinea, Ethiopia and Uganda.
Merck Foundation launched new innovative initiatives to sensitize local communities about infertility prevention, male infertility with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and empowering infertile women as part of Merck more than a Mother COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAPAIGN, such as;
- Merck More than a Mother media recognition award and health media training
- Merck More than a Mother fashion award
- Merck More than a Mother film award
- Local songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change it
- Children storybook, localized for each country