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Merck Foundation marks International Women's Day through their Merck More Than a Mother campaign

Merck Foundation's 'Merck More Than A Mother' aims to empower childless women through access to information, health and change of mindset; Educating Linda aims to empower girls through education.

Merck Foundation(http://www.Merck-Foundation.com), the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany marks the International Women's Day themed #EachforEqual through their Merck More Than a Mother campaign. To mark IWD this year, Merck Foundation has also launched "Educating Linda" program to empower girls through education.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother explained, "We at Merck Foundation celebrate Women's Day every single day! Merck Foundation has been empowering women and girls through its programs and initiatives. One of our key campaign is 'Merck More Than a Mother' which is a strong movement that aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets."

In many cultures in Africa, infertility is a huge stigma and women are solely blamed for it. The women suffer discrimination, violence and are mistreatment due to their inability to bear children, although 50% of infertility cases are due to male infertility. Therefore, there is a huge need to create a culture shift to respect women whether they are mothers or not, encourage men to speak up about their infertility and support their wives during the treatment journey.

"We are proud to have partnered with 18 African First Ladies who have become the Ambassadors of our unique and historic campaign "Merck more than a Mother" to empower infertile womenand eliminate the stigma around infertility in their countries and across Africa" added Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Moreover, Merck Foundation has mobilized and worked closely with Ministries of Health, Gender, Information and Education, Media, Art, Fashion, community leaders and scientists to empower infertile and childless women and break the stigma of infertility.

Merck Foundation has worked with local singers, film-makers, media partners and fashion designers to be able to raise awareness and break the stigma of infertility. Through these initiatives, Merck Foundation wishes to sensitize our communities that Women are more than Just Mothers and Men are more than Just Fathers. Also, it takes both a man and a woman to have a child.

Merck Foundation has produced and launched more than 20 songs with famous singers from Burundi, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Gambia to raise awareness about male infertility and to break the Stigma around Infertility in Africa.

Dr Rasha Kelej emphasized, "It is an honour for us to have the First Lady of Burundi, H. E. DENISE NKURUNZIZA and The President of Liberia, H.E. George Weah do their own songs for our campaign. This shows their commitment towards our campaign and speaks volume about our work to empower childless women".

Merck Foundation has also launched children story in African countries. The story has been localized and launched in the elementary level school of many African Countries. The storybook emphasizes on strong family values of love and respect from young age which will reflect on eliminating the stigma of infertility and resulted domestic violence against women in the future.

Moreover, Merck Foundation launched 'Educating Linda' in 2019 to help young girls who are unprivileged but brilliant to continue their education.

Dr. Rasha Kelej explained, "The spirit of the project is to provide an opportunity to such girls to pursue their dreams and reach their potential through access to education. It has been seen that many girls drop out of school due to lack of basic necessities such as fees and uniform. Merck Foundation is supporting education of some of the high performing girls by providing scholarship and grants that can cover school fees, school uniforms and other essentials including notebooks, pens and mathematical instruments, so they can reach their potential and pursue their dreams."

Educating Linda program will be contributing to the future of these girls as part of 'Merck More Than a Mother' campaign in Africa.

"This is how we celebrate Women's Day every day. Empowering women and youth is part of Merck Foundation's DNA!" concluded Dr. Rasha Kelej.


Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Merck Foundation.

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About 'Merck More Than a Mother' campaign
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.

The Ambassadors of "Merck More Than a Mother" are:

H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Botswana

H.E. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia

H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia

H.E DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of Burundi

H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana

H.E AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADO, The First Lady of Niger

H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic

H.E. CONDÉ DJENE, The First Lady of Guinea Conakry

H.E. AISHA BUHARI, The First Lady of Nigeria

H.E. HINDA DEBY ITNO, The First Lady of Chad

H.E. CLAR WEAH, The First Lady of Liberia

H.E FATIMA MAADA, The First Lady of Sierra Leone

H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOU-NGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo Brazzaville

H.E. PROFESSOR GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA, The First Lady of Malawi

H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia

H.E. SYLVIA BONGO ONDIMBA, The First Lady of Democratic Republic of Congo

H.E. KEÏTA AMINATA MAIGA, The First Lady of Mali

H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGWA, The First Lady of Zimbabwe

H.E. SYLVIA BONGO ONDIMBA, The First Lady of The Gabon

H.E. ISAURA FERRàO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique

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 CAMPAIGN, such as;

- 'Merck More than a Mother' Media Recognition Awards and Health Media Training - 'Merck More than a Mother' Fashion Awards - 'Merck More than a Mother' Film Awards - Local songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change it - Children storybook, localized for each country

About Educating Linda:
Educating Linda'is a project which has been launched to help young girls who are unprivileged but brilliant to continue their education. The spirit of the project is to provide an opportunity to such girls to pursue their dreams and reach their potential through access to education. It has been seen that many girls drop out of school due to lack of basic necessities such as fees and uniform. Merck Foundation will be supporting education of some of the highly performing girls by providing scholarship and grants that can cover school fees, school uniforms and other essentials including notebooks, pens and mathematical instruments, so they can reach their potential and pursue their dreams.

About Merck Foundation:
The Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website. Please visit www.merck-foundation.com to read more. To know more, reach out to our social media:Merck Foundation(www.Merck-Foundation.com),Facebook(bit.ly/347DsTd),Twitter(bit.ly/2REHwaK),Instagram(bit.ly/2t3E0fX),YouTube(bit.ly/2E05GVg) andFlicker(bit.ly/2RJjWtH).

About Merck:
Merck (https://www.Merck.com/) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Almost 52,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma.

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