Abbott celebrates International Women's Day 2014 on March 8. International Women's Day is a day to highlight the progress made in advancing the role of women around the world, and the opportunities and challenges of further empowering women and girls in the years ahead. The official United Nations theme for International Women's Day 2014 is "Equality for Women is Progress for All."

In addition to Abbott's extensive programs to advance women in the workplace, the company and its foundation, the Abbott Fund, also have a long history of investing in the health and well-being of women and girls in countries around the world. We work in partnership with leading nonprofit organizations to improve women's health by strengthening health systems, training healthcare providers and conducting health education, as well as opportunity for women through educational and economic development initiatives. Here are a few examples:

In Afghanistan, Abbott and the Abbott Fund have worked for nearly a decade with Direct Relief and the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) to empower women as healthcare providers. The partnership has trained more than 60 midwives and supported women-staffed clinics, providing critical care and health education for more than 1.5 million women and children.

In recognition of this groundbreaking work, AIL founder Sakena Yacoobi was recently presented with a Champion for Women’s Health Award by Direct Relief for her leadership and bravery in helping women in Afghanistan access healthcare. 

In Burma/Myanmar, the Abbott Fund helps advance health, education and economic opportunity for women and girls. Working together with the U.S. Secretary's International Fund for Women and Girls, the partnership strengthens the work of existing grassroots organizations to meet key community needs, including expanding health awareness, prevention and treatment; supporting education; providing economic opportunity and income generation for women; and helping women at risk of trafficking.  

In India, the Abbott Fund is working in partnership with the International Diabetes Federation and the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation to address gestational diabetes, a growing challenge for nearly 6 million women in India. The partnership is developing and testing a new model of care for the screening, diagnosis and management of gestational diabetes in Chennai. Based on learnings from this pilot program, the partnership will adapt the program for rollout in other low- and medium-income countries, with the goal of improving the health of women and newborns around the world.

Abbott and the Abbott Fund also support the Asian University for Women (AUW), which offers a rigorous liberal arts college education to more than 500 promising young women from Asia and the Middle East, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Vietnam and more. The Abbott Fund has provided scholarships for students to attend the University, and Abbott scientists, engineers and other experts have shared their expertise with students.