The International Planned Parenthood Federation has a clear understanding of gender, sexuality, and family in many different parts of the world and helps to provide care that is culturally sensitive. The IPPF offices located in various parts of the world employ workers that are of the native culture, plus staff trained in other parts of the world (mainly the United States). By doing this, the center can most appropriately address the needs of the women and men who utilize their services without assuming they know the intricacies of a local culture when they truly do not. The act of bringing in healthcare workers to an underserved area and providing not only care, but healthcare training and human rights education can spark a change in the way the culture views women, children, gender, and sexuality. IPPF provides reproductive care to women that may not otherwise receive it, and they do it in a way that respects the local customs regarding pregnancy, abortion, STD care, and female genital care. These subjects may seem as if they have a basic standard of care across the globe, but in reality, each of these subjects is incredibly variable, not only from country to country, but even from town to town.
Along with basic healthcare services and healthcare provider training, IPPF also presents education to the public in a way that is informal, informative, and respectful of cultural norms. Where one country may be open to handing out pamphlets with condoms, other cultures may prefer private education sessions with just men, just women, or just families. For many, it is imperative to receive this education, but they do not want be seen as promiscuous or going outside of cultural norms by doing “unnatural” sexual activities. Privacy is also a key factor in IPPF’s activities. One of the major aspects of providing culturally sensitive care is maintaining strict privacy regarding patient’s health status and the services and education provided. Without a strict policy, it is likely that patients would not come to receive care, and the notion that women are not worthy of appropriate healthcare would continue. In addition to this notion, it would also decrease the chances that women who are affected by violence would report the incident and receive care.
Overall, I feel that the International Planned Parenthood Federation shows the world what it means to provide care that is sensitive to gender, sexuality, families, and cultures through its work promoting equal access to care for all and providing education that is available to people at every level.
Maggie Van Antwerp