Women’s Leadership and Gender Equality in Global Health were the focus of events organized on the 14th of October 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland by the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute and Women in Global Health, with the patronage of Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). Gender equality is recognized as a crucial component for the success of health systems and societies, and is a key focus area for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Although in many countries women constitute over 75% of the health workforce, female representation at the top levels in global health is lagging, in particular when looking at political representation, academia and the private sector.
The day began with the Women’s Leadership in Global Health Roundtable, co-chaired by Ilona Kickbusch, Director of the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute and Roopa Dhatt, Director of Women in Global Health, which aimed to address the question of why there are still so few women in the highest leadership positions in global health, by identifying the specific challenges in the sector, and using the resources of Geneva to develop strategies and promote concrete actions to advance gender equality in global health for improved global health. In particular, the roundtable allowed to hear from different stakeholders what their experiences, policies, and ideas are to bring the issue of women’s leadership on the global health agenda. The group committed to fostering collective action in Geneva to provide a platform to strengthen the network of organizations engaged in increasing gender equality in global health, and put commitments into practice to effect change.
The roundtable discussion was followed by a panel ‘Gender Reality Check in Global Health’ where distinguished speakers shared their experiences and discussed the challenges, including cultural barriers, the emergence rollback of sexual reproductive health rights, engaging all genders, especially men and opportunities such as redefining what is a good leader, increasing gender disaggregated data, and considering gender as a cross-cutting factor across health and social challenges. They also provide insight into strategies used to change mindsets, good practices, and new approaches, while providing updates on their own commitments as Geneva Gender Champions. Examples include using a 40/60 rule that Nordic Countries such as Norway and Sweden use to strive for parity among panels and delegations, active recruitment of qualified female diplomats and increasing training opportunities for professional development, work-life balance policies, and striving for inclusiveness when addressing gender equality. This was followed by a by invitation Dinner discussion: “Women in Global Health – Moving Forward” where dialogue continued and further commitment was made to work toward values of gender equality in the broader global health policy making space.
A Gender Reality Check in Global Health, Public Event
Distinguished speakers included:
• Ambassador Hans Brattskar, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Norway to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva
• Ambassador Suraya Dalil, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations Of and other international organizations in Geneva
• Ambassador Marta Mauras Perez, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Chile to the United Nations Of ce and other international organizations in Geneva
• Director Maira Neira, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, World Health Organization
• Director Roopa Dhatt, Women in Global Health
• Ilona Kickbusch, Director Global Health Centre, the Graduate Institute
This event was supported by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.
By fostering collective action in Geneva and beyond, we are creating a platform to strengthen the network of people and organizations engaged in increasing gender equality in global health.
120 people engaged in person for this event on a Friday afternoon, with even more activity on social media.