May 23, 2023 – Nearly a third of national delegations to this year’s World Health Assembly are headed by women, a significant improvement in an important measure of gender equity that for years has stalled at less than a quarter of female-led delegations .
The annual tally by Women in Global Health (WGH), an organization that campaigns for equal leadership and gender equity in global health, revealed a 9% increase in the number of women holding Chief Delegate positions at the World Health Assembly ( WHA76). , bringing their overall representation in decision-making to 32%.
“While we commend national governments that put women in charge and recognize this significant improvement in progress towards gender-equal leadership, the basic reality is that women represent an estimated 70% of the overall health workforce and up to 90% of frontline healthcare workers.” said Dr. Roopa Dhatt, Executive Director of Women in Global Health.
“For every woman working in health, there are still three men making top-down decisions about health priorities and the design and delivery of health programs.”
“We must recognize the invaluable experience that women bring to the table and recognize that, as the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrates its 75th anniversary, we cannot wait another 75 years to achieve gender parity in global health decision-making. . When women’s voices are left to the side, we all suffer from the loss of their experience in delivering health services.
“WHO has a responsibility to address the historical under-representation of women in WHA delegations,” says Dr. Roopa Dhatt, Executive Director and Co-Founder of WGH.
The WGH and its 49 chapters around the world are calling for a significant increase in female-led delegations to the 2024 World Health Assembly, targeting a representation target of 50%. Governments, as decision makers for their delegations, must be held accountable for the marginalization of women’s voices in leadership, especially in a sector where women are the face of health.
“The World Health Assembly serves as the highest standard-setting body in global health. Decisions made at the WHA shape global health priorities, making them crucial in life-or-death situations for women and girls,” says Dr. Dhatt.
“When men dominate decision-making roles, health systems often favor male perspectives, resulting in systems and services designed to prioritize men’s needs and higher-paying jobs and promotions going to men despite being male. the minority in the sector. This systemic bias holds women back in their careers and undermines the quality of health systems by disregarding their experience and professional knowledge.
The recent Women in Global Health report, “The State of Women and Leadership in Global Health,” investigates gender inequality in leadership and its impact on health system functionality and efficiency. He emphasizes that limited leadership prospects for women contribute to the current phenomenon of the Great Renunciation, which is undermining healthcare systems around the world.
Dr. Dhatt concludes: “Increasing opportunities for women in leadership, closing the gender pay gap, and improving working conditions through paid maternity leave and family-friendly policies are essential steps to address systemic health issues. ”.
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NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
Countries with female Chief Delegates: Albania, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cape Verde, Canada, Chile, Comoros, Cook Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Finland, Guyana, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama , Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Senegal, Seychelles, Slovenia, South Sudan, Sweden, East Timor, Uganda, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Vietnam, Zambia.
About Women in Global Health
Women in Global Health (WGH) is the fast-growing women-led movement calling for gender equity in global health. Although women make up 70% of the healthcare workforce and 90% of frontline healthcare professionals worldwide, they occupy only a quarter of leadership roles. Now with supporters in over 43 countries and 47 official chapters predominantly in low-income countries, Women in Global Health campaigns for equal representation for women in health leadership; equitable pay and an end to unpaid work for women health workers; protection and safe and decent work; and the prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. These are essential foundations for strong health systems, Universal Health Coverage and global health security.
Our events that draw attention to problems with relevant data, recommendations and proposed solutions on emerging issues and health policy architecture often attract Ministers, Ambassadors, Heads of multilateral organizations, health, development and gender leaders and practitioners, movement representatives youth groups and NGOs from all over the world.