First anniversary of the Women Leaders in Global Health Initiative (WLGHI): Accomplishments and less

A Letter to the Global Health Community

Dear Global Health Community,

In the aftermath of recent global events, the world has awakened a growing movement for the values of peace, equity and rights to counter the growing fear, division and hate. We have hope that people in our community will take steps in their spheres of influence to work with even more dedication to create equitable societies for all people, regardless of their gender and background, for achieving greater health and well being for all.

Now more than ever, Women in Global Health, through the Women Leaders in Global Health Initiative (WLGHI) is committed to doing our part by increasing the visibility and recognition of women’s contributions to global health and achieving gender equality in global health leadership. We have seen the power of convening and working collaboratively. This past year we had the privilege to achieve many first milestones- five top successes are showcased below.

We have convened multi-stakeholder, inter-generational dialogues across the globe and served the role of bringing together leaders across the life course, at every level of global health in conversations about furthering gender equality in global health leadership and the message is clear: people envision a world with greater equity regardless of one’s gender in every setting and are committed to working together. In the year to come, it is the lessons we have learned from the dialogues we have had that will shape our work moving forward for WLGHI:

Visibility

There are many great women leaders already present in this space who are just not visible or recognized. They have themselves observed and struggled with the challenges in attaining leadership positions and sought role models and peers. The challenges or barriers differ based on one’s power and privileges, including, but not limited to the where and how one works, who one is, and many other circumstances which individualize the experience. Regardless, in every situation women express the desire for guidance, mentors, opportunities, sponsorship, gender responsive settings and enabling environments.

Gender Blind and Women’s Empowerment

Overall there is a recognition that there is a gender gap in leadership and that men and women have different experiences in global health as a result of their gender. However, the understanding of the gap and its complexities are still low. Too often there is a focus on the empowerment of women part—leadership development and capacity building. While empowering women is an integral part of attaining gender equality, it is only part of the solution to the issue. Empowerment places the responsibility to achieve gender equality on the individual and solely on women instead of working to address the external barriers. These barriers include the set of economic, social, and political roles, responsibilities, rights, entitlements, obligations, and power relations associated with being female and male and the dynamics between and among men and women, boys and girls that result in gender inequality. It is problematic to ignore the barriers, the mindsets and deep rooted structures which create and sustain gender inequality.

Coordination and Gender Mainstreaming

There is limited coordination, including sharing of knowledge and practices, among stakeholders to address gender inequity. Achieving gender equality will take collaborative effort and the re-evaluation and adaptation of structures, systems and networks to produce multi-sectoral equality for all genders. The policies that do mention women's role are limited to specific areas, especial health issues such as maternal, neonatal and child health or sexual reproductive health and rights. There needs to be stronger political commitment to the advancement, recognition and remuneration of women in health overall and the importance of giving women voice and opportunities to be leaders at all levels of the process.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment are crucial to achieving a peaceful and sustainable world, Join Us!

Women in Global Health appreciates your support and we welcome any feedback, ideas you might have, or your direct participation in or activities in the future. There are also three ways to contribute to our growth and activities:

  1. Make a commitment to achieving Gender Equality in Global Health Leadership with us.

  2. You can support our efforts by donate to WGH via our PayPal. All donations will be used for Women in Global Health.

  3. Share your professional and personal journeys with us on social media by tagging #WomeninGH or @WomeninGH in your social media activities, and encourage your peers to do the same.

Sincerely,

Roopa Dhatt

Director

On Behalf of Women in Global Health

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