Pioneers - the story of the Women in Global Health Germany, our first pilot chapter (#WghGER)

At this year’s World Health Summit, Women in Global Health hosted our third “Meet and Greet” with a special feature on the story of the Women in Global Health Germany Chapter, #WghGER. A story of the power of community, a group of esteemed, highly motivated women, led by Sabine Ludwig and Ilona Kickbush, started gathering in the Summer of 2017 together in Berlin - the latest bustling hub of Global Health in Europe - to pave the way for bringing local context to the global movement of Women in Global Health.

Changing the pace of the World Health Summit, we started this lunch time session with speed dating, creating an opportunity for summit participants to get to meet new people that had at least one thing in common - a shared interest in learning more about Women in Global Health. With a room of eager participants, we paired people off and rotated them through different conversations, as they answered:

  • What type of activities would you like to see Women in Global Health do?

  • What role might local chapters, at the country level, have to advance women’s leadership?

  • If you could have dinner with any woman, living or dead, who would it be and why?

The room was buzzing with so much energy, it was nearly impossible to stop the conversations. We then shared our story about WGH and our vision to advance gender equality in global health leadership. The Germany Chapter shared with the room their humbling beginnings as a group that started with small gatherings in Berlin in order to explore and further define what global health means in Germany, who are in the German global health community and most importantly, who are the women in global health in Germany? Through exploring such questions, they have focused their objective to improve female leadership in Global Health in Germany through establishing a list of 100 Women in Global Health in Germany by the end of November 2017, comprising a list of diverse, intergenerational, multi-sectoral women (from academia, research, development, the UN bodies, private sector, etc.). Some of their next steps include: Chapter meetings, a WGH Gala Dinner in January 2018, the Launch of the List of 100 Women in Global Health-Germany, summits, events, position papers and seeking sponsors for the initiative.

This session also raised interesting points about bridging the local context to global context and vice versa:

  • How can women network better to help set agendas with German institutions and international development aid?

  • How do women who traverse borders for their global careers - expats to implants who are connected to Germany - link up with the emerging group?

  • How can we do something concrete and not just talk? How can we contribute to getting more women into leadership positions and agenda-setting?

  • How do we coordinate and strengthen efforts at all levels?

  • How can we work more intersectoral (health, nutrition, social etc.) and across organisations (research, politics, NGO, private sector) to live an integrated approach?

  • Where will the next chapter be? - a Heroine of Health, Sreytouch Vong was asked if she will start something in Cambodia?

We congratulate the Women in Global Health Germany chapter for its leadership and being the pioneer, the pilot. To find out more, contact us at If you are interested in opening a local chapter please let us know, as plans evolve for more chapters in the next phase of Women in Global Health’s movement.

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