Women in Global Health at the 142nd WHO Executive Board meeting, January 2018

Women in Global Health, attended the 142nd WHO Executive Board meeting from January 22 - 27, 2018. Key topics included WHO’s 13th Global Programme of Work (GPW13). Women in Global Health proposed a series of strategies to achieve gender parity in global health leaders within WHO and to strengthen gender equality in WHO’s work. Below is an assessment of the GPW13 from a gender lens based on Women in Global Health’s recommendations. We submitted 30+ recommendations and this GPW has integrated 23 out of our 30 recommendations, integrating 76% of all our recommendations on gender equality we proposed. We acknowledge that most of the points that have not been addressed are mainly operational in nature (5 points), therefore 96% of recommendations for strategic planning have been integrated.

Read our reflections on the WHO Global Programme of Work (GPW13).

While this is an ambitious agenda with many priorities, it is one we cannot afford to fail at—leaving no one behind includes achieving gender equality. Our Call to Action to WHO and its Members States is in the hands of Members States. Women in Global Health supports the most recent draft of GPW13, with the clear expectations that steps will be taken to ensure sufficient funding streams are aligned for the achievement of gender equality and gender mainstream strategies outlined in the GPW13.

Our reflections on the 142nd WHO Executive Board meeting are:

  1. GPW marks a step towards change for WHO on gender equality

  2. WGH is delighted that WHO has listened to civil society on gender equality, (24 out of 30 recommendations, 76% of all our recommendations have been integrated, 96% of recommendations for strategic planning have been integrated).

  3. Delivery will need serious funding.

  4. WHO has stepped up - now we need to see similar level of commitment from Member States, multi-laterals organisations working in health and key donors, and civil society if global targets - SDGs and UHC - are to be met.

  5. WGH will support positive change because ‘Gender Equality = Smart Global Health’. We reiterate to Director General Dr. Tedros, the GPW13 team, Member States and to the global health community that women are agents of change, drivers of health at all levels--we must shift our mindsets to ensure our strategies realize this and we approach our solutions differently, with greater investment in gender parity and diversity in our leadership for a smarter, more sustainable global health.

The WGH team, represented by Executive Director, Dr. Roopa Dhatt, and Programming and Gender Director, Dr. Kelly Thompson, had multiple meetings with fellow CSO members, Member States and WHO team members while on the ground at the 142nd WHO Executive Board meeting. Key messages from our conversations:

  • Gender Equality continues to be a priority.

  • Gender Parity is a key step, however, we must keep working toward greater gender mainstreaming using an equity and rights framework and applying an intersectional lens.

  • Diversity and youth engagement is also important.

  • We must not forget about health outcomes, as that is the technical goal of the agency.

Dr Tedros has also been vocal in committing his Administration’s support for gender equity for his own workforce. The Draft of the WHO General programme of Work 13 (GPW13) states: “WHO cannot work effectively on gender equality and health equity without turning the mirror upon itself. WHO is committed to inclusion, diversity and gender parity.”

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