The 68th World Health Assembly

Gender Equity in Health Leadership, A Conversation hosted by Women in Global Health


Roopa Dhatt, Movement Coordinator and

Caity Jackson, Communications Coordinator


Held on May 20th, 2014 at the 68th World Health Assembly

in Geneva, Switzerland.


Achieving gender equity in health leadership is part of a broader vision to achieve equity in within health leadership, especially since those in leadership positions represent those in the field and the health sector’s overwhelmingly female employees are asking where their role models are. The conversation of this meeting at the 68th World Health Assembly began by providing an overview of the cause and the background on the Women in Global Health movement. The discussion then focused on personal insight, the importance of data, defining core objectives, collaborating at multiple levels and identifying opportunities for the movement.   


- Take home messages -


  1. Gender equity in health leadership should be a movement, not just a single event, as it is about changing a mind-set, something one event cannot capture or sustain. As global health is a multi-disciplinary field, coalition building across sectors will support the efforts in the health sector and will lay a foundation for further collaborations on other issues, including SRHR. We believe global health is the unifying sector, the field to bring all voices together in gender leadership equity.

    • Define “leadership” positions, as it should be ‘having no one above you,’ as there are many intermediate leadership positions in which women seem to be represented relatively equally, we're just not reaching the absolute top.  

    • What makes a good leader and what can women bring to leadership positions in this respect.

  2. Data is needed to assess the gender equity gap in health leadership:

    • A particular emphasis on disaggregate data at the country/regional level is important and one that highlights trends of leadership, not just isolated figures. However, there should be strategic priorities placed, with focused efforts and clear targets.

    • Overall assessment of the landscape.

    • Data is also needed to design dialogues on gender equity in health leadership.

    • Specific outcomes include, published report, info-graphic.

  3. There are many opportunities to engage at all levels, with the aim to have our voice locally/regionally and globally at the WHO and UN level.

  4. Gender equity in leadership is about both men and women and transcends genders, involving men in the process is key to creating a sustainable changes to our system.

  5. Concrete “ASKS” are needed. We need to establish goals and targets we can reach.

    • A toolkit, an assessment tool and a “report card” could be proposed for organizations to follow, so their current status and overall progress can be measured.

    • A “framework for action”  with specific commitments-a contract for actions organizations can sign on which is time-bound with the intent to make a public change.

  6. Positive framing is very important with an emphasis on the opportunities that exist mentorship and highlighting great women and women in global health. The role of men as mentors is also important (or ‘womentors’).

  7. We should be thinking about where this topic fits into current global health policy trends, perhaps fitting into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda.


  1. Lola Dara, CHESTRAD, Nigeria

  2. Katy Davis, Medsin UK, United Kingdom

  3. Mike Kalmus Eliasz, WMA-JDN and IFMSA, United Kingdom

  4. Jade Lim, AMSA-Australia, Australia

  5. Caline Mattar, WMA-JDN, Lebanon

  6. Meggie Mwoka, IFMSA RC Africa, Kenya

  7. Connor Rochford, AMSA-Australia

  8. Kelly Thompson, IFMSA LRA, AMSA-Australia

  9. Yassen Tcholakoc, IFMSA, Canada-Quebec

  10. Waruguru Wanjau, IFMSA-past, Kenya

Additional input received at the 68th World Health Assembly from:

  1. Hana Awil, Karolinska Institute, Sweden

  2. Lynsey Canham, Graduate Institute, Switzerland

  3. Maik Dunnbier, IOGT, Director of Strategy and Advocacy

  4. Ivana Di Salvo, IFMSA Liaison Officer to Research and Medical Associations ,  Italy

  5. Ilona Kickbush, Graduate Institute, Switzerland

  6. Vina HuLamm, American Public Health Association, Global Health Manager, USA

  7. Issy Marks, Medsin UK, United Kingdom

  8. Kristina Sperkova, IOGT, Director of Strategy and Advocacy

  9. Zareen Chiba, IFMSA, Hong-Kong