Women Leaders in Global Health 2018: A call for action and change in the narrative
Nina A Martin | Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health
Last week, 900 participants around the world joined the second annual Women Leaders in Global Health conference at the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene on November 8-9, 2018. Speakers representing major non-governmental organizations, ministries of health, funders, academic institutions, private sector, and many more discussed crucial issues on gender equity in global health leadership: What do gender-based disparities look like across the workforce? What does “leadership” mean? What can we do to foster equity in a space where women are the majority? Across these talks echoed two messages - the need to change the status quo, and women’s collective power to effect change.
It was an exciting two days to connect with peers and reflect on progress and challenges. Several groups talked about the increasing wealth of data that allow us to measure and track how women and other groups are impacted; shortly before the conference, a group including several organizers published a paper quantifying barriers and potential solutions to female leadership in global health. Throughout the conference, there was also a strong momentum to turn discussions into reality. We at CGH look forward to helping build the path to gender equity.
Some key highlights we heard from the conference:
- Trust is the foundation for equity in academic partnerships – several panelists, including CGH Director Tom Quinn and former Rwandan Minister of Health Agnes Binagwaho, discussed the challenges and needs in academic global health partnerships, including time, funding, and opportunities for collaborative training. CGH is currently engaged in research to better understand enablers and barriers to building mutually beneficial partnerships with our collaborators.
- Gender equity starts at both a programmatic and internal level - Global Health 50/50, “an independent initiative to advance action and accountability for gender equality in global health and contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, recently released a report reviewing 140 key global health organizations’ internal and external commitments to gender equity. They also provide suggestions for how your organization can take action towards equity.
- Gender equity does not mean “women-only“ – one presenter discussed that “gender equity” should include gender nonconforming individuals and members of historically marginalized groups, including racial, ethnic, political, and social, in addition to women.
Preparations are already beginning for WLGH 2019 conference in Kigali, Rwanda. Stay up to date at their website https://www.wlghconference.org/!