On May 23, 2023, Women in Global Health reported that nearly a third of national delegations to the World Health Assembly were led by women. This marks a significant improvement in gender equality measures, as for many years, women-led delegations remained less than a quarter of the total. Nine women currently hold the post of Chief Representative to the World Health Assembly, representing a 32% overall share in decision-making.
Despite this progress, women still account for approximately 70% of all healthcare workers, and up to 90% of frontline healthcare workers. Thus, while WGH recognizes and applauds the governments for putting women in charge, there are still three men who make top-down decisions about health priorities and healthcare program design and delivery for all women working in the health sector.
WGH is calling for increased representation of women-led delegations at the World Health Assembly in 2024 to achieve a target of 50% representation. Governments, as delegation decision makers, must take responsibility for the marginalization of women’s voices in leadership, especially in areas where women are the face of healthcare.
Dr. Roopa Dutt, Executive Director of Women in Global Health, emphasized that the limited leadership potential of women contributes to the current mass resignation phenomenon that is undermining healthcare systems worldwide. She also stressed that expanding opportunities for women to take leadership roles, closing the gender pay gap, and improving working conditions through paid maternity leave and family-friendly policies are crucial elements in addressing systemic health problems.
In conclusion, WGH is the fastest-growing, women-led movement for gender equality in global health. They campaign for women’s equal representation in health guidance, fair wages, protection and safe and decent work, prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment. They call attention to relevant data, recommendations, and proposed solutions on emerging health policy structures, and their events include various health, development and gender leaders.